Olbermann: Traders Are Driving Up Gas Prices to Harm Obama

Disgraced former MSNBC and Current TV anchor Keith Olbermann suggested Sunday there's a conspiracy to drive up gas prices in order to harm President Obama.

Such was said on ABC's This Week in response to host George Stephanopoulos's question regarding the impact speculation has on what consumers pay at the pump (video follows with transcript and commentary):

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, HOST: Let's talk a little bit more about the economy. Gas prices are starting to come down this week, but the president wanted to show he's on top of it, saying he's prepared to crack down on speculators.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: My administration will take new executive actions to better analyze and investigate trading activities in energy markets and more quickly implement the tough consumer protections under Wall Street reform. None of these steps by themselves will bring gas prices down overnight, but it will prevent market manipulation and make sure we're looking out for American consumers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Keith, the president did made a concession there. The problem is they actually hadn't been able to come up with any evidence that speculation was driving up the price. There's a lot of hunches, no hard evidence.

KEITH OLBERMANN: Yeah. One of the -- one of the things I turned to, to try to establish that was to look at the average gas price at various key moments, and the lowest price in the last six years, the nadir of gas prices at the pump, was the day of this president's inauguration in 2009. There has to be some connection between that being the least busy political moment of a president's career, where you're not going to -- you're not going to hurt them, you're not going to harm him that way, and the price of gas. There has to be an almost deliberate or at least a side effect quality to that. There must be.

This is either astonishing ignorance, deliberate misinformation, or both.

The reality is that commodity prices as a whole, after a precipitous decline during 2008's financial crisis, began to bottom in December of that year. This is also true for crude oil prices and wholesale gasoline.

Let's understand that as part of the overall collapse in the value of virtually everything in the second half of 2008, oil plummeted from a high of $147/barrel in July to a low of $32 in December, a staggering 78 percent decline.

During the same period, wholesale gasoline went from a high of $3.63 in July to a low of $0.79 in December. This was part of a mass liquidation of all assets other than United States treasuries as investors panicked like it was the end of the world.


The eventual rebound in assets including energy prices was a function of the panic being overdone and the markets in general stabilizing after one of the largest crashes in history.

To now make the case that there's something nefarious about this and it is somehow evidence of a conspiracy to harm the current White House resident is absurd.

If traders were looking to manipulate markets for political gain, the stock market wouldn't be near the highs of this president's term. Far lower stock prices would hurt consumer confidence which would cause the current economy to be far worse including unemployment.

The fact is that besides this president's clear antipathy to fossil fuels, what's largely driving the recent rally in oil and gas prices are tensions associated with Iran's nuclear ambitions.

It's of course not at all surprising that Olbermann understands none of this and rather thinks it's all a grand conspiracy to harm the president he adores.

That ABC gave him a platform on Sunday to spout such nonsense is actually more disturbing than the comments themselves.

Readers should also see "Peggy Noonan Schools Olbermann: 'A Lot of People Think Businessmen Create Businesses Which Create Jobs'" and "George Will Asks Donna Brazile 'If Obama Can Stop the Seas From Rising Why Can't He Bring Down Gas Prices?'"

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.