Friday, March 4, 2011

More Ideological Axe-Grinding By KMOV

Sean at FiredUp has a great post up exposing KMOV and Brian Hook's lazy hit piece on the recipients of food stamps. They insinuate the money is being "wasted" without having any evidence, other than the fact that people on food stamps occasionally travel to other states. How sad that KMOV, which can't be bothered to investigate corporate abuse, instead spends their time attacking the most defenseless members of society with lazy smear jobs.

Sean's story also reminded me of another ideological hit job by KMOV earlier in the week. They posted a story on Wednesday with the blatantly misleading title, "$451,000 for one job studying beetles in Brazil?" which they used to attack the stimulus. You can watch it here:

Craig Cheatham of KMOV claimed the following:
A researcher at the University of Missouri-St. Louis is studying wood-boring beetles in Brazil. According to UMSL, that research has the potential to help the Missouri timber industry, but for now, the three year$451,000 grant has produced the equivalent of only one full-time job, according to, the official website for the stimulus plan. UMSL says the principal researcher spends 2-3 weeks a year in Brazil while a graduate assistant is there for 2-3 months a year.
Cheatham's information was misleading, and he had access to the correct information when he filed the story. I asked the principal investigator, Dr. Marquis, about KMOV's report, and he passed along a document with more details that demonstrated just how much was left out and spun by KMOV:


· Dr. Robert Marquis first submitted the grant to NSF in 2008. It was highly rated and recommended for funding but there was no money available. When the stimulus money became available, the project was funded in 2009. The grant runs from January 2010 through December 2012

· Dr. Marquis’ research focuses on the ecology and evolution of how plants resist herbivores, organisms that feed on plants, and the ecological forces that prevent insect herbivore outbreaks. This research grew out of forest sustainability projects he has been working on for 20 years in the Missouri Ozark Forest with the Missouri Department of Conversation.

· The wood-boring beetle (ecosystem engineers) in Brazil, feeds on the stems of Brazilian savannah trees, creating a cavity. When they leave, ants inhabit the cavities, and produce more ants that feed on other insects that would otherwise kill the tree. His research could have a significant impact on sustainability of our forests and the $4.4 billion dollar timber industry in Missouri (2008 estimate).

· Major expenses paid by the grant include:

o Administrative costs to UMSL and other infrastructure costs leaves about $100,000 per year to be spent on the actual research which includes:

§ Tuition, salary and benefits of one full-time UMSL graduate student, and portions of the salaries of Dr. Marquis, a post-doctoral associate at UMSL and a graduate student in Brazil.

§ Transportation and lodging for one trip to Brazil per year for Dr. Marquis. Dr. Marquis stays 2-3 weeks and his graduate student 2-3 months.

· The biome (the “cerrado”) in which the study is located is a biodiversity hotspot. UMSL scientists are working on the sustainability of our forests with their counterparts at Uberlandia University, a public university in Minas Gerais, Brazil. The exchange of researchers, students and information moves science forward in a very meaningful way.

Rather than funding "only one full-time job," the stimulus funds covered one full time graduate student in the U.S., one full-time graduate student in Brazil, a 25% salary for a post-doc, and summer funding for profesor Marquis. Furthermore, according to the National Science Foundation website, the funds provide research opportunities for undergraduates and are part of a project to establish a collaborative relationship with the Brazillian University:
The proposed project will provide unique summer research opportunities for three undergraduates, targeting females and underrepresented minorities, and highly valuable training for a postdoctoral researcher. The project will also foster strong international collaboration and help solidify a lasting USA-Brazilian institutional link.
At this point, it seems to me like KMOV really has an ideological axe to grind, and is pushing out lazy and inaccurate stories designed to push a right-wing narrative. It's too bad they can't spend more time investigating real abuses of power, like those by Bank of America.

1 comment:

  1. "Reporters" won't cover the stories behind the real corporate robber barons, such as BOA, because they would be biting the bit fat cat hand that feeds them.