Rising Gas Prices Linked to Obama Drilling Ban in 1% of Evening News Stories

Wednesday's Example of Media Bias   —   Posted on April 20, 2011

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-Read the excerpt below from Julia Seymour's April 19th report posted at MRC.org.
-Read "Types of Media Bias" in the right column. Then answer the questions.

On April 20, 2010, a horrific oil spill took place in the Gulf of Mexico on British Petroleum’s (BP) Deepwater Horizon rig. Since that day, gas prices have risen nearly $1-a-gallon…. President Barack Obama’s anti-oil policies, including a drilling moratorium are at least part of the reason for that dramatic spike. But you will rarely hear that from the mainstream media.

…Out of 280 oil price stories since the disastrous pill, just 1 percent (3 out of 280) mentioned any connection between Obama’s anti-oil efforts, such as the drilling moratorium, and rapidly rising gas prices. [moratorium is defined as a suspension of an activity for a certain amount of time; a waiting period set by an authority]

Instead of asking whether Obama’s [oil] policies could be increasing the cost of gas, the networks blamed other factors such as Mideast turmoil or the “money game” played by speculators. Certainly, the turmoil in Libya, Egypt and surrounding nations has increased worries about oil production and can influence the price. But the networks also should have looked for explanations much closer to home.

ABC “World News with Diane Sawyer” on March 8, 2011, even asked if the gas prices in the “stratosphere” were the result of “gas gouging.” ABC’s Matt Gutman reported that night, that the nation’s most expensive and second most expensive gas stations hadn’t posted their prices. He then declared, “Stations like this prey on unwitting travelers hoping to fill up their rental cars on the way to the airport.”

After attacking those stations, Gutman admitted “This is technically not price gouging, a legal term which applies only during states of emergency.” He told viewers: “In fact, stations can charge as much as they want,” but then asserted that is wrong by quoting [Orlando] Mayor Buddy Dyer who said “We don’t think this is right, we don’t think people should be tricked into paying $2-a-gallon more for gas than they could half a mile down the road.”

Of course stations can charge as much as they want, because no one is forced to buy gasoline from them. Consumers can just keep on driving to a station with a lower price. Gutman should have been inquiring about President Obama’s unwillingness to expand domestic oil production, rather than going on the seasonal media search for service station villains.

During the past year, Shell’s former CEO John Hofmeister as well as politicians including Gov. Haley Barbour, R-Miss., have cited Obama administration energy policies for rising gas prices.

Obama and Federal Regulations Strangling Oil Development?

Even though gas prices had bounced up and down and were on the decline in May 2010 after the oil spill, prices have shot up in the past year. Gasoline cost $2.73 per gallon when Obama instituted his sixth-month moratorium on deepwater and shallow drilling on May 30, 2010. Prices are now more than a dollar-a-gallon higher. Pump prices have more than doubled since Obama took office in January 2009.

“After two federal courts said the moratorium was illegal, the Obama administration instead moved to a de facto moratorium, by issuing no permits, while speeding up the permitting process for wind farms,” The Heritage Foundation wrote back in December 2010.

Jeff McMahon, a blogger for Forbes, wrote on March 25 that although the administration has begun issuing permits again (five as of that time), those drilling permits weren’t “completely new” as the government was claiming. The exploration in question had begun before the moratorium.

“Of 14 permits submitted for initial exploratory drilling in the Gulf-drilling that would be, in other words, new – one has been withdrawn for modification and 13 are listed as ‘pending,'” McMahon said.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is also seeking to regulate the oil industry over greenhouse gas emissions, and the Bureau of Land Management under Obama appointee Ken Salazar “would issue new rules making it harder to develop natural resources on government-owned land,” according to Heritage.

That’s not all. On March 15, 2011, American Petroleum Institute (API) released a press release criticizing the administration for new environmental hurdles to a pipeline that would transport crude from Canadian oil sands.

“This much-studied and much-needed pipeline would provide a critical link to our largest energy supplier, Canada, and its vast resources of nearby and available crude oil,” Jack Gerard, API’s president and CEO, said in the release. API also said the pipeline could mean 13,000 construction jobs in the U.S. and the project could lead to more than 340,000 U.S. jobs eventually.

The pipeline, called Keystone XL, has already been scrutinized for 32 months by 10 federal agencies and many state and local ones, yet “workers are sitting on the sideline waiting for the project to start,” according to API.

Yet most of the network stories about gas prices didn’t even ask if such policies were contributing to the rise. During the Bush years, the networks did the opposite – criticizing the president for gas prices, asking what the government should do and even entertaining far-left conspiracy theories about gas prices manipulation and election outcomes.

CBS’s Couric wondered back in October 2006, “Is this [lower cost of gas] an election year present from President Bush to fellow Republicans,” while showing an image of bumper sticker that read: “GOP: Grand Oil Party.” Following Couric’s tease, Mason said: “Gas started going down just as the fall campaign started heating up. Coincidence? Some drivers don’t think so.”

Others in the media including CNN and Associated Press also ran stories about the supposed oil-price conspiracy. …..

Read the entire report at mrc.org.

Questions

1.  What types of bias does Julia Seymour’s report illustrate?

2.  Seymour states: “Yet most of the network stories about gas prices didn’t even ask if [the Obama administration’s] policies were contributing to the rise. During the Bush years, the networks did the opposite – criticizing the president for gas prices, asking what the government should do and even entertaining far-left conspiracy theories about gas prices manipulation and election outcomes.”  Ask a parent if he/she thinks this is a fair assertion, (does the media display a double-standard between Republican George Bush and Democrat Barack Obama) and to explain why or why not.


Scroll down to the bottom of the page for the answers.
























Answer(s)

1.  The report illustrates examples of bias by:  omission, story selection and spin.

2.  Answers vary.