Fox News: A Challenge to NOAA’s “All Clear” on Seafood Safety


A few national news outlets are finally stepping up to challenge the “Mission Accomplished” narrative – even on the issue of seafood safety where mainstream media skeptics have been few and far between. As we’ve said here before, it’s truly amazing what a couple hundred million in advertising dollars will do to soften hard-nosed media coverage.

Though I’m certainly no huge fan of Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News network (the local Fox affiliates are a different matter), I nonetheless noted they found an expert to contradict the “all clear” claim in a story this week. It’s a small victory, I know, but we’ll take what we can get.

Fox set the stage by quoting a NOAA spokesman thus: “We are trying to get the message out. It’s easy to damage consumer confidence, and it’s hard to rebuild that,” said Christine Patrick, a spokeswoman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which opened up 4,123 square miles of federal water for the harvesting of one particular type of shrimp, Royal Red.”

That’s the NOAA way – make the story about “confidence” and “perception” to avoid addressing the very real concerns and research of independent scientists. And that’s usually where the national news ends the report – without a rebuttal or any sort of balance.

This time, however, Fox turns to Dr. Julie Olson, at the University of Alabama’s Department of Biological Sciences, who “agreed there are many questions about the future of Gulf shrimp: Will they have effectively reproduced healthy shrimp? Will that offspring be as capable of surviving and reproducing? Will they have some type of genetic defect? But the biggest question remains: Will they be safe to eat?”

Dr. Olson, reports Fox, is not reassured by NOAA’s all-clear message: “I’m still not convinced that there are not some longer-term health effects, and that I would say don’t completely avoid seafood, but I would probably recommend to eat [it] in moderation.”

Now, the true cynic might wonder if Fox, a recognized opponent of the Obama Administration, might just be a little less inclined to accept the Administration’s official party line – as they might be on cable news? Just askin’.

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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