Fox News' purportedly objective daytime news programs have a couple of business "experts" that they regularly host to comment on economic issues. One is Stuart Varney, who, by his own admission, is "very partisan" and who has repeatedly advocated for Republican Congressional victories on Fox. Another is oil man Eric Bolling, who, both on and off the air, has proven to be a far-right ideologue as well.
On the Fox Business Network, Bolling hosts a 10PM opinion show, a goal of which is to "beat liberalism/socialism/'progressivism' back to where it came from," according to Bolling. As evidenced by frequent rants on his Facebook page (posted below), Bolling sees himself as a die-hard warrior against liberals in the fight to save America -- which is all well and good so long as it stays on his opinion program.
But Bolling has appeared on Fox News Channel's "straight news" shows (America's Newsroom, Happening Now and America Live) 10 times in just the past two weeks, where he is presented as an authoritative analyst brought on to explain economic developments or data, "break it down," and "put it in perspective for us," in the words of two Fox anchors. Today, Bolling appeared on America's Newsroom to discuss President Obama's latest remarks on energy, and co-host Martha MacCallum told viewers that Bolling "has followed all this, you know, traded oil commodities for 20 years so he knows whereof he speaks."
Fox's "straight news" programs couldn't get away with hosting Sean Hannity or Glenn Beck to break down the latest jobs numbers, so why is Bolling any different? Perhaps if his economic expertise or insight was such that we could have confidence that he wouldn't let his stark political views interfere with his analysis, then maybe I could be convinced that his Fox News appearances are appropriate. But that's simply not the case (despite Bolling's declaration that his knowledge is superior to that of Energy Secretary Steven Chu.)
Case in point: Almost every time Bolling talks about drilling and oil prices on either Fox News or on his FBN show, he tells a story that is so false it has even been rejected by those who share Bolling's energy agenda. As he tells it -- often with the help of visual aids -- the reason oil prices dropped from $147/barrel to $33 in the second half of 2008 is that President Bush lifted the executive offshore drilling ban, the implication being that if Obama would only announce a big drilling expansion, Americans could be free of these high prices. Earlier this month, Michael Canes, the former Chief Economist of the American Petroleum Institute explained why Bolling's analysis of 2008 oil prices is "not correct."
We posted Canes' 5-point rebuttal on March 8. Since then, Bolling has repeated the fable at least 5 times on Fox News and Fox Business, and there's evidence that Bolling's own guests and colleagues are growing wary. On Tuesday's edition of Bolling's show, investment broker and former Republican Senate candidate Peter Schiff stopped Bolling in the middle of his spiel to explain that the claim is "not justified" and "not logical." Bolling's response: "Peter, I've been doing this for 23 years. I'll tell you exactly what happened." Watch it:
Despite Schiff explaining to his face why Bolling's analysis is wrong, he repeated it yet again this morning on Imus only to be rebuffed by his Fox Business colleague Dagen McDowell:
BOLLING: Dagen, prices fell the exact sane week that George Bush pulled the moratorium on offshore drilling. The same week. It was July of 2009.
MCDOWELL: Oh, and the drop in demand had nothing to do with it?
BOLLING: I'm sorry, July, 2008. It was the same exact week.
DAGEN MCDOWELL: It was a huge drop in demand because of the financial crisis and because of the high prices.
BOLLING: Embrace it. Embrace it. Drill, baby, drill. [Fox Business, Imus In the Morning, 3/31/11, via Nexis]
So why is Bolling presented as an expert on Fox News' daytime programs when it's evident that his partisan worldview badly distorts his economic analysis? This is a question Fox News should consider when it insists that the network's news programming offers objective journalism walled off from the conservative agenda of its opinion shows.
From the Facebook page of Fox News' economic expert Eric Bolling:
- "Headed>Studio "N" for hit w/ Martha MacCallum... energy! 23 years in oil business, I have something important to say. Obama is purposely killing our oil industry." [3/31/11]
- "HAGN everybody! Loved every minute of hanging and commenting with you tonight! Up and at them (liberals) early in the am" [3/29/11]
- "Fired up tonight...liberalism killing America. We go at it! Wanna see me lose it? Watch at 10p FBN" [3/29/11]
- "Common liberal tactic.. make $&*% up and declare it true.. not in my house brutha Pap!" [3/29/11]
- "Wonder why I am arguing with everyone tonight? Progressives get me worked up because they really con't believe their own BS, do they?" [3/29/11]
- "Understand something folks.. if oil goes away, we all have to crawl to the progressives/liberals on our hands and knees and beg for energy/fuel" [3/29/11]
- "FTM Friday! provocative, informative and unabashedly pro-Reagan Conservative" [3/25/11]
- "These leftists believe their prepared talking points... even when reality smack them in the face... Obama is NOT a leader! He was on vacation when we were launching our newest war games." [3/23/11]
- "Thank guys... lots more work tomorrow... going hard core tomorrow night.. progressives BEWARE!" [3/21/11]
- "Be assured Im working hard for FTM- bring you the truth about the left. Tomorrow, 6a thru our show doing local Fox, radio, whatever it takes!" [3/15/11]
- "Let me explain (slowly) so the liberals can follow. Use more nuclear means use less oil/gas to generate power, means less dependent on foreign sources for oil.. OR DRILL HERE!!@!*%$!!!!!! wake the hell up!" [3/12/11]
- "I promise to work for you.. expose the left wingnuts and the corrupt-o-crats.. all I ask is that you get the FTM word out. Lets make 10p ROCK!" [3/11/11]
- "Corruption Matrix next... and guess what we uncovered... more corrupt politicians... why are they all Democrats?" [3/11/11]
- "Morning.. Lots to talk about tonight... Progressives/Liberals beware.." [3/9/11]
- "Oh boy... These liberals are drunk on the Kool-aid... Socialist flavored" [3/1/11]
- "HAGN everybody... more work to be done tomorrow....beating liberalism/socialism/"progressivism" back to where it came from..." [2/28/11]
- "You guys are too much fun. have to say goodnight, gotta slay some liberals tomorrow, they'll be all fired up after their big Oscar evening" [2/27/11]
- "These Liberals just keep drinking the Kool-Aid... unions are killing America... American businesses and jobs." [2/18/11]
- "Liberal Progressives want a fight? We got a lotta fight in us. Follow The Money taking to the liberal agenda.." [2/1/11]
- "Greedy American companies? America was built on free market capitalism...Don't blame American business.blame the progressives- they've saddled businesses with the 2nd highest corporate tax rate in the dev world + more damn regulation (light bulbs, really?) than anywhere else on the planet.. You blame the Founding Fathers for fighting for freedom from British tax, + oppression in the name of free market capitalism?" [1/30/11]