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):
Yesterday at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, the headline at reporter Jim Kuhnhenn's story on President Obama's latest excuse to add more bureaucrats to the government payroll ("Obama wants to target oil market manipulation") presupposed the existence of oil market manipulation when none has been proven. In 850 words, he didn't find any space for critics of the move, who include the Daily Ticker's Henry Blodget, CEO of Business Insider, using descriptions like "embarrassing," "give me a break," "smoke and mirrors," and "a crock." Finding contrary opinion is something Kuhnhenn would almost definitely have done with an economy-related move of a Republican or conservative president.
Before getting to Blodget, let's look at what the government itself had to say to everyday Americans about what influences gas prices just two months ago at the USA.gov blog (bolds are mine):
There are times when I'm truly sickened by the total lack of economic acumen possessed by today's so-called journalists.
On PBS's McLaughlin Group this weekend, Newsweek's Eleanor Clift once again said something so totally ignorant that she had to be corrected by US News & World Report's Mort Zuckerman (video follows with transcript and commentary):
"Gas prices are soaring again in 2012, yet the auto industry is booming, and drivers, while annoyed, are mostly taking rising fuel costs in stride. What’s changed?" Time magazine's Brad Tuttle asked in an April 10 TIME Moneyland blog post. Tuttle offered numerous explanations but failed to consider the media's coverage as one explanation for why Americans seem to not be seething angry about high gas prices.
As our colleague Julia Seymour of the Media Research Center's Business & Media Institute noted earlier this month (emphasis mine):
In an opinion piece for CNBC.com on Wednesday, Street Signs anchor Brian Sullivan argued: "...for the majority of the country, $4 gas isn't going to doom us or our economy....right now it just doesn't add up. After all, it looks like $5 is the new $4 when it comes to gas prices and the economy."
Sullivan cited new car sales being on the rise, with those vehicles having better gas mileage, and pointed to inflation causing $4 a gallon to actually be "somewhere in the $3.64 range in 2007 dollars today." In addition, he noted the payroll tax cut "mitigates much of the impact."
NPR's Tamara Keith filed a one-sided report on Monday's Morning Edition about Mitt Romney's "apparent shift in emphasis, if not an outright reversal" on the issue of energy policy. Keith cited the "liberal news site Think Progress" as one of her main sources for her report. She also turned to a former aide to Democrats John Kerry and Deval Patrick without giving his political/ideological affiliation.
Fill-in host David Greene spotlighted in his introduction to Keith's report how "the GOP candidates have seized on price spikes as a line of attack against President Obama, largely saying the answer is more domestic oil drilling. But one of those candidates, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, used to have a position somewhat contrary to that."
I had to make sure that the Conference Board, which issues one of the most closely watched consumer confidence reports each month, didn't issue some kind of update during the day after telling us in the morning that its reading for March came in at 70.2, down from 71.6 in February.
Nothing changed. But oh how the Associated Press's headlines about the Board's reported results changed in successive dispatches authored by the wire service's Anne D'Innocenzio, as seen after the jump from Google News listings:
Today on the Chicago Tribune's front page, above the fold, is the headline "Pricey gas seen as good, in a way." The story also appears on the Los Angeles Times's Web site with the title "Gas prices' jump attests to upbeat economy." Yes, happy days are here again and much of the mainstream media are feeling glad all over, hoping the purported much-improved economy will enhance President Barack Obama's re-election bid. The article notes:
The U.S. recovery has solidified through the fall and so far this year, as shown by strong job reports and last week's news of 1.1% increase in retail sales in February.
Rising gasoline prices are NOT President Obama's fault. Or so you want us to believe. However, could you be just a little less blatant in pitching that line? As it is, your lack of subtlety in hammering home that message is embarrassing to read such as your latest example in which you mention that some people blame Obama along with a lot of other reasons but the only people you actually cite in the article on the subject of presidential responsibility are those who find him faultless in the price rise:
Friday's New York Times column by Paul Krugman is titled "Paranoia Strikes Deeper." (It's evidently a sequel to Krugman's "Paranoia Strikes Deep" column of November 9, 2009. We eagerly await the final installment of the trilogy, "Paranoia Strikes Deepest," which should come out before the 2012 election.)
On Thursday's CBS This Morning, Charlie Rose shamelessly boosted the Obama campaign's talking point about the economy: "The President will...say, things are in much better shape...so my policies are, at long last, working." When Haley Barbour replied that "the liberal media leads you to think that the economy's getting great," Rose sneered, "I didn't realize you think the Federal Reserve chairman is a liberal media elite" [audio available here; video below the jump].
The CBS anchor also raised Mitt Romney aide Eric Fehrnstrom's recent "Etch-A-Sketch" comment with the former Mississippi governor: "You have a candidate who conservatives don't seem to be sure about. And now, you have this Etch-a-Sketch thing. Does that simply make their doubts deeper?"
Here's some good advice from Rush Limbaugh's opening monologue today: "If I were you, I would regard every AP story, particularly this year, as nothing more than a propaganda piece for the reelection of Barack Obama."
What occasioned Rush's rant is the thinly disguised propaganda today from the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, concerning President Obama's visit to Cushing, Oklahoma to pretend that he's really a fan of the Keystone Pipeline, starting with the following headline:
As NewsBusters has been reporting for weeks, the Obama-loving media - quite contrary to what they did when George W. Bush was in office - are doing their darnedest to downplay the seriousness of the exploding prices people are paying at the pump.
Doing its part Wednesday was CNN Money which actually published a piece with the laughable headline, "Rising Gas Prices Aren't as Bad as You Think."
Break out the champagne! Put on your party hats! ABC News has announced that we now have the highest gasoline prices ever for March.
Huh? So why the celebrations? Because to watch joyful GMA host George Stephanopoulos in the video below the fold you would think we should all be happy because despite the gloomy news about the high gasoline prices, they MIGHT come down soon. First the harsh reality about current gasoline prices as reported by Zunaira Zaki in this ABC News business blog:
The average price of a gallon of regular is now $3.87, the highest recorded price in March. The average price is up nearly 4 cents from a week ago, and over 30 cents from a year ago, according to the Department of Energy, as more drivers face gas prices of $4 a gallon or more across the country.
When President Barack Obama recently pontificated on gas prices, the broadcast networks listened, and parroted his explanations of why gas prices have more than doubled since he took office. But the networks had a much different take on gas prices when a Republican president was in office.
On March 7, 2012, Obama declared: “We've got 2 percent of the world oil reserves; we use 20 percent. What that means is, as much as we're doing to increase oil production, we're not going to be able to just drill our way out of the problem of high gas prices.”
Another example of how out of touch the Washington press corps is with what is common knowledge amongst conservatives. On Face the Nation, host Bob Schieffer was flummoxed by Mitt Romney’s contention that Obama officials desire high gas prices:
Mitt Romney said...that the President actually wanted gas prices to go up when he was running for President. He also said the President should fire his three top energy people because they were trying to get the price up. What’s that about?
Guest David Axelrod of the Obama campaign assured Schieffer: “Well, I think it’s about nonsense is what it's about.” Minutes later, when RNC Chairman Reince Priebus pointed out “the President’s own energy czar said -- and this is undisputed -- that he wanted gas prices to go to European levels,” a clueless Schieffer talked over Priebus, demanding: “When did he say that?”
On February 28, as reported at the Politico, Obama administration Energy Secretary Steven Chu told a House panel the following in response to a question he interrupted about his interest in having an "overall goal" of lowering gas prices: “No, the overall goal is to decrease our dependency on oil, to build and strengthen our economy.” Yesterday, also as carried at the Politico, Chu effectively retracted that statement, as well as his more infamous September 2008 assertion that he would like to see gas prices in the U.S. resemble those seen in Europe.
A search on Chu's full name (not in quotes) at the Associated Press's main national site and through Google at its hosted2.ap.org site returns nothing relevant to either story. It would not be unreasonable to assert that the Politico, with little or nothing in the way of direct subscriber or member outreach, it the place where many negative stories about the Obama administration get posted -- and go no further.
The New York Times told us about three weeks ago that "there's little President Obama" can do about the current pump price of gas. Since then, it has become a well-established media meme. Poor guy.
Well, not really. Four years ago, another U.S. president did something which caused the barrel price of oil to drop by over $6, and the press spent the rest of the day trying to pretend that the drop had nothing to do with his actions -- and almost succeeded. What follows is from my related NewsBusters post on July 15, 2008 ("Oil Drops Over $6 a Barrel; I Wonder Why?"):
An MSNBC political analyst on Tuesday actually said that Alabama women voting for Rick Santorum in the Republican presidential primary that just concluded in that state "really hurts" her.
Talking to Lawrence O'Donnell on The Last Word, Karen Finney arrogantly said, "It’s a little painful because I’m wondering if those women really heard the full message" (video follows with transcribed highlights and commentary):
Charlie Rose and Bob Schieffer were President Obama's Amen corner on the issue of gas prices on Tuesday's CBS This Morning. Rose shamelessly claimed, "The President has a point...There's little that he can do...in the short term to affect gas prices, and gas prices hurts his political chances." Schieffer replied, "That's right on all counts...the problem is...people think there are things he can do about it."
President Barack Obama's energy plan involves radically increasing gas prices to the European rate of about $10 a gallon. And he's well on his way, as gas prices have more than doubled since he took office in January 2009, when gasoline was only $1.79 per gallon. And he's scheming to double prices again in his second term, with you footing the bill.
It's no secret that we're being gouged at the pumps. The reason for soaring gas prices? According to Obama, it's not because of anything he has done — not his devaluing the dollar via his disastrous economic decisions, his closing federal lands for oil production opened by his predecessor, his passing cap-and-trade legislation in the middle of the worst economy since the Great Depression or his refusing to stand strong against the regime in Iran, which controls 20 percent of the world's oil supply via the Strait of Hormuz.
The issue of rising costs at the gas pump is a reality many American families are fighting with daily. Americans drive to visit family, friends, or to go to work every day to help provide the American dream for their family. The cost to fill up their cars has a great effect on their daily lives. The national media’s coverage of the rising costs has been anything but balanced. The national media should report the facts about the rise in gas prices objectively and let the people make their own decisions.
Instead, the national media repeatedly downplays and defends the rising cost of gasoline. A recent study by the Business and Media Institute (BMI) found that news coverage of gas prices are four times less likely under this administration than under the previous.
In an interview with Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson aired on Friday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer pushed the oil company executive to reject a plan by Newt Gingrich to lower the price of gas: "Newt Gingrich is promising Americans that he can deliver gasoline at $2.50 a gallon. Is he being truthful with the American public, in your opinion?"
Tillerson responded: "Well, I haven't seen his specific plan for doing that. I guess the thing that might concern me would be, would you be taking some short-term action simply to achieve a short-term result that could, in fact, be very detrimental to the longer term security of energy, moderate pricing of energy for the country?"
Since Jan. 1, the price of gas has soared 45 cents a gallon — the highest on record for this time of year. AAA reported this past week that the national average of unleaded gasoline climbed from Feb. 28's $3.71 per gallon to March 2's $3.73 per gallon and then up again to $3.76 per gallon over the weekend — the 25th straight increase in the past month.
According to The Associated Press, the nationwide price of gas is expected to reach $4.25 by the end of April. But in many cities across the nation, people don't have to wait for April showers to bring May's misfortunes.
The three networks have, thus far, skipped Tuesday's revelation by Energy Secretary Steven Chu that the "overall goal" of the Obama administration isn't to get gas prices down. This is despite the fact that ABC, NBC and CBS have previously focused on the rising gasoline prices in general.
Politico reported, Tuesday, "The Energy Department isn't working to lower gasoline prices directly, Secretary Steven Chu said Tuesday after a Republican lawmaker scolded him for his now-infamous 2008 comment that gas prices in the U.S. should be as high as in Europe."
Comedian Jon Stewart apparently thinks the economy is just fine and that any news outlet that says otherwise must be doing it because they don't want President Obama to get reelected.
Even more preposterous, on Tuesday's Daily Show, the host did an entire segment on how Fox News reporting the national debt, unemployment, and rising gas prices is all a Republican National Committee conspiracy (video follows with highlights and commentary):