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CBS Touts Concord, Mass. Banning Bottled Water As 'Revolutionary Move'

At the end of Sunday's CBS Evening News, anchor Russ Mitchell celebrated the efforts of 82-year-old Jean Hill to ban the sale of bottled water in Concord, Massachusetts as: "...one woman's campaign for a greener America, one bottle at a time." He declared: "...you may remember the environmentalist mantra: 'Think globally, act locally'....[Hill] is trying to take that message to heart."

Mitchell went on to describe Hill's involvement in the issue: "...it was only a few months ago that this grandmother, best known for her blueberry pie, became a political force....At the annual town meeting in April, Hill proposed a resolution to ban her town from selling still water in plastic bottles. It passed." Some clips were played of Hill proclaiming: "There's nothing wrong with tap water....The most appalling was the trashing of our planet....They're filling our landfills and they're ending up in the ocean."

While noting the objections of a local grocery store owner, who feared a loss of customers due to the ban, Mitchell concluded the segment with a glorified comparison: "Concord would become the first American town to ban the sale of bottled water - a revolutionary move in a place where the first shots of the Revolutionary War were fired 235 years ago." He added that Hill had "received postcards of support from around the country."

One problem Mitchell found with the proposed ban: "...the state's attorney general found the bottle ban cannot be enforced because there's not even a penalty for violation." He noted how "Hill plans to revise her bylaw and try again."

Throughout the report, five sound bites of Hill promoting the ban were featured, along with two sound bites of Concord Town Manager Chris Whelan defending the community's decision. Only two sound bites of Crosby's Marketplace General Manger Bob Vello voicing opposition to the ban were featured.

Back in April, CBS's Early Show celebrated Earth Day by promoting an environmentalist documentary that guilted people into abandoning bottled water. On Monday, Evening News anchor Katie Couric tweeted about an upcoming interview with the documentary's director: "Excited about interviewing the director/producer of "Tapped" for webshow!"

Here is a full transcript of Mitchell's July 25 Evening News 'Sunday Cover' segment:

6:22PM TEASE

RUSS MITCHELL: And coming up on tonight's CBS Evening News, one woman's campaign for a greener America, one bottle at a time.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Bottle Ban?]

6:25PM

MITCHELL: Finally tonight, you may remember the environmentalist mantra: 'Think globally, act locally.' Now an 82-year-old woman from an historic revolutionary war town is trying to take that message to heart. And that's tonight's 'Sunday Cover,' one woman's uphill battle against the plastic bottle.

MITCHELL: Jean Hill has lived in Concord, Massachusetts, for 40 years. But it was only a few months ago that this grandmother, best known for her blueberry pie, became a political force.

JEAN HILL: There's nothing wrong with tap water. Concord's tap water is fine.

MITCHELL: Last year, the town passed a resolution. At the annual town meeting in April, Hill proposed a resolution to ban her town from selling still water in plastic bottles. It passed.

HILL: The most appalling was the trashing of our planet.

MITCHELL: And then there's the waste. Only 27 percent of used plastic water bottles are recycled. The rest are thrown away.

HILL: They're filling our landfills and they're ending up in the ocean.

MITCHELL: Americans now consume 39 billion gallons of bottled water a year, spending $11 billion. But an industry group tells CBS News, the plastic bottles contribute less than 1 percent of the U.S. waste stream.

BOB VELLO [GENERAL MANAGER, CROSBY'S MARKETPLACE]: I don't understand why it's only water.

MITCHELL: Bob Vello is the general manager of Crosby's Marketplace in Concord. Grocery stores like his worry that a ban would send customers someplace else to buy their water and the rest of their groceries.

VELLO: If plastic is the issue, and then you would expect it to be everything, whether it be soda or whatever.

CHRIS WHELAN [TOWN MANAGER, CONCORD, MA]: We have heard some concern expressed that water is a perfectly lawful substance.

MITCHELL: Concord's town manager, Chris Whelan, understands his town's green streak. It's home to Walden Pond, which people here consider the birth place of the conservation movement.

WHELAN: I think the overall sentiment was we need to do more to protect the environment, reduce our consumption of petroleum-based products and plastic and that type of thing.

MITCHELL: Concord would become the first American town to ban the sale of bottled water - a revolutionary move in a place where the first shots of the Revolutionary War were fired 235 years ago. But the state's attorney general found the bottle ban cannot be enforced because there's not even a penalty for violation. Hill plans to revise her bylaw and try again.

HILL: Thank you for, quote, 'sticking your neck out,' unquote, on the plastic issue.

MITCHELL: She's received postcards of support from around the country.

HILL: I'm 82 years old. I don't want to go until I'm all used up. And so, I took on this battle and I'm determined to see it through.

MITCHELL: And that is the CBS Evening News.

-Kyle Drennen is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here.