CBS Cheers the 'Help' of 'Drought Shamers' in Reporting California Neighbors

CBS This Morning reporters on Thursday lauded the "help" of California's "drought shamers" for turning in their neighbors. Nowhere in the segment did the journalists discuss the cause of the problem or whether the state's liberal policies could be blamed. Instead, a CBS graphic touted, "Drought Shaming: People in CA Exposing Others' Excessive Water Use." 

Correspondent Gayle King announced, "Some California residents are cracking down on water wasters this morning... State officials recommend that people take two minute showers." For those who violate the policy, "social media shaming may help this effort." He included video of a man driving down a residential street, filming his neighbors. This unidentified informant sneered, "Do you really need to do that in the middle of a drought?" 

Self-declared "drought shamer" Harriet Ells said of her efforts: "It's really just to show, like, look, this [people using too much water] doesn't need to happen." 

As the Washington Times noted in April: 

Another issue is water storage. The massive State Water Project, launched in 1960, remains unfinished for a host of reasons, including opposition over the environmental impact. [Republican Congressman Tom] McClintock notes the state hasn’t built a major dam since 1979.

In an op-ed for Time magazine, Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina asserted: 

Specifically, these policies have resulted in the diversion of more than 300 billion gallons of water away from farmers in the Central Valley and into the San Francisco Bay in order to protect the Delta smelt, an endangered fish that environmentalists have continued to champion at the expense of Californians. This water is simply being washed out to sea, instead of being channeled to the people who desperately need it.

While they have watched this water wash out to sea, liberals have simultaneously prevented the construction of a single new reservoir or a single new water conveyance system over decades. This has happened during a period in which California’s population has doubled. It is clear that improved or additional infrastructure would allow for greater conservation before droughts — especially as the population continues to explode — but California has not completed a major water infrastructure project in 50 years.

None of these points were made on CBS This Morning or on Wednesday's CBS Evening News (which ran the same story). Instead, the focus remained on the heroic "drought shamers." 

A transcript of the May 7 segment is below: 

8:06: 

CBS TM: Drought Shaming: People in CA Exposing Others' Excessive Water Use

GAYLE KING: Some California residents are cracking down on water wasters this morning. Amidst this ongoing drought there, cities are under a tight deadline to cut water use by up to 36 percent. State officials recommend that people take two minute showers and then let your lawn die to conserve the water. Ben Tracy shows us how social media shaming may help this effort. 

BEN TRACY: High water use areas, such as Beverly Hills, have to cut the most. A 36 percent reduction means 85 fewer gallons per person each day this summer. Los Angeles is telling its residents to rip out lawns and install desert plants. The city is also promising to crack down on water wasters.  The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power receive more than 1,200 complaints in March but issued just 13 penalties. 

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Do you really need to do that in the middle of a drought? 

TRACY: Some Californians are taking matters into their own hands. 

MAN: Look at this person. 

TRACY: Drought shaming videos are flooding social media. [Talking to Harriet Ells ] So, you are a drought shamer. 

HARRIET ELLS: I am a drought shamer. 

TRACY: Harriet takes pictures of wasteful water use, posts it on Twitter and hashtags it #droughtshaming. 

ELLS: It's really just to show, like, look, this doesn't need to happen. 

TRACY: She's cut her own water use in half, even catching runoff while her shower warms up to use to water her plants. For CBS This Morning, Ben Tracy, Los Angeles. 

NORAH O'DONNELL: I think we can all do a little more in terms of conservation. 

KING: You're absolutely right, Norah. But nobody wants to be drought shamed. Put down the hose! 

O'DONNELL: No, I know. That's right. 

NBDaily Environment California Video Ben Tracy
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