Right-wing media misrepresent Obama remarks about oil spill and 9-11

››› ››› ERIC SCHROECK

Right-wing media have falsely suggested that in an interview with Politico, President Obama equated the disasters of 9-11 and the Gulf oil spill. In fact, Obama said the oil spill is likely to shape future environmental and energy policy, similar to how U.S. foreign policy was shaped by the 9-11 attacks.

Obama: Oil spill likely to shape environmental policy as 9-11 shaped foreign policy

Politico: Obama said oil spill " 'echoes 9/11' because it will change the nation's psyche for years to come." In an interview with Politico, Obama said that the oil spill " 'echoes 9/11' because it will change the nation's psyche for years to come." He further stated: "In the same way that our view of our vulnerabilities and our foreign policy was shaped profoundly by 9/11 ... I think this disaster is going to shape how we think about the environment and energy for many years to come." From the Politico article:

Sounding reflective as he heads into a bruising electoral season, President Barack Obama told POLITICO columnist Roger Simon that the Gulf disaster "echoes 9/11" because it will change the nation's psyche for years to come.

Obama -- facing mounting criticism of his handling of the BP gusher, even from longtime allies -- vowed to make a "bold" push for a new energy law even as the calamity continues to unfold. And he said he will use the rest of his presidency to try to put the United States on a course toward a "new way of doing business when it comes to energy."

"In the same way that our view of our vulnerabilities and our foreign policy was shaped profoundly by 9/11," the president said in an Oval Office interview on Friday, "I think this disaster is going to shape how we think about the environment and energy for many years to come."

Right-wing media omit context, suggesting Obama equated the disasters

Hoft: Obama said "the Oil Spill is Like 9-11." In a June 13 Gateway Pundit post, Jim Hoft wrote: "Barack Obama told The Politico this morning that the Gulf oil spill was like 9-11. Then he went golfing for 4 hours." Hoft did not note the context of Obama's remarks.

Doug Powers: Obama "compar[ed] the oil spill to the most deadly attack on American soil." In a June 13 post on Michelle Malkin's website, guest-blogger Doug Powers wrote, "This morning, Obama compared the spill to 9/11, and right after comparing the oil spill to the most deadly attack on American soil, he went golfing for four hours." He further stated:

9/11 -- you remember that day, when people died in an accident caused by airliners taking maintenance short-cuts combined with government environmental regulations that made buildings taller than they should be followed by the president using the tragedy as justification to pass Cap & Trade. The similarities to the Gulf spill are uncanny!

Wash. Examiner's Hemingway: Obama "playing up the urgency of the oil spill saying it 'echoes 9/11.' " In a June 14 Washington Examiner blog post titled, "Obama: Oil spill 'echoes 911' ... now watch this drive!" Mark Hemingway wrote: "Politico ran a story with the president playing up the urgency of the oil spill saying it 'echoes 9/11.' Then as Jim Hoft notes, he proceeded to go golfing for four hours."

Doocy: Obama "told Politico that this whole disaster has echoes of 9-11"; does not note context of remarks. On the June 14 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy said, "The president told Politico that this whole disaster has echoes of 9-11." Doocy later said: "While this is going on in the Gulf, what is the president of the United States doing yesterday? He spent four hours golfing." Throughout the segment, Fox & Friends did not explain the context of Obama's quote.

Fox & Friends quotes 9-11 family member who criticized Obama but does not mention one who said comparison has validity. During the Fox & Friends segment, Doocy read a quote from a New York Daily News article in which the father of a man who died in the 9-11 attacks said it is "ridiculous" to "compare an environmental accident, if that's what you call it, to a premeditated terrorist attack." Fox News contributor Dana Perino later said during the segment, "For the families of the victims of 9-11, that comparison rings hollow." But Fox & Friends did not note that the same article also stated, "Sally Regenhard, who also lost a son, said she could see some validity to the comparisons." The article quoted Regenhard as saying: "Just like on 9/11, there were no plans for emergency preparedness, coordination of response. ... It's a failure of the system and the government. I'm not offended by the comment."

Fox News host actually did say oil spill could be a "bigger" story than the 9-11 attacks

Shepard Smith: "This could end up being the story of our generation, couldn't it? Bigger than the attacks on the World Trade Center." Mediaite noted on May 26 that Fox News' Shepard Smith stated: "This could end up being the story of our generation, couldn't it? Bigger than the attacks on the World Trade Center, bigger than most anything, if 14 million people live down there and a way of life -- it's just unthinkable."

Like Obama, conservative scholar invoked 9-11 while discussing oil spill. In a May 24 Washington Examiner column, James Carafano, a Heritage Foundation fellow, discussed the "lack of preparation" that "turned thousands of 9/11 responders into 9/11 victims." Carafano went on to discuss the Gulf oil spill and stated, "[H]ave officials learned the painful lesson of this experience? Probably not." Like Obama, Carafano discussed the two disasters without equating them.

Numerous conservatives have compared oil spill to Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina resulted in more than 1,500 deaths. A report from the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee stated that Hurricane Katrina "destroyed an entire region, killing more than 1,500, leaving hundreds of thousands homeless, and ravaging one of America's most storied cities."

Limbaugh: "Obama's Katrina. That damn oil slick just got in the way." During the April 30 edition of his radio show, Rush Limbaugh referred to the oil spill as "Obama's Katrina," adding: "That damn oil slick just got in the way. So he had to give some lip service to the oil slick. 'It's all British Petroleum's fault. They gotta clean it up. I'm sending some czars down there.' "

Fox Nation: "Heckuva job? Obama scrambling after week-old spill." From the Fox Nation, accessed April 30:

fn_obamakatrina

Big Bureaucracy: "Such erratic behavior brings a Katrina déjà vu." An April 29 post on Big Bureaucracy, to which the Fox Nation linked, stated: "Remind you of something: disaster hitting Louisiana, military called too late -- observing while the losers in charge cannot give a decent estimate of the problem for days, The White House waffling on the issue being afraid of midterm elections? Such erratic behavior brings a Katrina déjà vu."

Wash. Times: Obama will "be closely scrutinized for parallels" to Katrina response. In an April 29 Washington Times article, Joseph Curl reported: "Failure to get control of the relief effort and contain the environmental challenge could pose the same kind of political threat to Mr. Obama's popular standing that the much-criticized handling of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina did for former President George W. Bush. And unlike Katrina, it is likely the federal government will be the clear lead authority in dealing with the BP spill." Curl also wrote: "Mr. Obama's response to the disaster will be closely scrutinized for parallels to the response of Mr. Bush to the devastating Hurricane Katrina that blew into New Orleans in August 2005, destroying levies and damaging the below-sea-level city."

Drudge: Response "threatens to turn oil spill into Obama's 'Katrina...'" On April 30, the Drudge Report linked to The Washington Times article with the headline: "Slow federal response threatens to turn oil spill into Obama's 'Katrina'..." From the Drudge Report:

drudge_obamakatrina

Boston Herald blog: "Is Gulf Oil Spill Obama's Katrina?" In an April 30 post headlined, "Is Gulf Oil Spill Obama's Katrina?" the Boston Herald's Lone Republican blog asserted: "If this explosion and delay to react had occurred during President Bush's watch don't you think there would be front page articles hanging Bush out to dry?"

Business Insider: "Hello, The Gulf Oil Spill Is Obama's Katrina." In an April 29 Business Insider article, Joe Weisenthal asserted: "Will the oil spill in the gulf -- which some suspect could be worse than Exxon Valdez -- be the equivalent for Barack Obama?" Weisenthal continued: "Let's at least acknowledge the obvious opposite, that if we were currently in a Republican administration that had just okayed offshore drilling in America, and they had gone eight days without serious action, they'd be getting absolutely pilloried in the press." The article was headlined, "Hello, the Gulf Oil Spill is Obama's Katrina."

Hannity: Oil spill has "been called Obama's Katrina." On the May 7 edition of his Fox News program, Sean Hannity said that the "administration's response to the disaster in the Gulf" has "been called Obama's Katrina." On-screen text during Hannity's comments stated, "Obama's Katrina?"

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