One Wednesday, the New York Times ran a biased story by official fact-checker Linda Qiu in defense of President Biden and high gas prices: “Invasion and Pandemic, Not Policies, Are Driving Up Gas Prices.” The online headline was more partisan: “Republicans Wrongly Blame Biden for Rising Gas Prices.” It's a far cry from the paper's reaction to high prices during the last Bush administration.
As gas prices hit a high this week, top Republican lawmakers took to the airwaves and the floors of Congress with misleading claims that pinned the blame on President Biden and his energy policies.
Mr. Biden warned that his ban on imports of Russian oil, gas and coal, announced on Tuesday as a response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, would cause gas prices to rise further. High costs are expected to last as long as the confrontation does.
Gas prices were already high when the war began, having risen by roughly a dollar since Biden took office and have soared ever higher since.
While Republican lawmakers supported the ban, they asserted that the pain at the pump long preceded the war in Ukraine. Gas price hikes, they said, were the result of Mr. Biden’s cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline, the temporary halt on new drilling leases on public lands and the surrendering of “energy independence” -- all incorrect assertions.
These claims are misleading. The primary reason for rising gas prices over the past year is the coronavirus pandemic and its disruptions to global supply and demand.
“Covid changed the game, not President Biden,” said Patrick De Haan, the head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy, which tracks gasoline prices. “U.S. oil production fell in the last eight months of President Trump’s tenure. Is that his fault? No.”
Given that Biden previously bragged about a temporary decline in gas prices in December, apparently he thinks he has some control over gas prices.
As pandemic restrictions loosened worldwide and economies recovered, demand outpaced supply. That was “mostly attributable” to the decision by OPEC Plus, an alliance of oil-producing countries that controls about half the world’s supply, to limit increases in production, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Domestic production also remains below prepandemic levels....
Any blame for Biden was couched in mild terms.
These factors are largely out of Mr. Biden’s control, experts agreed, though they said he had not exactly sent positive signals to the oil and gas industry and its investors by vowing to reduce emissions and fossil fuel reliance.
However much control a president actually has over the price at the pump, the Times’ defensive attempt to circle the wagons for Biden against Republican criticism was nothing like the gas attacks it ran against Republican President George W. Bush.
A 2006 story began:
President Bush spent an Earth Day marked by record-high gas prices promoting his support for hydrogen-powered fuel cell cars, but Democrats said that the vehicles were years away from reality and that the president needed to do more to relieve sticker shock at the pump.
Within a single month of election year 2008, the paper ran four front-page stories on high gas prices under Bush.
A front-page 2008 story that described President Bush as “detached from the nation’s economic woes” lead off:
The first hint that President Bush might be detached from the nation's economic woes was in February, when he conceded that he had not heard about predictions of $4-a-gallon gasoline.
But in a 2011 story, with Barack Obama in office, the paper suddenly rediscovered the price of gas was all about supply and demand.