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."
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."
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):
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."
If you think government has all the answers, you'll certainly approve of this call.
Former Clinton Secretary of Labor and CNBC contributor Robert Reich has determined it's time for President Barack Obama to seize the reigns of control from BP (NYSE:BP) and put the North American operations of the company into a "temporary receivership." He told host Michelle Caruso-Cabrera on CNBC's June 1 broadcast of "Closing Bell" that the government was the only entity remaining capable of determining if the oil giant was properly utilizing its resources to contain a spill that has been going on since mid-April.
"Well, Michelle, it is temporary," Reich said. "And the government merely takes over the North America operations, the subsidiary, in order to make sure the public is getting the right information, in order to make sure that risks and benefits are being weighed properly - still using the expertise and intelligence of BP. I think, in fact in many ways BP would want some relief and might even appreciate that direct kind of ownership."
CNN founder Ted Turner, who thinks Christianity is a "religion for losers," apparently believes that the Gulf oil spill could actually be God sending us a message that drilling for oil is bad. Will media liberals read him the riot act as they have Sarah Palin for making similar claims?
"I'm just wondering if God's telling us he doesn't want us to drill offshore," Turner told a CNN interviewer. Recent coal mine disasters, Turner said, may also be signs that "the Lord's tired of having the mountains of West Virginia -- the tops knocked of of 'em so they can get more coal. Maybe we ought to just leave the coal in the ground and just use solar and wind power."
So far the legacy media have been completely silent on Turner's claims (shown in a video below the fold), in stark contrast to Sarah Palin's statement that the construction of an Alaska natural gas pipeline was God's will.
After making a fool out of himself going up against George Will on last Sunday's "This Week," Bill Maher dug an even deeper hole five days later trying to strike back at the well-known columnist with a peculiar blend of falsehoods and Bill Clinton.
As NewsBusters previously reported, Maher was humiliated on national television last week when he errantly claimed Brazil was "off oil" only to be corrected by ABC's token conservative.
On Friday's "Real Time," the HBO host countered first by citing an ad that former President Bill Clinton did back in 2006 in favor of a California ballot initiative that would have implemented a tax on that state's oil producers.
Next, Maher absurdly claimed that "part of the reason" America isn't off oil yet is "because of global warming deniers like George Will" (video follows with transcript and oodles of commentary):
Usually, the crazy rantings of MSNBC host Keith Olbermann can be dismissed as the norm and easily ignored. But on May 5, Olbermann gave a glimpse of an obsession with former Vice President Dick Cheney - a man that has been out of office for 471 days - that was just too bizarre to let go.
Although Olbermann didn't outright absolve the Obama administration for not responding quick enough to the BP oil spill, he channeled the blame in a strange direction.
"The effort to label the Gulf oil spill Obama's Katrina appears to have sputtered, even though, as we will explain, Mr. Obama's administration certainly did allow BP to bypass environmental requirements," Olbermann said. "In our third story tonight, there is a growing pool of evidence, saying nothing of the oil, suggesting a far more apt name for this spill, ‘Cheney's Katrina.'"
Reacting to news the Obama administration wants to postpone a vote on “Cap and Trade” in favor of immigration reform, on Sunday’s Face the Nation New York Times columnist Tom Friedman despaired: “This is a disaster...This is a travesty. Basically, we were about to send the first bi-partisan legislation for radical move toward more green energy, more green jobs and putting a price on carbon...”
Now, he fretted, “in Beijing, they're high- fiving each other. ‘Oh, yeah, baby, this means the Americans are going to be paralyzed on green tech, okay, for another couple of years.’ China is already leading the world now in wind production, China’s already leading world in solar production.”
While he chastised Democrats and Obama for putting the “raw politics” of trying to save Harry Reid ahead of the energy bill, he saved his real disgust for how only one Republican Senator, Lindsey Graham, was willing to help promote “green energy,” charging: “Shame on the Republican Party. There's one Republican for advancing green energy in this country? One Republican Senator dare step out?”
The Pentagon rescinded the invitation of evangelist Franklin Graham to speak at its May 6 National Day of Prayer event because of complaints about his previous comments about Islam.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation expressed its concern over Graham's involvement with the event in an April 19 letter sent to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. MRFF's complaint about Graham, the son of Rev. Billy Graham, focused on remarks he made after 9/11 in which he called Islam "wicked" and "evil" and his lack of apology for those words.
Col. Tom Collins, an Army spokesman, told ABC News on April 22, "This Army honors all faiths and tries to inculcate our soldiers and work force with an appreciation of all faiths and his past comments just were not appropriate for this venue."
Whenever you are bored or in need of a good laugh, help yourself to some mainstream media coverage of the economy under President Obama.
Each month we at NewsBusters wonder how the recession will be spun anew, and each month news outlets act with increasing hilarity.
First up for April was an earnest little piece by USA Today writer Matt Krantz published Thursday. Krantz insisted on reporting "optimism" and "confidence" in the economy thanks to a phantom supply of "new jobs."
Just one little problem, though: Thursday happened to be the same day the Department of Labor announced a surge in unemployment claims that hampered the stock market.
But no matter to Krantz. You see, Krantz wasn't talking about new jobs that actually existed - he was celebrating an announcement from two companies that they would be strong enough to hire a few people sometime in the future.
With summer driving season upon us, it's important to note that there's a traditional jump in gas prices. But will this seasonal adjustment benefit commodities, specifically oil and make the price of gasoline even higher? That could happen if those forms of energy lure investment from what seems to be an over-valued equities market, brought on by what some claim is cheap money.
On her April 5 program, "Closing Bell" host Maria Bartiromo asked CNBC's CME Group floor reporter Rick Santelli if a move higher in commodities was due to inflation. However, according to Santelli, it's not inflation but a move by investors out of a potentially over-valued equities market that will cause a rise in commodities.
"Well, you know, I don't like to link the two together," Santelli said. "I mean, many times you know, it is core [minus] food and energy. So I think throw all that away. I think the better question is, is that when people are afraid to put their money to work in treasuries, because rates may be going higher, maybe afraid that we are a little long in the tooth in the sugar-buzz rally of equities - boy, commodities is the place to be. Most of the good dollar trades probably already out there."
Green jobs to save the American economy? If you have listened to the various politicos on the left end of the spectrum, especially before and after the passage of the $787-billion stimulus package earlier, you would think that is the cure-all.
But so far it isn't working and there are other fundamental problems that lie ahead according to some energy market analysts, like much higher oil prices - despite the pledge by President Barack Obama to open up 160 million acres for future oil exploration and drilling. To avoid the price of $100-plus oil, CNBC's CME Group floor reporter suggested expediting the process, as was the case with ObamaCare and TARP.
"I think what you're hitting on is so important because the President of course talking about some of these jobs, but also talking about drilling," Santelli said on CNBC's April 1 broadcast of "Closing Bell." "You know, if the government was able to put forth health care and the government was able to do bailouts and TARP and stretch the rules, if they wanted to get jobs now and avoid the $100-plus oil you know that's coming they could drill quickly if they wanted to. And this is something that needs to be discussed, don't you think?"
Introducing a segment on Thursday's CBS Early Show about President Obama's decision to open up some new areas to offshore oil drilling, fill-in co-host Jeff Glor warned that some of Obama's "closest allies are especially unhappy." In a report that followed, White House correspondent Bill Plante noted "Environmental groups are disappointed."
However, Plante also touted the idea that the move could help pass unpopular cap and trade legislation, a long-held liberal goal: "Many in Washington see this as a strategy to win Republican support for a climate bill aimed at slowing global warming." He later concluded: "The conventional political wisdom is that this is not the time to have another rancorous nasty debate, like the one over health care, on a climate change bill. But the betting here is that the President's energy policy may make it easier to have that debate."
At the top of the show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez proclaimed: "President Obama's controversial offshore drilling proposal is making big waves. Critics say the risks are obvious, but not the rewards." In a discussion with CBS political analyst John Dickerson after Plante's report, she did little to hide her displeasure with the proposal: "Let's establish right off the bat that this will not – not even remotely free us from our dependence on foreign oil." Dickerson agreed: "You're exactly right."
Poor Barack Obama. Hasn't put a foot wrong. Policies just fine. It's just that he's been dealt the cruel fate of . . . being President of the United States.
That was the essence of what Jonathan Capehart, WaPo editorialist, whistled past the liberal graveyard on Morning Joe today. Confronted with the prez's crumbling poll numbers [by 52-44 margin people don't think PBO deserves to be re-elected], Capehart blamed anti-incumbent fever. It's not that Americans are opposed to the Dems' policies, suggested Capehart: they're just frustrated by how little has been accomplished.
Why don't we play a little game of political prognostication? Imagine that, far from being ineffective, Obama/Pelosi/Reid had managed to push through their entire agenda in the last year. Let's focus on three matters:
As the old cliché goes, you don't use a sledgehammer to crack a nut, but according to Rick Santelli, that's exactly what it appears the Obama administration is doing terms of financial regulation and fiscal discipline.
On CNBC's Feb. 2 broadcast of "Fast Money," host Melissa Lee proposed that taxing the wealthy is not the path to "economic prosperity and fiscal stability." Santelli, the network's CME Group floor reporter, agreed.
"Well, you're right," Santelli said. "But I also think you're going to see when the Bush tax cuts expire, a lot of middle class write-offs and exemptions and various tax benefits will also fall by the wayside. Not the least of which to mention, I have so many friends that work for the financial industry. And they've learned from the government, even if you only make $25,000 to $125,000 a year, one firm says if you leave to go into another job or whatever, anything outside retirement, they're going to keep 10-to-20 percent of the stock they took from you following the government's directives."
President Barack Obama encouraged some business interests by mentioning nuclear energy and offshore drilling during his Jan. 27 State of the Union speech. Those less popular energy solutions joined the usual alternative rhetoric of wind, solar and bio-fuels.
But on CNBC's Jan. 28 "Street Signs," Jim Cramer, host of CNBC's "Mad Money" noted something was missing - an important onshore energy source, natural gas. And as for the nuclear energy signals - he wasn't convinced Obama was serious.
"I mean, I want to point out I thought the nuke thing was just the boilerplate nuke," Cramer said. "[Energy Secretary Steven] Chu is a research director, the Energy Secretary, really is more of a professor. Offshore oil and gas, the issue is onshore. Natural gas wasn't mentioned, got to be really careful about that."
It hasn't been in the limelight recently, but it is coming. According to CNBC contributor John Kilduff of Round Earth Capital, we will soon see the price of reach $100 per barrel.
On CNBC's Jan. 11 "The Kudlow Report," host Larry Kudlow asked Kilduff what it would take for the Obama's administration to change its energy policy to allow for more oil exploration and drilling.
"Oil is hitting a 15-month high at $83 a barrel and it was $30 about a year ago," Kudlow said. "So, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar rules drilling of oil and gas out of bounds for federal lands. No drilling. So, how high does it go before we go back to drill, drill, drill?"
In their report on Ford's November sales results, the Associated Press's Tom Krisher and Dee-Ann Durbin seemed to downplay the company's pretty decent month, and definitely downplayed the company's better near-term prospects compared to its principal rivals. Additionally, despite the report's Wednesday time stamp, the pair didn't update the item's content to compare Ford's performance to its competitors.
A lefty magazine editor has come up with a list of brilliant solutions to the planet's purported climate change problem: make the recession worse, make goods more expensive, and restrict all intercontinental travel to blimps.
So said Emily Douglas, web editor for The Nation, who, when asked Wednesday how we could "reverse our culture of consumerism," replied immediately "make the recession worse."
She later claimed that her response was a bit "tongue-in-cheek," according to CNS News, but admitted that her magazine "never shies away from doomsday scenarios."
There is an inside joke for the veteran viewers of MSNBC’s morning show, ‘Morning Joe,’ which refers back to a time when Joe Scarborough was in a heated debate with Zbigneiw Brzezinski (Mika’s father) over the behind-the-scenes content of President Clinton’s Camp David accords. The elder Brzezinski grew rather frustrated with being out-shouted by Scarborough, and delivered the following zinger:
“You know, you have such a stunningly superficial knowledge of what went on that it's almost embarrassing to listen to you.”
This crushing critique could also be applied to today’s appearance of the New York Times’ Sam Tanenhaus, author of 'The Death of Conservatism,' on that same show. Tanenhaus delivered the following two opinions with an admirably straight face:
SAM TANENHAUS: Yeah, and it was interesting to go to the Clinton school and tell the audience there that the last conservative president in America was Bill Clinton.
"President Obama reeling back the Bush administration's plans for a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe, instead opting for a new system he says is better equipped to fend off an Iranian threat," "Fast Money" host Melissa Lee said on her Sept. 17 show.
On Aug. 3, Richard Bernstein, CEO of Richard Bernstein Capital Management and CNBC contributor, told "Squawk Box" viewers: "One has to wonder how much TARP money has gone into bank balance sheets to speculate on commodities, right? Because the amount that's - the amount of speculation in commodities on bank balance sheets is much larger than what you get from the CFTC."
ABC News' Friday special, "Over a Barrel: The Truth About Oil," was reviewed by David Almasi, one of my colleagues at the National Center for Public Policy Research. He found so much bias in the special, I knew his review would be of interest to Newsbusters readers:
ABC News Finds Selective "Truth About Oil" by David Almasi
Last Friday, July 24, ABC News aired the special "Over a Barrel: The Truth About Oil." It might have been more correctly titled "Charlie Gibson Hates the Oil Companies."
ABC News newsreader Charlie Gibson interviewed 18 people during the course of the program. Seven were gas station owners, refinery workers and the like - people who were there to specifically deliver raw information about the operations of the oil industry. When it came to the 11 people featured for their political insight, it was obvious Gibson only really wanted to hear one viewpoint.
Imagine the post-oil apocalypse, with modern American society heading into a direction with no Disney vacations, no airlines - a world devoid of one-stop convenient big retailers. Sounds like a desolate place, but that's an ideal society according to Forbes magazine Christopher Steiner.
Steiner appeared on NBC's July 24 "Today" and described a world with gas headed to $20 a gallon, but according to him it wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing.
"Well, it's important to understand that $20 per gallon, those types of figures, those are a couple decades away," Steiner said. "But what's important to understand is that we are running out of oil. Over the next 30 years, you're talking about another 2 billion people entering the globe living American-style lives. Right now there's only a billion of those people on the globe and those people are going to want oil. And so our supply is going to slowly go down and demand's going to go up."
It's one of the few times one can wish the reporting by NBC News was right and CNBC was wrong.
A segment on the July 21 "NBC Nightly News" pointed out some of the key points of a budget deal reached between California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and leaders of the state legislature. The deal means some service cuts - but also includes the possibility of exploration and drilling for oil off the California coast.
"California is our biggest state in terms of population and it long ago ran out of money," "Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams said. "They got nothing to pay the vendors they owe and now they have struck a deal for more cuts, and these are going to hurt. They're going to allow offshore drilling for the money it will bring in. The LA Times reports tens of thousands of seniors and children would lose access to health care. Prisoners will spend less time in prison. And the governor is going to sell cars and furniture and office supplies and autograph some of it, he says, to raise more money. It's an unbelievable turn of events."
If Palin Derangement Syndrome-afflicted media members thought the Alaska Governor's surprising pre-Fourth of July announcement meant she was getting out of politics, her op-ed in Tuesday's Washington Post should change their minds.
In a scathing rebuke of the Obama administration, Sarah Palin took off the gloves to attack the recently House-passed American Clean Energy and Security Act, disaffectionately known as cap-and-tax.
Marvelously, Palin also took a couple of jabs at her not so adoring press:
It’s like clockwork. Gas prices have fallen, and so has network news coverage of them. This direct correlation between prices and coverage has caused news of gas prices to essentially disappear in the past week.
The latest Lundberg Survey of fuel prices, released on July 12, showed that gas prices have fallen more than 10 cents over the past two weeks. However, in keeping with the warped coverage of gas prices, the largest drop in prices since December went unreported by all major network morning shows except NBC’s “Today Show”, and even this was hidden away in the hourly news reports.
Perhaps Americans have lost interest in gas prices, and therefore networks now fail to find the topic newsworthy. If that’s the case, the public must have changed its mind since mid-June when, with prices on the rise, coverage was extensive.
CNBC "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer often showcases erratic and unpredictable behavior and the same goes sometimes for his analysis of the stock market.
While the economy continues to struggle through the recession, the forward-looking indicators known as the financial markets continue to perplex Cramer for not going up when some positive signs, also known as "green shoots" by the financial media, are starting show. According to his analysis - it's the government and a reliance on oil futures that have scared off investors.
"How did we reach this point where investors just can't be bothered to respond to clear unalloyed positives or be tempted by low, low prices of so many stocks?" Cramer said. "I think we've been worn down, I think we've been worn down by two different things - first, the government and then oil. And they're what's keeping everyone apathetic about stocks."