Hackers disrupted operation of a major fuel pipeline in America, with no word on when it will be back online. The media covered this story similarly across the board, but with none of the vigor and outrage a social media controversy over race would elicit.
- According to those familiar with the attack, the hackers apparently stole data from pipeline operator Colonial Pipeline before installing and activating the software demanding ransom.
- There are no detailed plans yet to re-start the 5,500-mile pipeline, which supplies “nearly half of the East Coast’s transportation fuel”, while the stoppage has sent gas prices inching higher.
- The federal government is implementing emergency rules to assist with the expected gas crunch, like issuing an exemption for the number of hours a fuel truck driver can work within a given timeframe, also known as hours-of-service rules. The relaxation of that rule is “complicating the fallback plans” however, because the number of fuel-truck drivers is 25% lower than it should be due to the coronavirus pandemic.
- The White House is also forming a task force to address the pipeline attack (the perfect example of politicians doing absolutely nothing while making it look like they’re doing something).
- Though gas prices are ticking up because of the attack, CNN Business notes consumers are facing higher prices everywhere, from lumber and building materials to cheese and diapers.
- The attack is somewhat reminiscent of a cyberattack on a Florida public water utility earlier this year that released dangerous amounts of lye into the drinking water infrastructure systems.
- The New York Times framed its reporting in appropriately dire circumstances, suggesting the fact that Colonial Pipeline has not answered basic questions such as whether a ransom has been paid or when it expects to have the pipeline back online is not inspiring confidence in its response.
- CNN’s reporting was very shallow, gliding along the surface with perfunctory details and providing little analysis on the critical points of the story.
- NBC News reported on a little-shared nugget: that experts believe this to be a “criminal scheme” rather than one orchestrated or sanctioned by a nation-state. The alleged perpetrators, a group called DarkSide, are often connected to Russia.
- While Newsmax ran a Reuters wire story about the attack, the Wall Street Journal went into detail about the dangerous consequences of infrastructure attacks such as these, saying America’s “energy industry is a big target” for hackers.
- Fox Business headlined their story with the attack’s impact on gas prices while following it up with much the same information as other outlets on the left and middle.
- The Washington Times followed Fox Business’ lead, focusing on the price impact for consumers then filling in details on the federal government’s response.
Stories like these can be infuriating, not because of any obvious media bias. In fact, most outlets are covering this story from the same angle. What makes events such as these infuriating is how important a subject like massive disruptions in energy, public utility, or internet infrastructure is, yet the hype machines and outrage-o-meters of ideologically-driven media outlets do not assign it the same enthusiastic coverage as the clickbait-able headlines about woke politics.
Mainstream media unleashes attacks on Elon Musk for sharing memes and right leaning media allows pundits to baselessly disparage the efficacy of vaccines, but gaping security holes in the very systems our economy and daily lives depend on receive perfunctory treatment. When there’s no social equity angle or reaction to woke politics to sell, there doesn’t seem to be much interest.
© Dallas Gerber, 2021