FAIR Says Nukes Piece Not

Last Sunday, "60 Minutes" ran a piece "On How France Is Becoming The Model For Nuclear Energy Generation."

Media watchdog group FAIR has objected to the piece on the grounds that it amounted to nuclear-power boosterism. The thrust of the objection was that "60 Minutes" did not provide a balanced argument – that "the program spoke only to nuclear power supporters (in France and elsewhere), thereby allowing their rhetoric to go unchallenged."

I asked "60 Minutes" Producer Frank Devine, who produced the piece, to respond to FAIR's complaint.

"We were not debating nuclear power in this piece," said Devine. "This was a piece on the French approach. It was not to look at nuclear power, pro or con. God knows we're aware of the shortcomings in nuclear power. [Correspondent] Steve Kroft has done two pieces from inside Chernobyl. I worked with him on a piece on security problems at U.S. power plants after Sept. 11."

"You really have to look at '60' over the course of 30 whatever years it is," he continued. "We've covered nuclear power from all sides. You have to take this in context."

Devine said the piece wasn't initially envisioned as one focused on nuclear power. "We set out to do a piece, years ago, on how the French approach differs from ours," he said. It developed into a piece on how French are influencing the U.S. government."

As to the argument that CBS News is pushing nuclear power, Devine said "60 Minutes" wasn't pushing anything – just letting "the deputy secretary of energy have his say and asking 'how has the U.S. been influenced by the French nuclear program?'"