Right-wing media agree: BP relief fund result of a White House "shakedown"

››› ››› JUSTIN BERRIER

Numerous right-wing media have agreed with Rep. Joe Barton's (R-TX) claim that the BP escrow account fund designed to aid Gulf residents affected by the oil spill resulted from a White House "shakedown," despite the fact that the plan was "mutually agreed to" by both the administration and BP.

Right-wing media echo Barton's attack of the BP Gulf relief fund, calling it a "shakedown"

Barton apologized to BP CEO for Obama's "shakedown." During BP CEO Tony Hayward's June 17 testimony before Congress, Barton apologized to BP for what he described as Obama's "shakedown," saying: "I'm not speaking for anybody in the House of Representatives but myself, but I'm ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday. I think it is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown. In this case a $20 billion shakedown ... I apologize. I do not want to live in a country where any time a citizen or a corporation does something that is legitimately wrong, is subject to some sort of political pressure that is, again, in my words -- amounts to a shakedown, so I apologize."

Erickson: "Let's be honest. The White House meeting with British Petroleum was a shakedown." In a June 17 RedState post, Erick Erickson echoed Barton's claim that the deal was a "shakedown," saying, "Let's be honest. The White House meeting with British Petroleum was a shakedown." From RedState:

Let's be honest. The White House meeting with British Petroleum was a shakedown.

The White House threatened criminal prosecution of BP, the President gave a miserably received speech, then he hauled BP into the White House and put the Attorney General in the room with the CEO to stare at him, then the President demanded $20 billion.

It was a shakedown.

Big Journalism: Barton's comments were a "relatively mild statement of fact, expressed inoffensively."A June 17 Big Journalism post highlighted Barton's comments and criticized the GOP for not defending him, calling his statement "[a]relatively mild statement of fact, expressed inoffensively."

WSJ: Barton "rightly called" White House "pressure" on BP "a shakedown.In a June 18editorial, The Wall Street Journal stated that, while BP "does not deserve the apology" offered by Barton, it agreed that Barton "rightly called" White House "pressure" on BP "a shakedown. From the WSJ editorial:

There was in particular no reason for BP to compound its error and agree to spend another $100 million to compensate the oil workers sidelined by the Administration's policy choice to impose a drilling moratorium. BP had no liability for these costs, and its concession further separated its compensation from proper legal order. BP deserves to pay full restitution for the damage it has caused, but it ought to do so via legal means, not under what Texas Republican Joe Barton rightly called the pressure of "a shakedown" yesterday. On the other hand, BP does not deserve the apology that Mr. Barton also offered, though he quickly backtracked when the White House pounced on his comments.

Gingrich: Obama "is directly engaged in extorting money" from BP. On the June 17 edition of Fox News' Hannity, Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich responded to Barton's comments by claiming that the Obama administration "is directly engaged in extorting money" from BP.

Hoft: "Of course it was a shakedown. It's the Chicago way." In a June 17 Gateway Pundit post, Jim Hoft wrote: "Of course it was a shakedown. It's the Chicago way. Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) apologizes to BP for the Barack Obama's '20 Billion Dollar Shakedown.' Well said, Congressman."

Napolitano: "That is a classic shakedown." On the June 18 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, Fox News judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano stated: "The government doesn't have the right -- we don't know what happened in the Oval Office, but you guys reported, and the vice president did not deny, that he walked in and basically said give us the $20 billion or we will take it from you. That is a classic shakedown. The threat to do something that you don't have the right to do." Napolitano also falsely claimed that "the White House is going to distribute" the money in the escrow account, when, in fact, the fund is to be administered by an independent third party.

Ingraham: "Joe Barton, before he apologized, had a legitimate point." On the June 17 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham claimed: "I think that Joe Barton, before he apologized, had a legitimate point. First of all, this administration has taken a very aggressive, and I would say strong-arm approach, to private industry across the board. ... I would rather have this fund ... administered by the local authorities."

Limbaugh: Obama taught students "how to use the Constitution to shake down corporations ... much like he's doing to BP." On the June 17 edition of Premiere Radio Network's The Rush Limbaugh Show, Limbaugh said, "In reality, [Obama] didn't teach constitutional law. ... What Obama taught was Rules for Radicals by Saul Alinsky, and how to use the Constitution to shake down corporations through race and grievance lawsuits. That's what he taught students at the University of Chicago. Much like he is doing to BP."

JammieWearingFool: "Aww, the poor babies can't handle the truth." In a June 17 post, JammieWearingFool wrote: "As an American, I'm ashamed of what's been going on at the White House for the past 17 months. Let's hear it for Rep. Joe Barton of Texaswho, I'll remind people, is speaking for himself." He posted a Dallas Morning News article on the statement and wrote, "Aww, the poor babies can't handle the truth."

The escrow fund was a "mutually agreed to" deal

The $20 billion deal was reportedly a mutually agreed to deal. On the June 18 edition of Fox & Friends, after co-host Brian Kilmeade asked him if he was worried "about the government getting too involved," Fox News contributor Geraldo Rivera defended the plan as "mutually agreed to" and "an excellent deal." From Fox & Friends:

RIVERA: The $20 billion deal was a mutually agreed to deal. It settled the market. The stock price of BP went up. It was recognized by everybody as a solution for right now that does not imperil the fate of the company. Eminently reasonable. The amount big enough so that people have some confidence that I've lost my job for three weeks, that I'm going to get paid, I'm going to be able to pay my mortgage, be able to pay the note on my shrimp boat. I think it was an excellent deal, and those that are picking at it now are people who just have to say no to anything that Obama does.

The Washington Post also reported that the deal was mutually agreed upon, reporting that "[b]oth sides got what they wanted out of the encounter." From the Post:

Both sides got what they wanted out of the encounter. The administration, under fire for how it has responded to the environmental calamity, can boast of creating a huge pot of money for easing the pain of Gulf Coast residents. BP, though poorer on paper in the short run, got some much-needed clarity on its long-term liability, plus an explicit statement from Obama that the administration doesn't want to see BP driven into bankruptcy.

WSJ: "BP's agreement to set up the fund is" a sign "that it has no intention of waging an aggressive legal battle." A June 18 Wall Street Journal article said of the plan: "The arrangement initially appeared to be a capitulation to the White House. But setting a figure has the benefit of establishing estimated boundaries for the avalanche of claims the company now faces from individuals, municipalities, states and the federal government." The article continued:

BP's agreement to set up the fund is another in a series of signs that it has no intention of waging an aggressive legal battle, said Richard Squire, a law professor at Fordham University. "BP has always tried to have a good public image," Mr. Squire said. "But to me they're signaling that they don't think they have a very good legal case.

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