An analysis of broadcast coverage of the unfolding disaster in East Palestine, Ohio from February 3 to February 14 concluded that three mainstream news networks spent less than 30 minutes combined on the incident.
Residents of East Palestine and millions of people living in the Ohio River Basin are at risk of health issues following a Norfolk Southern train derailment on February 3.
The massive crash released vinyl chloride, a carcinogen used to manufacture PVC, in the form of dark smoke plumes seen in eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania. Local and state authorities evacuated those living within one mile of the crash and started a controlled burn to prevent an explosion; citizens were later allowed to return.
According to Media Research Center, a conservative non-profit, the analysis of the combined coverage of ABC, CBS, and NBC dedicated less than 30 minutes on the topic.
The Media Research Center praised CNN, PBS, Fox News, MSNBC, and NewsNation for providing updates on the crash, and particularly noted NewsNation’s continued coverage of the situation despite one of their correspondents, Evan Lambert, being arrested during a press conference with Governor Mike DeWine.
While Columbiana County is 93% white and largely conservative, with 72% of residents casting their vote for former President Donald Trump in the 2020 election, the legacy media outlets notably neglected to devote any significant attention to the disaster.
Sen. J.D. Vance noted during a recent interview with Fox News host Tucker Carlson that the media, including the three major networks, have failed to ask hard questions about the scope of the disaster, adding that they have decided to “disregard the people of East Palestine.”
The risk of health issues continues to linger for millions of people, and the legacy media’s lack of curiosity and commitment to the story has been conspicuous.
Questions remain as to why Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg addressed the crisis on social media more than a week after the crash and why the three major networks have not gone back to the story.