Mr. CRAIG. Madam President, I rise today to speak about a matter that I find deeply troubling. An ``Inside the Beltway'' column in the September 19, 2002, Washington Times reveals that a correspondent working for National Public Radio, in what appears to be a flagrant violation of all standards of professional journalism and ethical conduct, has set about to enlist the help of environmental radicals in order to concoct a story concerning thinning projects on our national forests. I find this abhorrent for two reasons.
First, it reveals the desperate lengths to which the environmental community is willing to go to their quest to lock up our public forests and prevent efforts aimed at protecting and restoring health to our public forests from going forward.
Second, and perhaps more troubling to me, it suggests the complete lack of intellectual honesty and the apparent complicity of a nonprofit organization, established by Congress for the purpose of educating our public, in fabricating stories and spinning the news in a manner that is devoid of objectivity and at odds with the fundamental tenets of sound journalistic practices.
Let me read from a message that was sent out by a news correspondent working for National Public Radio seeking assistance from members of the environmental community. The message reads as follows:
Hey there. Put on your thinking cap and give me your best example of a `thinning project' where they went in and did the opposite. I'm working on a story about trust, which is at the heart of all this ..... and I want to use just one example of where the FS [Forest Service] and the industry flagrantly abused the public's trust on a thinning project ..... in short, concrete evidence as to why the environmental community is distrustful of the FS and industry's so called thinning projects.
In 1967, Congress passed the Public Broadcasting Act. This act authorized the creation of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, CPB. The Act called on CPB to encourage ``the growth and development of noncommercial radio'' and to develop ``programming that will be responsive to the interests of the people.'' National Public Radio, NPR, was established in 1970 as a private, nonprofit organization to provide leadership in national news gathering and production and broadcast of radio programming responsive to the interests of American citizens.
I would ask my colleagues how is this biased effort at attempting to sway public opinion in the public interest? NPR appears to have allowed its news people to sink to new lows to scrape together a story to incite and inflame public opinion. Is this the kind of reporting we should expect from a national news organization established by Congress to promote news gathering in the interest of American citizens? I think not.
It is a sad day when our national news organizations must engage in fabricating stories by listening solely to one side and a sadder day still when these stories are presented by these organizations to an unsuspecting public as a balanced reporting of the facts.
This message authored by the NPR correspondent was distributed by way of an environmental group mailing list. The forwarding message from an organization called ``Wild Rockies'' is also revealing.
The sender reveals that environmental groups have ``successfully appealed/litigated'' many thinning projects and also ``tied up'' many more thinning projects. In short, the author of this message is making plain the fact that these groups have been successful in causing the very sort of unnecessary delays that we are attempting to prevent with the amendment introduced by Senators CRAIG and DOMENICI.
These environmentalists have demonstrated that they will stop at nothing--even shamefully dishonest practices--to impede, delay, and quash efforts by the Forest Service and Department of Interior land management agencies to restore health to our forests. We cannot let our precious American forests be held hostage by these extremists, nor should we stand idly by and allow these zealots to continue to hold our forests hostage by employing these sort of unethical and distasteful tactics.
Shame on NPR for what appears to be an utter and complete lack of balance in news gathering practices. Shame on Wild Rockies and the other environmental groups that would conspire to mislead the public in this way. And shame on us, if we fail to enact legislation that will enable us to protect our precious public forests from these irresponsible sham artists and unethical charlatans who seek to deceive rather than truthfully inform our citizens on the conditions that exist on our forests and what needs to be done to move them toward a healthier state.