White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs made the rounds on the network morning shows on Tuesday, ahead of President Obama's prime time Oval Office address on the Gulf oil spill. While he had confrontational interviews on CBS's Early Show and NBC's Today, on ABC's Good Morning America, co-host George Stephanopoulos made sure Gibbs's appearance was low-stress.
Stephanopoulos kept the questions bland, giving Gibbs plenty of room to maneuver, and made little effort to press the White House spokesman on the administration's response: "...the President struck a pretty hopeful note yesterday, but experts say this spill will change the ecosystem for a generation....Are they right?...So does the President believe that basically all the oil will stop spilling into the Gulf by the end of June?...Is it fair to conclude from that, that this is the most significant crisis the President has faced?"
By contrast, on CBS's Early Show, co-host Harry Smith began by quoting Florida Senator Bill Nelson saying there was "no command and control" during the crisis and asking Gibbs: "How has this President's most recent trip to the Gulf, how is that going to change any of this?" Smith later wondered why local authorities weren't being allowed to take charge of cleanup efforts, to which Gibbs replied: "I think that's what's happening in almost every instance." Smith quickly interrupted: "...it may sound like it from where you are, but from where we have heard on the other end, it sure doesn't feel like it."
PolitiFact on Tuesday confirmed NewsBusters' claim that Democrat strategist Donna Brazile badly misrepresented the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 while a guest on Sunday's "This Week."
As NewsBusters reported that day, Brazile said in defense of President Obama's pathetic response to the Gulf Coast oil spill, "The administration has been constrained by the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, which basically gives the responsible party the lead role in trying to not only fix the problem, but contain the problem."
With quotes from the Act itself, NewsBusters demonstrated that OPA actually INCREASED the President's authority when oil spills impact our nation NOT decreased it.
With the suggestion of ABC's Jake Tapper via Twitter, I sent PolitiFact Sunday's NewsBusters piece. On Tuesday, the fact-checking website declared Brazile's comments "false":
Poor Barack Obama. Being president can take a lot out of him. That's why he needs to relax on the links, and relieve some stress into his golf game. No problem, says the Washington Post, the Gulf Spill can wait. This is the same Washington Post that berated President Bush for golfing while an armed conflict was taking place…in Israel.
Not that suicide bombings in Israel are an unserious matter, but doesn't the disaster in the Gulf require at least as much attention (far more, in my mind) from the President? The Post doesn't seem to think so.
So while the paper decried Bush's "golf cart diplomacy" and devoted over 600 words to suggesting that Bush's golf game was distracting from his work on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Post found no such grounds to criticize Obama. As a reporter for one of the paper's blogs put it, "who cares?" Obviously not the Post (h/t Jim Hoft).
With the federal government - both on Capitol Hill and in the White House - beginning to take investigative and punitive action against BP (NYSE:BP), the future of the company, at least in the United States, is in peril.
On CNBC's June 14 "The Kudlow Report," John Kilduff, a CNBC contributor and the vice president of MF Global was asked by host Larry Kudlow about a potential debarment from eligibility to be awarded government contracts, which have been very lucrative for the embattled oil giant.
"John, this would effectively be debarment," Kudlow said. "This is something we talked about a week ago, and the prevailing attitude was there would not be debarment because that hardly ever happens in American commercial history. Is President Obama having this as a Sword of Damocles over BP?"
This is the second spin for Chen through the revolving door. He was the long-time White House correspondent for the Los Angeles Times when he left the newspaper “to join the NRDC in 2006, but then jumped back into the world of journalism in 2007 with a job at Bloomberg,” Politico’s Patrick Gavin recalled in a Sunday post. (Screen shot is from an April 28, 2005 news conference with President Bush.)
In an e-mail to the Politico’s Mike Allen, Chen trumpeted that at the NRDC he will be able to perform “the Lord’s work” and that he wants to “help public officials find the wisdom and courage to do the right thing to combat climate change before it's too late.”
After wondering on Friday if President Obama should help push energy legislation through Congress, MSNBC anchor Andrea Mitchell continued her cheerleading for a new energy agenda on Monday. On her afternoon show "Andrea Mitchell Reports," Mitchell downplayed the cost of last summer's Cap and Trade bill, and opined that solar energy should be a part of the American energy future.
"Ed Markey's bill–the Markey-Waxman bill–was a year ago, but it is a Cap and Trade bill, as you were pointing out," Mitchell said to guest Ron Brownstein of Atlantic Media. "It doesn't really require us to eat our spinach," she added.
Mitchell introduced the segment by referencing the Oval Office address that President Obama will be delivering Tuesday. "How hard will [President Obama] press BP, and just how far will he go in proposing new energy legislation?" Mitchell asked.
After introducing Brownstein to the segment, Mitchell pitched the question she had asked of New York Magazine columnist John Heilemann on Friday: is now the time for sweeping energy legislation?
Ad hominem attacks supplanted thoughtful discussion yet again on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” On Monday, co-host Joe Scarborough chastised Republicans as “genuinely stupid” for criticizing President Barack Obama’s handling of the BP oil spill, adding that the GOP must think the American people are “dumb as hell.”
“The Republicans blaming Obama look genuinely stupid because of eight years of deregulation,” scolded Scarborough, who is developing a penchant for favoring personal attacks over rational debate.
“Is Mitt Romney suggesting he’s more hostile to the oil industry than Barack Obama?” Scarborough sardonically asked an amused Mike Allen, Politico’s chief political correspondent. “Do we want to go back and look at the money? And again, I’m not just knocking Mitt Romney, but when Republicans come out like Sarah Palin and suggest the president is too cozy with the oil industry, this suggests that they think the American people are dumb as hell.”
On Monday's Good Morning America on ABC, co-host George Stephanopoulos discussed President Obama's response to the Gulf oil spill with Democratic strategist James Carville: "Probably no one has been tougher than you on this White House on this response. The President now going back for his forth trip. He's ratcheted up the rhetoric over the weekend. Is this what you've been waiting for?"
Stephanopoulos was referring to Carville's criticism of Obama on the May 26 broadcast: "And it just looks like he's not involved in this!...We're about to die down here!" During his Monday appearance, the on-screen headline read: "Carville Demands Justice; Gulf 'Abused and Neglected'"
However, on Monday, Carville struck a more complimentary tone toward the President, remarking that Tuesday's prime time Oval Office address on the spill could allow Obama "to hit the reset button." Near the end of the segment, Stephanopoulos, a former Democratic strategist himself, asked Carville: "...put on your strategist hat here, has the President contained the political damage?" Carville reiterated: "I think he can hit this reset button tomorrow night. I think he can not contain the political damage, I think he can eliminate the damage. I actually think done properly, there's political value in this, I think that he can help himself a great deal."
Nothing ruins my Sunday more than a pundit defending his or her politician by completely misrepresenting a law and nobody on the program in question bothering to challenge the falsehood.
Such happened on the recent installment of ABC's "This Week" when Democrat strategist Donna Brazile said of President Obama's pathetic response to the Gulf Coast oil spill, "The administration has been constrained by the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, which basically gives the responsible party the lead role in trying to not only fix the problem, but contain the problem."
Well, why don't we look at the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 and see if Brazile was right (video and transcript follow with details about this law and commentary):
The New York Times editorial board on Sunday absolutely tore Barack Obama apart for his handling of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
"The president cannot plug the leak or magically clean up the fouled Gulf of Mexico. But he and his administration need to do a lot more to show they are on top of this mess, and not perpetually behind the curve," wrote the Times.
"It certainly should not have taken days for Mr. Obama to get publicly involved in the oil spill, or even longer for his administration to start putting the heat on BP for its inadequate response and failure to inform the public about the size of the spill."
Quite surprisingly, the Times was just getting warmed up:
Barack Obama's presidency goes the way of Jimmy Carter's if he doesn't get control of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
So said New York Times White House correspondent Helene Cooper on the most recent installment of "The Chris Matthews Show."
As the opening segment's discussion concerning the spill moved to a close, the host surprisingly asked his panel if Obama can continue to "blame the previous administration, the oil patch guys, Bush and Cheney" for the disaster.
Readers will likely find the answers quite surprising (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria on Sunday worked overtime trying to defend Barack Obama's pathetic response to the Gulf Coast oil spill while chastising his colleagues in the media for having the nerve to criticize the president.
In the opening segment of his "Fareed Zakaria GPS" aired on CNN, Zakaria asked, "Have we all gone crazy?"
He continued, "In dealing with the serious problem involving technical breakdown, engineering malfunctions, environmental fallout, regulatory mishaps, the media has decided to hone in on one central issue above all others: presidential emotion."
With a chyron at the bottom of the screen asking, "What does the media want the President to do," Zakaria told viewers, "The truth is that what's happening in the Gulf is a terrible tragedy, but there is very little the federal government can do in the short-term to actually stop the spill" (video follows with partial transcript and commentary):
Reports are surfacing that BP is finally considering a suspension of its shareholder's dividend, but what could have been done differently to avert the public relations nightmare BP is facing? Two CNBC hosts had some ideas about that, and about what could have happened if BP chose not to play ball.
Jim Cramer and Erin Burnett shared their thoughts on the "Stop Trading" segment of "Street Signs" June 11. According to the "Mad Money" host, Obama could have set a foul precedent for multi-national businesses if BP (NYSE:BP) didn't agree to make some concessions on how it is handling its day-to-day operations in the wake of this ecological crisis.
"I think that this is a, a stock that represents great value but you're dealing with the government," Cramer said. "I saw that Nancy Pelosi, she's the second most powerful person in our country, saying that they shouldn't be paying a dividend. I mean, this is one of those situations where I know, the president's approval ratings are down and what you got to do is you got to go after BP if you're the president. I'm not saying I would do it but I'm saying if I were the president of the United States, BP is public enemy number one and you're not even going to listen to what the British say. You just gotta say, ‘Guys, here's the deal, we're not, we're not going to have any dividends here. And just you know, take it or leave it, partner, because this is a company that needs U.S. ball play."
Speaking to New York Magazine columnist John Heilemann on MSNBC Friday, anchor Andrea Mitchell wondered if the Gulf oil spill could be a political opportunity for President Obama: "Is there an opportunity now to do something real on energy?"Heilemann proclaimed the disaster was "a triggering action for us to try and get toward a greener future...break our addiction to oil..."
The discussion occurred during the 1PM ET hour on Andrea Mitchell Reports with Mitchell noting how the President was "trying to contain the political damage" from the spill. After she spun the crisis as an "opportunity," Heilemann argued: "I think this is one of these real moments for any president...what better moment is there than this?" Both Mitchell and Heilemann seem to share the philosophy of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel that "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste."
Heilemann actually worried that the White House would not exploit the situation enough: "I think that for the White House to do that and not end up with a piecemeal, some kind of small bill – small ball bill – he's got to go really big and turn this into a crusade." He described the "fear" on the Left that the administration was "going to end up settling for a small solution rather than the big one that really changes, fundamentally, our relationship to energy and the – and our climate."
In today's "Silence of the Cams" segment, an ABC reporter was hassled Thursday for trying to cover the Gulf Coast oil spill from an Alabama beach.
According to an article published at ABCNews.com, "Reporting is often about access, but journalists along the Gulf Coast covering the BP oil spill have had some trouble getting it."
The piece continued, "As BP faces more pressure from the government and from its own shareholders unhappy with the company's falling stock price, it seems to be clamping down on who can talk to reporters" (video follows with more quotes from the article and commentary):
If you ask the media, George W. Bush is to blame for everything from the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill to Al and Tipper Gore's broken marriage. What's more, the media are insisting, it's Democrat Hillary Clinton who deserves praise for paving the way for Republican women having success on Tuesday's primaries, not Sarah Palin.
That's just skimming the surface of the loopy stuff the liberal media have churned out recently and which NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell was brought on last night's "Hannity" to address.
Also discussed on the June 10 "Media Mash" segment, the media's sensitive treatment of disgraced columnist Helen Thomas, who abruptly "retired" following a controversy regarding her suggestion that Israelis should "get the hell out of Palestine" and go back to Germany and Poland [MP3 audio available here; WMV video for download here]:
BRENT BOZELL: If I were Helen Thomas, I wonder, what is she more offended by, conservatives who call her a socialist and a radical, or her liberal friends who've all gone on national television to say she's senile? And if it is true that she is that senile, what was she doing in the White House all these years? Here's a woman who has spent decades with this anti-Semitic vicious vitriol that she spews out. And here they are all marching behind her.
We all know the BP oil spill is a huge mess. It's going to be costly to clean up - but just how much? And while some outspoken critics are calling for BP to eliminate its dividend, they probably aren't realizing the residual effects.
"Couple of things - I mean, it is water under the bridge, it is over and you will have to live with it," Gheit said. "BP will have to live with it. We have to remember one thing -- BP bought 10 years ago, Amoco, Arco, a very large American corporation with a lot of people working for BP today. And the retirees are pensioners from the Amoco and Arco days. So by cutting the dividend we're penalizing completely innocent people that worked very hard for many years. And now, the dividend is the way they support themselves. So, I don't understand."
Instapundit's Glenn Reynolds employed sarcastic irony this morning when he wrote that "Obama’s hate speech is promoting violence against BP." Well, it's at least clear that the blame game out of Washington isn't helping the situation.
Reynolds is referring to a report from TV station WREG in Memphis about an incident involving property damage at a local BP station, and other instances that have occurred in other parts of the country (video is at the link):
Bullets Shatter Glass at BP Gas Station
(Southaven, MS) -- Windows at the BP Gas Station on Highway 51 at Custer Drive were shot out overnight. Folks who work at the store believe the suspects were expressing anger over BP and how it's handling the oil spill.
"I believe that would be the reason," said Alex Saleh. "We don't have any enemies." He said nothing was taken from the store after the windows were destroyed.
Jonathan Alter of Newsweek once again blamed Bush and the Republicans for creating the mess that Obama is now cleaning up, preventing the President from accomplishing his agendas.
Alter, appearing Wednesday on MSNBC’s “The Daily Rundown,” called the BP oil spill crisis “the perfect metaphor” for Obama’s presidency so far. “It’s been cleaning up a lot of the messes left to him by his predecessors,” he stated.
Alter added that Obama is trying to stop an economic depression “that, you know, began to happen on George Bush’s watch.”
“It is a distraction from Obama’s own agenda,” Alter added about the oil spill, “and in that sense, it irritates him.”
It's been more than 50 days since a BP oil rig exploded off the coast of Louisiana, beginning a massive leak of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Miles of beaches have been soiled and birds, turtles and other sea creatures have died. But the most disturbing pictures of the disaster weren't available to the public for more than 40 days.
That was when many people finally witnessed Louisiana's state bird, the brown pelican, literally covered in thick brown oil. Why so long? Because federal agencies including the Coast Guard and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) were preventing the press from reaching many areas affected by the disaster.
CBS, Associated Press, Mother Jones and The Times-Picayune have all complained about local and federal authorities and and British Petroleum contractors inhibiting their reporting.
But while many in the news media blame BP, the real culprit may well be the Obama administration. When asked, Obama and other administration spokespeople say the U.S. government is in charge of the oil spill cleanup.
Has Pres. Obama's ass-kickin' line given license to MSM members to offer cruder commentary? Could be, judging from Mika Brzezinski's Morning Joe performance today, in which she suggested that House Republican leader John Boehner should "just bend over."
Mika normally plays the role of Morning Joe hall monitor, keeping the rambunctious trio of Joe Scarborough, Mike Barnicle and Willie Geist in line. But with Joe away today, it was Mika who indulged in some off-color imagery. Prompting Mika's remark was a clip of Boehner wondering why Pres. Obama isn't looking for someone's "ass to kick" on the subject of unrestrained federal spending.
On Wednesday's Rick's List, CNN's Rick Sanchez twice highlighted how "several Republicans want to keep the cap on what oil companies pay for spills at $75 million" and how apparently that's about "how much they [oil companies] spend on campaign contributions to politicians each year," but omitted that President Obama was the top recipient of money from BP during the 2008 election cycle.
Sanchez first made those statements during a segment just after the beginning of the 3 pm Eastern hour, as he reported on left-wing organization Code Pink's interruption of a hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee earlier on Wednesday. Before playing a clip of the protest, the CNN anchor stated how Diane Wilson "disrupted a Senate hearing this morning by pouring oil all over herself." He continued that Wilson "was arrested, but not before she interrupted Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, who is tied, many would argue, to big oil in Alaska."
Joe Scarborough continued his open defense of the Obama administration’s response to the BP oil spill, on Wednesday’s “Morning Joe.” Facing off against Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), Scarborough called comparisons of the president’s handling of the current crisis with Bush’s handling of Katrina “obscene.”
“Behind the scenes, President Obama from day one was actually very engaged,” Scarborough argued. “[Obama] told his White House staff ‘This is job one,’ ordered all of the agencies to throw the full force of the federal government behind this. I mean...we’ve got the minutes of the meeting from April 22 where he said that.”
Rep. King countered that the administration lacked style in its handling of the crisis, and took eight days to declare it a “matter of national significance.”
Though Scarborough said that President Obama has done everything of “substance” to respond to the spill, King also asked Scarborough what more President Bush could have done to handle the Katrina crisis.
“What could George Bush have done?” Scarborough asked. “A hell of a lot.”
“This is one of the most obscene comparisons, between Katrina and BP,” Scarborough spat out. “I was on the ground from day one. I can tell you the federal government was not there. The state government was not there. The local government was not there.”
“No, you’re wrong, You’re wrong. That is not FEMA’s job,” Rep. King shot back. “That is the job of the mayor and the governor for the first two or three days.”
At this point, it may be safe to say that “Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough is no more Republican than Arlen Specter. After all, the show’s “conservative” host takes almost every opportunity to defend the current administration and dismiss Obama's critics.
On June 9, the panelists were reviewing the Obama administration’s response to the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Scarborough asserted, “A poll yesterday shows that more people think that the government is mishandling this than Katrina, which is just, I think, ridiculous.”
Fellow MSNBC anchor Andrea Mitchell agreed, and noted that the president and his team have been down in the Gulf working hard. And then Mitchell asserted that Obama could have diminished criticism if a week earlier, he had "gone down there and stayed and had a meal with the people, eaten some shrimp.” [MP3 audio avaiable here]
When a protectionist law is enacted and nearly a century later it is inhibiting a recovery from major ecological catastrophe, it's probably time to scrap it or at least temporarily waive it.
But instead a nearly century old provision known as the Jones Act of 1920 is wielding the wrath of unintended consequences. According to the Heritage Foundation, this protectionist measure was put in place to defend the American maritime industry, but is endangering far more jobs than it is protecting.
"The Jones Act, which is supposedly about protecting jobs, is actually killing jobs," Heritage co-authors James Dean and Claude Berube wrote in a June 8 The Foundry post. "The jobs of fishermen, people working in tourism and others who live along the Gulf Coast and earn a living there are being severely impacted. There are also additional private sector jobs which are NOT being created in the United States since the Jones Act effectively prices U.S. based companies out of the ability to be competitive on the competitive global market. As we strive to develop new technologies for a cleaner environment at sea, the Jones Act continues to hobble our own capabilities, sometimes with devastating results."
I believe the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is the fault and responsibility of British Petroleum, and I believe they should be held accountable and made to pay for stopping the leak, cleaning up the water, beaches and wetlands, even if it takes every cent the company makes for the next ten years.
I believe that they should be sued by the feds, the state government and the families who are suffering from the millions of gallons of crude oil that's not only poisoning their waters but also threatening their very way of life.
And having said that, I want to say this.
Now is not the time for lawsuits, finger pointing, meaningless meetings and bureaucratic BS.
Now is the time for action and all energy should be focused on getting the spill stopped and the mess cleaned up.
The mainstream media seem to have boiled down the president's reaction to the Gulf spill to two caricatures: either he has failed to satiate public appetites by feigning outrage, or he is succeeding by acting angry. Whereas journalists rightly expected President Bush to do something about Katrina--and excoriated him when he supposedly didn't do enough--the media seem content listening to Obama speak.
That the president may not be doing everything in his power, like, say, meeting with the CEO of British Petroleum, seems not even to cross their minds. So the only critique of the president that remains is one of style. By focusing on what the president has said--rather than what he has done--and how he has said it, the media have diverted (albeit unintentionally) attention from the administration's actual response to the spill to its emotional and verbal response.
Obama and his predecessor both accepted responsibility for the spill and Hurricane Katrina, respectively. But the mainstream press took the former at his word; they rightfully held him accountable for his administration's actions. No such accountability is present in the media's reporting on Obama's response to the Gulf spill.
On Tuesday’s World News, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos touted how “we've got a new poll out tonight that shows the Tea Party may be losing steam nationwide” as its unfavorable rating has “gone up eleven points in the last couple of months to 50 percent. Their favorable rating has gone down.”
Stephanopoulos and ABC, however, didn’t find time, in multiple stories on the oil leak, to inform viewers how the same ABC News/Washington Post survey, released Tuesday morning, found that by 49 to 44 percent the public disapproves of President Obama's handling of the disaster. In addition, “the number of Americans who think the President ‘understands the problems of people like you,’ at 51 percent, is down from 56 percent in a Washington Post poll in late March; and at 57 percent his rating as a strong leader is down from 65 percent in March.” (PDF of poll results)
Huffington Post writer and author of poetry and fiction, Anis Shivani, demonstrated what we have seen in bits and pieces throughout the liberal MSM, though it is rarely seen in such dramatic and sweeping fashion. Shivani harnessed all of the rational thought he could muster, gathered a bevy of intelligent rhetoric, armed himself with a cache of well-reasoned arguments and... quickly dispensed with them prior to writing his recent column.
The gist of the piece? Every major catastrophe to hit America can be traced to one singular event - George Bush and the 2000 Presidential election results.
Shivani starts off by listing examples of American catastrophes - 9/11, Enron, Katrina, Wall Street, the BP spill.
He then explains (emphasis mine throughout):
"It all began with the Florida election theft in 2000 (all of the now-familiar excuses were first used in full force, in total conjugation, for this first disaster). It gave a signal to everyone managing and regulating and overseeing any kind of operation, public or private, that henceforth it was the day of the jackals, that accountability and honesty and certitude were out the door."
For good measure - and in tune with his liberal colleagues - the BP oil spill is singled out as being directly Bush's fault:
More than 24 hours after NBC's Matt Lauer prompted him to say it in an interview, the morning programs all showcased it – and even after day-long playback on the cable channels – CBS and NBC on Tuesday night delighted in again highlighting President Barack Obama's boast that he's gathering information on the oil leak “so I know whose ass to kick.”
Katie Couric put the soundbite, from a competitor, at the top of the CBS Evening News: “In a TV interview aired today, the President said if BP's CEO worked for him, he'd be fired. And Mr. Obama defended his handling of the disaster.”
NBC Nightly News provided a re-run. A day after anchor Brian Williams trumpeted as “just into us” the bite illustrating how Obama “showed some anger on the topic of his handling of this spill so far,” reporter Anne Thompson touted: “Criticized for not conveying his anger over the nation's greatest environmental disaster, President Obama fired back during an exclusive interview with NBC's Matt Lauer.”