Via America’s Lawyer: Heightened PFAS levels in the arctic signal that cancer-causing agents continue to seep into aquifers around the world, contaminating our drinking water. Mike Papantonio & Farron Cousins discuss more. Plus, the Supreme Court greenlights media mega-mergers under the FCC. RT correspondent Brigida Santos joins Mike Papantonio to explain how corporate consolidation of media companies poses an existential threat to local news stations.


*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.

Mike Papantonio:             Major new studies have revealed even higher levels of cancer causing chemicals in America’s drinking water as well as all over the planet. As you know, I handled the first case ever tried dealing with this issue up in the Ohio river Valley. Tried, we, our team tried five of them in a row back to back. The, the defendant lost every time, that was, that was DuPont. But this case is really about 3M, isn’t it? 3M made a product PFOS, PFAS, it’s, it’s very, it’s a, there’s a variation of the chemical, but it’s all bad. It’s, it’s, it’s all bad. The science is overwhelming on this issue. What is your take on what’s developing right now?

Farron Cousins:                  What’s developing right now, is we’re finding out from all the most recent studies over the last 12 months is, is horrifying. I mean, this is an issue everybody needs to be aware of because we’re looking at a situation right now where more than 200 million Americans, possibly all Americans, are drinking regular drinking water contaminated with these PFOS and PFAS chemicals that are known endocrine disruptors. They cause cancer. They can exacerbate asthma, make it more likely that you develop asthma.

Mike Papantonio:             Oh, it’s worse than that. Causes birth defects.

Farron Cousins:                  Right.

Mike Papantonio:             I mean the case, the cases we tried up in he Ohio river Valley, I tried everything from cancer of the kidneys, cancer of the testicles, other birth defects issues. Here’s the problem, 3M knew about this within the first five years that they made the chemical. They hid it from about 1955, up until the mid nineties, hid it from the EPA. Their, their own documents showed that they absolutely knew that this chemical that’s used, it’s ubiquitous, Farron. It’s, it’s it’s, they use it on frying pans to make Teflon. They use it in clothes to make waterproof clothes. They use in Scotchgard. They use it, the place we’re seeing it at the worst right now is military bases use it as fire control. In other words, they’ll spray down an entire runway because a planes coming in and, and they’ll, they’ll, they want to make sure there’s no fire risk. What happens with that is it moves off into the aquifer, and then it, it becomes part of the drinking water. It’s right now, if we look at where this is, it’s in the environment for 1 million years, 1 million years. So if it goes into a river bed, it’s there for a million years, even if, even if the water is fresh, even if they try to take drinking water and take to filter the drinking water in a particular area, it comes back because it’s in the soil that moves into the aquifer.

Farron Cousins:                  And, and what’s also terrifying too, is it’s not just what we’re, what we’re learning now is it’s not just because it runs off and soaks in, we’re learning that this stuff is evaporating with the water and that is one of the major ways it’s traveling all over the world. This latest study from this summer was looking at water samples from the Arctic ocean, you know, not exactly a huge human population there to put this stuff in the, in the water and it’s there. And it’s there in alarming numbers because it’s evaporating and moving all over the globe. And that makes it’s regulation so hard is it’s hard to regulate evaporation and rain.

Mike Papantonio:                              Well, I mean, here’s, here’s the real problem, it’s what we call bio-persistent. Once it moves into your body, it’s bio-persistent, once it moves into the environment, it’s bio-persistent. That means it stays. It’s going to be there. It’s by you, it’s bio-accumulative. Each and every exposure to this product, PFAS, PFOS increases the level of your exposure. It, the half-life on the half-life on just ridding this from your, from your body is 5.4 years. That’s the half life. And that means every day you’re around this drinking it, your cancer burden increases, risk of birth defects increases, risk of, risk of gastrointestinal bad, bad gastrointestinal problems. They’ve just really started understanding how badly it’s affecting the human body. But when you take a toxin and you make the toxin bio-persistent and you make it bio-accumulative to where each and every exposure adds to that threshold, you’ve got a big, big problem. I don’t see an end in sight on this. I mean, I’m the guy handling this litigation all over the country. And as I look at, as I look at what the government’s doing, EPA is running away from it, aren’t they?

Farron Cousins:                  They are. And that’s another terrifying fact about this story. And that’s not just today the EPA is running away. The EPA ran away from it in the nineties and the early two thousands. They’re running away from it today. They always have.

Mike Papantonio:             And the problem is this, this never degrades. It’s always the same molecule today is going to be the same molecule a million years from now. Thank you for joining me, Farron. Okay.

Farron Cousins:                  Thank you.

Mike Papantonio:             A Supreme Court ruling will allow the FCC to loosen media ownership rules, paving the way for even more media consolidation. Brigida Santos joins me now to talk about the details of this. This is really kind of a nightmare, isn’t it, Brigida? This ruling is the final say on the issue of what does it mean for consumers is that that’s the suffering. The consumers are going to suffer because of this, the way I see it. What’s your take?

Brigida Santos:                   Yeah. The unanimous decision overturns a lower court ruling that blocked the FCCs 2017 repeal of media ownership regulations. So instead this new ruling cements that 2017 decision, which eliminated a 42 year ban on cross ownership of newspapers, television and radio stations in a given market by a single entity. So for consumers, this means less competition, fewer local news choices and less diversity of information and ideas. We already have a problem with monopolies in this country where just six companies control 90% of our media. This decision could consolidate media even further, which could of course increase media bias and lead to the suppression of information that just a few parent companies may not like.

Mike Papantonio:             Well, you know, this is actually being equated that the impact of this to Citizens United, this is actually being equated to it has that kind of impact for our culture. And to get, put it into perspective 1980, there were what almost 60 individual privately owned or corporately owned, but 60 media outlets. Now it’s down to three. So now we’re going to have NBC that owns your TV. They own your news, local newspaper. They own your radio. And you’re only going to want to hear what NBC says, because that’s all you’re going to have available. This is a win for broadcasters company. The money is going to just pour in because of this decision. Bill Clinton, if you’ll remember started this whole thing, when he opened the gates for media to buy, buy, buy. He started it during his presidency and now it’s just gotten worse. Hasn’t it?

Brigida Santos:                   Yeah. Look, there’s a lot of companies that support this decision, obviously. They include Fox Sinclair, News Corp, ABC, NBC, CBS and more. They say consolidation is going to help ensure the economic survival of local TV as advertisers increasingly shift to competing digital media companies. And back in 2020 Ajit Pai, then chairman of the FCC, claimed the rollbacks were going to empower struggling local news outlets to thrive in the modern media landscape. But in 2017, the FCC also tossed out a rule that banned TV stations in a single market for merging unless eight independently owned and operated stations remained in place. It also canned the main studio rule requiring TV and radio broadcasters to maintain local stations, to act in the interest of the local audiences they serve. Without these rules, local reporting jobs are drying up, especially in rural communities. These rollbacks have proven that media consolidation is not empowering local news, but instead allowing companies like Sinclair to create a national political narrative, and that’s incredibly dangerous.

Mike Papantonio:             We’re going to hear one voice and it is the voice of what the folks that own these big networks decide we should here. Matter of fact, how ridiculous is it Brigida for them to say that, you know, digital, that we don’t have any control over digital. If you watch this video, behind this video is going to be, everything behind is going to be NBC CNN. Where they’re in the digital market, too. They’re out there just like we are. It’s going to create a lack of diversity that’s going to be startling to the average consumer. How might this impact public trust in the media, which is already awful where you have, what is it, last number I saw was 80% of the, of the public, 80% believes that corporate media is a total failure. That’s why they’re cutting their cables. What’s your take?

Brigida Santos:                   Yeah. This obviously is not going to help that. This year’s Edelman Trust Barometer reveals that trust in traditional media has declined to historic lows and a Fall 2020 Gallup poll shows that American’s confidence in the media to report the news fairly, accurately and fully has been on decline for the past decade. So this decision is likely going to continue and worsen that trend.

Mike Papantonio:             And don’t think that social media is going to step in because they’re getting control of social media as well. Brigida, thank you for joining me. Okay. I, I feel like we have to do several more stories on this. This is an important topic.

Mike Papantonio is an American attorney and television and radio talk show host. He is past president of The National Trial Lawyers, the most prestigious trial lawyer association in America; and is one of the few living attorneys inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. He hosts the international television show "America's Lawyer"; and co-hosts Ring of Fire Radio, a nationally syndicated weekly radio program, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sam Seder.