Dobbs Takes Aim at Oil Companies' Profits

Lou Dobbs and the Merry Men and Women of CNN promoted a “windfall profits tax” on oil companies that Dobbs nicknamed a “Robin Hood Tax.” Dobbs set up a November 7 story asking if oil companies should have to give back some of those “giant profits to American citizens.”Reporter Louise Schiavone’s story told viewers that “Energy prices have gone through the roof and somehow taken a route through your wallet to get there.” Schiavone didn’t stop there. Her broadcast featured complaints about “A long simmering post-hurricane resentment about rising gas prices erupted into out-and-out charges of price gouging after Exxon Mobil posted third-quarter profits of almost $10 billion.” Oil companies profited from price spikes, but they didn’t arbitrarily set their prices extra-high. Market forces determined prices. But Schiavone didn’t explain that, and she didn’t bother to mention that gas prices have dropped 68 cents per gallon since their post-Katrina highs, declining every business day since October 6.The story featured the ongoing media claim that some profits are more outrageous than others. The persistent media assault on oil was featured in a recent Free Market Project analysis, “Fueling ‘Outrage’”The Schiavone story highlighted Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), who was trying to bully oil firms into giving away money, and a representative from the left-wing group Public Citizen. Schiavone listed two possible versions for the tax increase, though she left out the obvious choice of no increase, adding “as you might imagine, the oil industry is opposed.” Schiavone added that the American Petroleum Institute not only opposed the tax, “but they say they need more breaks from congress to look for, define and deliver the product.” Dobbs replied: “One is not entirely surprised on the decision on the part of big oil.”

Dan Gainor
Dan Gainor is The Boone Pickens Free Market Fellow and Vice President for Business and Culture for the Media Research Center