The St. Louis Post-Dispatch and other newspapers are being surprised by Ameren’s P.R. push following the Taum Sauk disaster with the airing of “A New Beginning: Johnson’s Shut-ins State Park”
“A New Beginning” is, in fact, a 30-minute commercial disguised as television news. It is selling Ameren’s point of view about the Taum Sauk reservoir failure and taking Ameren’s preferred tack of emphasizing the repair work that has been done to date on the park.
Although the show includes footage of a company official admitting that the dam failure was Ameren’s fault, it also glosses over the causes of the epic collapse. Legitimate news reports, for example, have noted that Ameren continued operating the facility for more than a month after safety concerns were raised. The show doesn’t mention that fact.
“A New Beginning” says that “a backup system had inadvertently been installed too high to be triggered,” but news reports have indicated that the backup system actually had been reprogrammed by utility contractors in a way that kept it from working properly.