After falsely claiming that oil companies pay no federal royalties for offshore drilling, an assertion later undermined by one of her own guests, Rachel Maddow rewrites the history of the oil industry's last 40 years.
"We've had a lot of response to the NBC News archival footage that we played this week showing just how much hasn't changed in the past 30 years of oil drilling disasters," told her MSNBC viewers May 28. "You may recall that we played news coverage this week of the 1979 Ixtoc oil well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico. And that footage made clear that from failed blowout preventers, to junk shots, to top kills, to booms, to dispersants, to undersea plumes of oil, oil disasters and oil disaster response looks the same now as it did 30 years ago."
"The only real technological progress the oil industry has made in the past 30 years is figuring out how to drill in ever deeper water," Maddow claimed. "It was unsafe in 200 feet of water 30 years ago. Now the progress is that today it's unsafe in 5,000 feet of water. ... No one in the oil industry wants to say it and no one in America wants to believe that it is true and I include myself in this. But honestly, we have no idea how to drill safely offshore. We know how to drill offshore, but we do not know how to drill safely offshore. Because the oil companies have never been made to care too much about that before."
Not only that, I would hasten to add, we have "no idea" how to send human beings safely into space. Even after losing three astronauts in the Apollo 1 fire of January 1967, seven more perished nearly 20 years later on the shuttle Challenger, followed by another seven fatalities on the Columbia in 2003.
The National Center for Atmospheric Research believes that oil from the leaking deep water rig in the Gulf of Mexico could impact much of America's East Coast by summer.
As reported by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research Thursday, scientists using a detailed computer modeling program have created a video image of what they feel is possible in the coming months.
"'I've had a lot of people ask me, ‘Will the oil reach Florida?'" says NCAR scientist Synte Peacock, who worked on the study. 'Actually, our best knowledge says the scope of this environmental disaster is likely to reach far beyond Florida, with impacts that have yet to be understood'" (video follows with more of this report and commentary):
MSNBC's Morning Joe on Thursday touted Barack Obama's handling of the BP oil spill and enthused, "I think they're doing better now, right? I think the past couple days have been great." It was left to Time magazine's Mark Halperin to offer the non-White House spin. He deadpanned, "Except the hole's not plugged." [Audio available here.]
Reversing the usual positions of a conservative and a member of the mainstream media, Halperin derided, "As long as the President's doing important things like going to rock concerts, I think everybody will understand." A defensive Scarborough shot back, "Nah, that's a cheap shot."
The Morning Joe host, supposedly the voice of conservatism on MSNBC, proclaimed, "...Nobody, when they go to the polls this fall, voting for a Democratic or Republican candidate, are [sic] going to blame Barack Obama and Democrats for not plugging a hole, I don't think."
British Petroleum's (BP) reputation has been marred by the April oil rig explosion and subsequent oil spill which is still gushing more than 40 days later. But according to The Washington Post, the reputation of some left-wing environmental groups has also been polluted by the incident.
"[T]he Nature Conservancy lists BP as one of its business partners. The Conservancy also has given BP a seat on its International Leadership Council and has accepted nearly $10 million in cash and land contributions from BP and affiliated corporations over the years," Joe Stephens wrote for the Post May 24.
It's not just Nature Conservancy either, the Post found $2 million in donations to Conservation International and relationships between BP and other lefty activist groups Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), Sierra Club and Audubon.
"The crude emanating from BP's well threatens to befoul a number of alliances between energy conglomerates and environmental nonprofits. At least one group, Conservation International, acknowledges that it is reassessing its ties to the oil company, with an eye toward protecting its reputation," the Post said.
This was front page news at The Post on May 24, but received only silence from other mainstream media outlets including the three broadcast networks.
On Wednesday's Rick's List, CNN's Drew Griffin pressed former Clinton administration official Robert Reich on his call for a federal takeover of BP and its efforts against the Gulf oil leak. Griffin first questioned Reich if his proposal was serious, and later stated that the Democrat's idea "sounds not only highly illegal...but seems to me to smack of something that we might see in Venezuela" [audio clips available here].
The CNN personality, who was filling in for anchor Rick Sanchez, brought on the current University of California, Berkeley professor to discuss his proposal, which he first made in a May 31 column (as noted by Jeff Poor at MRC's Business and Media Institute). After summarizing Reich's position, that it was "time for the government to seize control of BP and take over the company's oil spill recovery efforts in the Gulf," Griffin bluntly asked the former labor secretary, "I've got to tell you, I have always considered you a very serious person, but this doesn't sound serious to me at all. Are you serious about this, or was this some kind of a joke to get things going?"
On the Wednesday edition of “Morning Joe,” host Joe Scarborough attacked Republican political strategist Karl Rove for his critique of the Obama administration’s delayed response to the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
Scarborough was irate at the “hypocrisy” of the statement because during his time in New Orleans in the middle of Katrina, he recalled, “a lot of people keeping their mouths shut because they didn't want to criticize President Bush.” [MP3 audio available here; WMV video for download here]
This outburst was in response to Karl Rove’s statement on Fox News that, “The president and his people are in charge of this under the Oil Spill Liability Act and they don’t have a plan.” Scarborough then hastily asserted, “Just keep your mouth shut. I'm not saying don't criticize the president, but if you were involved in Katrina, keep your mouth shut.”
Of course, during a post-Katrina interview with “NBC Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams, Scarborough felt no compulsion to keep his mouth shut in deference to the president. At the time, Scarborough asked if Williams found it an "ironic choice" to report “from a major American city where young children died of dehydration out on sidewalks, and now you've got the President of the United States delivering a speech to the nation from Jackson Square, an area largely untouched by Katrina's devastation.”
It was bound to happen and no one can really blame them for doing so, but someone eventually had to determine who the political winners and losers are for the tragic circumstances surrounding the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
Looking forward to the upcoming election cycle, MSNBC "Morning Joe" host Joe Scarborough determined the time was right to take a stab at it, although reluctantly on his June 2 broadcast.
"[W]e will stay with BP for one second but talk about presidential politics and I know this will be offensive to some people but it's just a reality that there is somebody in the White House, somebody in the Democratic Party, somebody in the Republican Party that's trying to figure out the political impact of this environmental tragedy. And we were talking with Chuck Todd last hour about how it ramps up when the oil starts washing on Florida shores, Chris. That makes this a much bigger political event in terms of presidential politics, like it or not."
The mainstream media is of course replete with liberal opinionistas who criticize Republicans far more harshly than Democrats. That is nothing new. It is truly shocking, however, when supposedly "objective" news outlets employ even more egregious double standards than the openly-biased commentators.
The Wall Street Journal's James Taranto caught the Associated Press employing one such double standard over the weekend. The AP's Ben Feller penned quite a sob story about the president's response to the Gulf spill, saying that Obama is "having to work through unforeseen problems" and made sure to note that his "ability to calmly handle many competing issues simultaneously is viewed as one of his strengths."
A contrast with the AP's rheotroic on the Bush administration's response to Hurricane Katrina reveals quite a discrepany in the organization's views on the executive's accountability for natural disasters. That New York Times columnist Frank Rich and uber-liberal mudslinger Bill Maher have both had harsher words for the current president and his response to the Gulf spill speaks volumes.
Not letting a good crisis go to waste, MSNBC’s left-wing rabble-rouser Ed Schultz insisted on "Morning Joe" today that the BP oil spill reinforces the need for new legislation to restrict corporations from engaging in political speech.
“I really believe that this what is happening in the Gulf is a classic [example] of how we do need campaign finance reform,” implored Schultz. “It’s all interconnected.”
To provoke this remark, "Morning Joe" co-host Willie Geist tossed Schultz a softball while plugging the liberal activist’s new book.
“One of the things you talk about a lot on your show and write about in the book is the relationship between money and politics,” declared Geist. “So what you have essentially, you could say, is a form of legalized bribery. I contribute to you, Senator Schultz, and you carry out my interests in Washington. What do we do to change that? We all know that’s the problem. We all know people are acting on behalf of corporations and not people.”
"It took about three days" after Katrina's landfall in New Orleans for the media to attack the Bush administration for acting "too little, too late," but after April's oil spill it took "about four weeks before you heard any criticism of any substance on the networks," Media Research Center's Rich Noyes told Fox's Clayton Morris on the Saturday, May 29 "Fox & Friends." Noyes and MRC analyst Kyle Drennen wrote about that double standard three days earlier on NewsBusters.
Playing devil's advocate, Morris noted that in the initial aftermath the damage of the BP oil well blowout was grossly underestimated, perhaps accounting for the lack of critical response by the media.
Noyes granted that point, but argued that only explains about "the first week or so" of the media's silence. In fact, it took normally partisan Democrats like James Carville coming out to complain about the Obama administration's reaction before the media took up the torch on the issue, when "it should be the other way around," the MRC Director of Research argued.
For the full interview, click on the play button in the embed at right.
With the Gulf Coast oil spill appearing to spin out of control, the Obama-loving media are now working overtime to shelter the President from any possible blame.
Exhibit A: New York Times columnist Frank Rich's pathetic piece published Sunday.
Almost incomprehensibly, "Obama's Katrina? Maybe Worse" is more of hit piece on the Bush administration than a serious analysis of the failings of the current White House to do anything to prevent the environmental disaster slamming the Gulf Coast after that oil well exploded almost six weeks ago.
But that's just the beginning, for Rich actually ends up pointing fingers at Dick Cheney, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, the Tea Party, and Rand Paul:
On Saturday, the Associated Press informed its readers that President Obama cannot be expected to focus all of his attention on the Gulf Coast oil spill.
The reason? Presidents have to juggle a number of pressing issues at a time, and what with America being in a recession, Obama simply can't afford to give sole focus to this disaster.
Too bad the AP wasn't so understanding in 2005 when President Bush was perceived as being detached from the suffering in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Back then, the wire service was quick to mention vacation plans and peddle accusations of the federal government not caring about the poor.
But what a difference with a Democrat in the White House: as BP's efforts to plug the leak continue to fail, there is increasing danger of Americans putting partial blame on an ineffective government - and we just can't have that.
The AP's Ben Feller helpfully published a reminder that there's more going on in the world than oil pumping into the water in the Gulf:
On Sunday’s syndicated Chris Matthews Show, Time magazine columnist Joe Klein joined the ranks of left-leaning media figures like Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann in blaming the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico on the Bush administration. As the panel discussed President Obama’s handling of the disaster, Klein opined that "this is more Bush’s second Katrina than Obama’s first," and, after agreement from host Matthews, Klein continued: "Yes, because it was the Bush regulations, it was Dick Cheney’s deregulation, and lording over the Minerals Management [Service]-"
Later in the show, as the group discussed whether President Obama would recover from his current sagging approval numbers, Klein asserted that Obama is lucky because Republicans "look worse" on the oil spill than do Democrats: "He is incredibly lucky in his opposition. I mean, you know, the oil spill is a great example. The Republicans look worse on that than the Democrats do. I think that, because there are no really coherent Republican leaders now, he’ll come back."
Below is a transcript of relevant portions of the Sunday, May 30, syndicated Chris Matthews Show:
Since February 2006, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann has used the signoff of his Countdown show almost nightly to mock President Bush by recounting the number of days have passed since the former President stood on the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln and declared an end to major combat operations in Iraq. The speech, which President Bush delivered while a sign with the words "Mission Accomplished" could be seen in the background, has been referred to by Olbermann and other war critics as Bush’s "declaration of ‘Mission Accomplished.’" The signoff mocking Bush had continued even after the former President left office.
But as of this week, the MSNBC host has finally dropped his former signoff and instead recounts the number of days since the beginning of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The last time Olbermann signed off attacking President Bush was on Thursday, May 20: "That’s Countdown, for this, the 2,576 th day since the previous President declared "Mission Accomplished" I Iraq. I’m Keith Olbermann. Good night and good luck."
On Friday, Olbermann did not use the sign off because each Friday he ends the show by reading a short story from James Thurber, and deviates from his regular signoff, but on Monday, he had a new signoff referring to the oil spill, which he kept up through Thursday of this week:
Barack Obama finally gave a press conference on Thursday, and many on the right immediately noted some tough questions that were sorely absent.
Anticipating this eventuality, conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh penned ten questions of his own that he would have asked the Commander-in-Chief if he had been invited to yesterday's festivities.
As you listen and/or read his queries, try to imagine any Obama-loving media member having the nerve to ask such things as well as the look on the President's face if they were actually posed (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Good Morning America's Elizabeth Vargas on Friday played defense for the White House, suggesting that a Gulf Coast official might be ignorant for attacking Obama's response to the oil spill as slow. Vargas huffed, "President Obama said in his news conference yesterday, that, quote, 'Those who think we were slow in our response or our response lacked urgency don't know the facts.'" [Audio available here.]
She complained to Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser, "Do you think he was talking about you?" It didn't seem to occur to Vargas how insulting that might sound, given that Nungesser is on the ground in Louisiana.
Media Research Center President Brent Bozell appeared again on last night's "Hannity" for the weekly look at the MSM's liberal pathology in a segment entitled "Media Mash."
The first topic: the liberal media are slowly waking up to the president's incompetent handling of the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Mr. Bozell compared that to how it took a mere 72 hours after Katrina's landfall in New Orleans for the media to slam then-President Bush.
The NewsBusters publisher also addressed how Sam Donaldson compared Mexican President Felipe Calderon's scolding Arizonans for their anti-illegal immigration law to how President George H.W. Bush rebuked the Communist Chinese after the Tiananman Square Massacre.
For the full segment, click the play button on the embed above at right.
The White House press corps just loved President Obama's press conference anecdote meant to prove the pressure he's under and responsibility he's taking (“When I woke up this morning, and I'm shaving and Malia knocks on my bathroom door and she peeks in her head and she says: 'Did you plug the hole yet, daddy?'”). The ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts all showcased the clip, with fill-in ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos incorporating it into his lead:
Good evening. The buck stops with him. President Obama acknowledged today that the worst oil spill in American history is his crisis by quoting his daughter.
Earlier in the day, wrapping up ABC's live coverage of the afternoon session, Stephanopoulos was “struck” by the soundbite: “Pretty clear what the President was trying to convey today, Jake [Tapper]. He is in charge. I was struck in that final answer he even brought Malia back into this.”
Back to Thursday night, CBS's Chip Reid began his report by playing the bite, setting it up: “Well, Harry [Smith], if there's one thing the President made clear today it's that pressure to plug that hole is coming from everywhere.” Over on NBC, Chuck Todd introduced the video: “As if realizing he had not yet driven home the message that he came to the East Room to make, the President at the very end made it personal.”
Both Chris Matthews and Chuck Todd were taken aback by Barack Obama delivering a "personal connection moment" in today's press conference when he told reporters that his daughter Malia asked him: "Did you plug the hole yet, daddy?" Of the anecdote Matthews, on Thursday's Hardball, exclaimed "Talk about a sound bite guys!" and declared he delivered "personally there, in a way he rarely does." Matthews went on to say it was remarkable that he'd reveal that private story in front of the press because he "hates" them.For his part, NBC White House correspondent Chuck Todd claimed the sharing of his "gut moment" may "calm down" some of the President's critics. [audio available here]
The following exchange was aired on the May 27 Hardball:
MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell on Thursday attempted to critique Barack Obama's handling of the oil spill, but felt it necessary to point out how "intellectual" and "focused" the administration usually is.
She prefaced her gentle disapproval by exclaiming, "...There was a lot of criticism- and we're not analogizing this to Katrina- but there has been a lot of criticism in the past of decisions made on war and peace and on Katrina by the George W. Bush administration."
Mitchell gingerly added, "And many people praised Barack Obama's White House because it was so intellectual and so focused on problem solving and fact getting. But is there a lack of passion?"
On the one hand, you might say it was the least surprising coming-out since Ricky Martin announced he was gay. On the other, it was refreshing to hear Mika Brzezinski say words we knew to be true but at least in my case had never heard her unequivocally pronounce before: "I'm a Democrat."
Mika made her declaration in the context of arguing that just because she's a Democrat doesn't mean she shouldn't ask tough questions about the Sestak job-offer allegations or Pres. Obama's handling of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Mika also took a surprising shot at her fellow MSMers for failing to ask the tough questions . . .
For more than a month, the American Gulf Coast has been threatened by a gigantic oil spill, caused by the April 21 explosion of a British Petroleum deepwater rig. Yet unlike five years ago — when the media were quick to put the onus on the Bush administration for its handling of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina — for four weeks, ABC, CBS and NBC failed to scrutinize the administration’s ineffectual response to this disaster, now blasted even by such Democratic stalwarts as ex-Clinton operative James Carville.
On Wednesday’s Good Morning America, Carville accused the President of “political stupidity” for not making the oil spill a top priority. “It just looks like he’s not involved in this! Man, you have got to get down here and take control of this! Put somebody in charge of this and get this thing moving! We’re about to die down here!” Carville specifically faulted Obama for not deploying sufficient federal resources to protect the valuable marshes in southern Louisiana.
CNN's Anderson Cooper first defended the Obama administration's initial response to the Gulf oil leak and then criticized him from the left on Tuesday's AC360: "A month ago, it seemed like the federal government was on top of this. They were beating back claims...that this was Obama's Katrina." He later continued that "it doesn't seem like there's much pressure being applied to [BP], if it's there at all."
Cooper brought on CNN senior political analyst David Gergen and liberal presidential historian Douglas Brinkley for a panel discussion on the environmental disaster 25 minutes into the 10 pm Eastern hour. The anchor included his apologetic of the early response by the administration in his first question to Gergen: "David, I mean, a month ago, it seemed like the federal government was on top of this. They were beating back claims by conservatives that this was Obama's Katrina, and now, it seems that may have been premature."
ABC political strategist, and prominent Democrat, James Carville appeared on Wednesday's Good Morning America to condemn Barack Obama's response to the oil spill.
A very emotional Carville surprised host George Stephanopoulos, a friend and former colleague in the Clinton White House, by shouting, "And it just looks like he's not involved in this! Man, you have got to get down here and take control of this!" [Audio available here.]
Carville, a resident of Louisiana, attacked, "Put somebody in charge of this and get this thing moving! We're about to die down here!"
"When the oil slick first spread, we learned the Interior Department's chief of staff was rafting down the Grand Canyon, and now that it's reached our shores, the president is in California raising money for Barbara Boxer, while the head of the EPA makes plans to raise more campaign cash in New York City," said Brian Walsh, a spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee
"Clearly, this Administration's priorities are grossly misplaced when vacations and campaign fundraisers are more important than focusing on one of the greatest environmental disasters in our nation's history."
Clearly it's a GOP talking point, but still, after the media made so much out of Dubya's "heckuva job" comment, you'd think, for better or worse, that more blame would be placed at Obama's feet (Kanye West, call your office).
Doesn't everyone remember in 2005 when George W. Bush's Press Secretary Scott McClellan (bless his back-stabbing heart) called reporters into the West Wing of the White House and scolded them for asking too many questions about Hurricane Katrina? That followed a similar admonishment earlier in the year about the press's obsession with anything and everything to do with the Iraq War.
You don't remember those things? That's because they didn't happen. Oh sure, someone will be able to find examples of McClellan, as well as successors Tony Snow (RIP) and Dana Perino occasionally expressing irritation with reporters for their silly and/or repeat questions on these and other subjects. But summoning them to the West Wing for a beatdown? Hardly.
That's what Obama administration Press Secretary Robert Gibbs is said to have done last Friday with White House reporters. Here's the full text of audio that can be heard at Breitbart; a somewhat expanded text report, along with a the continually updated original graphic screen-grabbed and incorporated into the image at the top right, are at Capitol News Connection:
CBS and NBC on Tuesday night reached deep into a Washington Post story – specifically, the 20th paragraph of a 24-paragraph article – to pluck out a quote in order to demonstrate a “frustrated” President Barack Obama has been angry about the gulf oil spill. “A frustrated President Obama says ‘plug the damn hole,’” Katie Couric teased at the top of the CBS Evening News. She soon elaborated:
Frustration over the spill has been simmering for weeks, even in the Oval Office. We learned today that in the first days of this crisis an angry President Obama snapped at a meeting, quote: ‘Plug the damn hole.’ The President will head to the gulf coast on Friday, his second visit in about four weeks.
The NBC Nighty News plastered the quote on screen, as Brian Williams announced:
We also learn more today about the President's frustration. A Washington Post article saying President Obama bluntly told an aide in the Oval Office: ‘Plug the damn hole.’ That hasn't happened yet, but the President is heading back there Friday.
He may be out of office, but Cheney Derangement Syndrome lives on.
This time, and just like other times in the past, "The View" co-host and host of her own HLN show, Joy Behar used the BP oil spill to attack the Bush administration, specifically former Vice President Dick Cheney by suggesting he was really behind the oil spill. Her source - it was an outspoken critic of the Bush administration and aid to former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Lawrence Wilkerson.
"There is a lot of blame to go around, obviously," Behar said on the May 25 broadcast of "The View." "But I was listening to this guy, Lawrence Wilkerson. Who was the -- he is now a retired army colonel and he worked with Colin Powell during the Bush administration. He was the undersecretary to him. And he says, and I quote him, ‘The whole oil spill can be laid at Cheney's feet.'"
What is it about oil spills that make liberals so slippery?
Come to think of it, this isn't fair. What is it about oil spills that make liberals more slippery than usual? There, that's better.
The fact that oil companies receive federal subsidies doesn't sit well with Chris Hayes, Washington editor of The Nation magazine and occasional guest host on Rachel Maddow's MSNBC show. Sitting in for Maddow on May 21, Hayes lambasted libertarian GOP Senate candidate Rand Paul for not condemning subsidies to the fossil-fuels industry --
HAYES: The very idea of government subsidies runs counter to the libertarian governing philosophy. And yet when they're in power, when conservatives are in power, reflexively pro-business conservatives have no problem with them. They chuck their supposedly principled free-market ideals right under the wagon the first time BP comes calling.