“For the record, the only aircraft the EPA has used to verify compliance with environmental laws are manned aircraft,” according to a letter from Karl Brooks, EPA regional administrator in Kansas City, Kan., to Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska.
Brooks said the flights were an “important, cost-effective tool to help protect local communities and water quality from harm that can result from discharges from these facilities.”
But “spy” drones quickly became the story, on Twitter, in the conservative media and elsewhere.
“EPA drones spy on farmers in Nebraska and Iowa” was the headline on a story in The Daily Caller, which has been described as a news Website with conservative leanings. “Send in The Drones: Obama Spies on America” topped a piece on the Website Investors.com
On Fox News, which subsequently corrected its report about EPA drones, anchorwoman Megyn Kelly seemed to bump up the tension.
“You got to picture yourself, right, as one of these Midwestern farmers because what’s been in the news lately?” she said. “That President Obama has killed more terrorists with drones than any other president. That President Obama has a so-called ‘kill list’ and that on that ‘kill list’ sometimes civilian casualties go as well. . . . You’ve got to get a little squeamish when you see a drone going overhead.”
A Fox colleague interjected: “What are you supposed to think?”
Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” which has long enjoyed tweaking the network, didn’t debunk the drone story, either. But host Jon Stewart said in response to Kelly’s report: “You’re supposed to think they’re trying to catch people who are letting their cows (pollute) the water supply, because that’s what they’re doing. Who in their right mind would even make that connection?”