CNN's Acosta and Costello Parrot Obama Talking Points on Offshore Drilling Moratorium

CNN's Carol Costello and Jim Acosta revealed their disdain for a federal judge's decision to overturn the Obama administration's 6-month moratorium on offshore drilling when the expert they interviewed on the June 25 "American Morning" made a convincing case against the moratorium.

Tom Bower, an author who has written extensively on the oil industry, tried to explain the devastating economic impact the moratorium would inflict on an already beleaguered industry, but Costello and Acosta were blinded by ideology: "But isn't safety more important than money?" queried Costello. "Because, I mean, these oil companies make massive amounts of money each day."

Bower, author of "Oil, Money, Politics and Power in the 21st Century," drew the ire of Costello and Acosta for calling the Gulf oil spill an "aberration" and noting the oil industry's "phenomenal" overall safety record.
    
"But that's what they say, it is just an aberration, but the BP disaster happened," argued Costello. "Nobody thought that could happen either. So, it's just not logical, is it, that argument?"

"What do you mean they're doing a very good job on the whole down there?" demanded Acosta. "I don't know what that means. In what sense? You know, I mean, this entire body of water is at risk right now. It has been poisoned. And I'm just curious, what do you mean by doing a good job?"

Taking aim at Republicans and moderate Democrats like Sen. Mary Landrieu (La.) who continue to support offshore drilling, Acosta asked Bower: "I'm just curious, you know, is there a little bit of a having your cake and eat it too, when it comes to some of these Gulf Coast politicians saying we want the jobs and the protection from any environmental impact at the same time?"

Loaded questions designed to advance the White House's narrative reflect Acosta's underlying liberal tendencies.

Costello also parroted the Obama administration's narrative:

Well, let's talk about this moratorium because, and I'm just going to play devil's advocate here. Let's say -- I mean, what's wrong with these oil companies to stop drilling in the deepwater, these 33 wells, for four more months? Because that's all we're talking about when you take the moratorium in its entirety. What's wrong with that?

Bower's response, unlike Costello's sputtering rant, was succinct and nonpartisan:

Well, the cost. We see each oil platform, each rig costs at least half a million dollars a day, and often more, and they just can't afford that sort of equipment lying idle and the contractors will find other places around the world who want the rigs, and they'll just take them there, so there's just no choice.

After dismissing the expert, Acosta, turning to Costello to offer his informed opinion, lamented that "it just doesn't feel right, you know, to say that as a whole, the industry's just doing a great job down there."

The transcript of the segment can be found below:

CNN
American Morning
6/25/10

6:41 a.m.

CAROL COSTELLO, co-host: The Obama administration loses another effort to put a moratorium on drilling in the Gulf. But does lifting that ban serve our nation's best interests? You know, Bonnie is talking about this storm coming in.

JIM ACOSTA, co-host: Yeah.            
        
COSTELLO: Wouldn't it be a good idea if they continue to stop drilling on those 33 rigs -- you know that are affected by this?

ACOSTA: It's another potential complication for this whole thing.

COSTELLO: Yes. We're going to get really into that with author Tom Bower, who has written a lot on BP and the oil industry. It's 41 minutes past the hour.

[...]

ACOSTA: Welcome back to the "Most News in the Morning." You know, a showdown looms this morning over offshore drilling. A federal judge denied the administration's request to postpone an order that would end a six-month moratorium.

COSTELLO: That means if anyone wants to start up the deep water drills, they certainly can, but the White House says it will introduce a new ban in a few days. We wanted to know what a moratorium really means for safety though. Is it really necessary? Joining us from London this morning: Tom Bower, who is the author of "Oil, Money, Politics and Power in the 21st Century." Good morning, sir.

TOM BOWER, author of "Oil, Money, Politics and Power in the 21st Century": Good morning.

COSTELLO: Well, let's talk about this moratorium because, and I'm just going to play devil's advocate here. Let's say -- I mean, what's wrong with these oil companies to stop drilling in the deepwater, these 33 wells, for four more months? Because that's all we're talking about when you take the moratorium in its entirety. What's wrong with that?

BOWER: Well, the cost. We see each oil platform, each rig costs at least half a million dollars a day, and often more, and they just can't afford that sort of equipment lying idle and the contractors will find other places around the world who want the rigs, and they'll just take them there, so there's just no choice.

COSTELLO: But isn't safety more important than money? Because, I mean, these oil companies make massive amounts of money each day.

BOWER: Well of course, safety is critical. As we've now seen, the catastrophe follows if these are not safe. But on the whole, all the oil corporations are working safely. This is just an aberration.

COSTELLO: But that's what they say, it is just an aberration, but the BP disaster happened. Nobody thought that could happen either. So, it's just not logical, is it, that argument?

BOWER: We don't stop driving on the road because of a car crash. People carry on driving and people walk up staircases and fall down them, but we still walk up stairs. So in the end --

ACOSTA: Totally different when you're talking about an entire body of water as important as the Gulf of Mexico. I mean, the question that I have is we've heard the governor of Louisiana, and I'm sure you watch him closely as well, Bobby Jindal, you know, talk about why this moratorium should be lifted for the sake of jobs and so forth. But at the same time, the governor is saying we need to built berms, we need to do all these other things to protect our coastline, and I'm just curious, you know, is there a little bit of a having your cake and eat it, too, when it comes to some of these Gulf Coast politicians saying we want the jobs and the protection from any environmental impact at the same time?

BOWER: Look, I'm not an apologist for the oil industry, but I must tell you that on the whole, their record is very good. And America needs the oil, it needs the gas, and the product in the Gulf has been superb, and they're doing very good job down there on the whole. So, you know, just like we don't stop fly when a plane crashes, you just got to improve the regulation --

ACOSTA: What do you mean they're doing a very good job on the whole down there? I don't know what that means. In what sense? You know, I mean, this entire body of water is at risk right now. It has been poisoned. And I'm just curious, what do you mean by doing a good job? Because the other day, there were CEOs from the entire oil industry testifying on Capitol Hill saying that if they were to also engage in deepwater oil drilling, they essentially have the same plan of action in place if there is a major catastrophe, which is, well, we just have to, you know, see if we can plug the hole.

BOWER: Look, again, I can only say I'm not an apologist for the industry, but they are extracting amazing amounts of oil from the most difficult conditions. You got to ask why they're in the Gulf and not getting it from Mexico, Venezuela or Russia. That's one of the great issues.

ACOSTA: Are you saying that we basically put ourselves in this position? I mean, is that your point?

BOWER: I think the countries have gotten the oil to put America in that position. But on the whole, they have done a very good job in the Gulf and the executives who testified on the Hill like (INAUDIBLE) have not had these sort of catastrophes that BP is just having. So, I got to repeat on the whole, they've done an amazing job to find oil and gas there, and they are bringing it out safely. The point is that the administration discovered that the regulators, the MMS have done a very poor job so the government has got some of the blame here. They've let the oil corporations get away with murder for too long. They've now learned a lesson. They'll clearly have much better regulations down in the Gulf and elsewhere as well, because, believe me, they're going to have to start digging for oil and drilling for oil off other coastlines around the U.S. again in the near future because America needs the oil.

COSTELLO: Funny you mentioned that because BP is doing that, you know, off the shores of Alaska and it's doing this maneuver where they're drilling it's three miles offshore, they drilling down very deeply, and then they're going to make a horizontal line, something that's never been done before. So, BP, itself, is being allowed to go ahead with this process when we know that BP doesn't have it together when it comes to extreme disasters and how to fix things.

BOWER: You're absolutely right. The horizontal drilling is really quite well established now. There's nothing new on that. That is a very effective way of getting huge amounts of oil out which previously would have got lost. But I think BP has learned a lesson. I don't think they're going to make that sort of error again. They're going to be more careful than ever. They can't afford another catastrophe nor can any other oil corporation. I mean, you just got to set the seed that of course oil is a very risky business as I show in the book. What they've done down in the Gulf is quite phenomenal. This is a catastrophe which never should have happened. Everyone is learning lessons. They're going to do their best to prevent it from happening again, but the government has got as much responsibility now as the oil corporations to make sure that the regulations are there and enforced.

COSTELLO: Tom Bower, many thanks to you this morning. We appreciate it.

BOWER: Pleasure.

ACOSTA: I'm not sure I agree that they're doing a bang-up job down there, but that's just my take on it.

COSTELLO: You mean BP or the oil industry as a whole? Because I think he was separating them out.

ACOSTA: I think he was trying to separate it, but it just doesn't feel right, you know, to say that as a whole, the industry's just doing a great job down there.

COSTELLO: It's sort of like you have to trust them that catastrophes similar to what's happening with BP doesn't happen again. And the oil companies are saying, "well, we have a great safety record." But BP said that, too.

ACOSTA: Yes. We can't go on like this. We'll move on.
--Alex Fitzsimmons is a News Analysis intern at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow you on Twitter.