Fox News is seizing on high gas prices in California to push for opening up new areas, including the California coast, to drilling, ignoring the real factors driving up prices at the pump. But experts say increasing U.S. production will have no impact on gas prices, and that the only way to protect against price spikes is to reduce consumption.
Gas prices in California hit near-record highs this week as a result of supply disruptions at several key refineries in the state as well as the shutdown of a contaminated pipeline. Fox & Friends devoted an entire segment to the California price spike this morning without once mentioning these factors. Instead, Fox's Charles Gasparino blamed President Obama for implementing "policies that discourage drilling." While Gasparino acknowledged that "some of this is out of [Obama's] control," he said the President should know that "we could have lower gas prices, lower oil prices if you start drilling."
Later on Varney & Co., Fox Business' Charles Payne blamed California policies, saying: "They won't take advantage of natural resources, they won't allow drilling, it's just economic suicide."
Local media are misrepresenting the solutions to the price spike as well. An OC Register editorial claimed that drilling off the coast of California would drive down prices:
Gasoline prices in reached a record high in California this week, making us wonder if it might be time to revisit energy policies in the state. Determining what causes the rise and fall of gas prices isn't easy - there are whole industries devoted to it. However, there are a few things that certainly don't help and ought to be corrected.
Let's begin with supply. California artificially constricts fuel supplies by banning oil drilling along the coast. The Federal Energy Information Administration estimated in June 2011 that there were some 15.4 billion barrels in the Monterey Formation off the coast of California. "If the EIA estimate is reasonably close to the mark, the Monterey Formation would be in a class with oil fields in Saudi Arabia," wrote Tom Gray for City Journal. To put that in perspective, that's roughly quadruple the estimated reserves in North Dakota's Bakken shale formation. By Gray's count, those barrels would be worth about $1.5 trillion in today's prices, and prices are expected to rise.
But because the price of oil is dictated by the global market, expanding U.S. production would not protect against price spikes. A recent analysis by the Associated Press found "[n]o statistical correlation between how much oil comes out of U.S. wells and the price at the pump."
Fox Business host Stuart Varney argued that cutting the federal subsidy to public broadcasting would not harm programming, because "Big Bird would still be around." In fact, cutting funding to public broadcasting would put many public broadcast stations in peril and do almost nothing to stem the tide of federal debt.
It took less than ten minutes after the Bureau of Labor Statistics released new jobs numbers this morning for Fox to start promoting conspiracy theories about the reported drop in unemployment.
Commenting on the jobs report as the numbers first came in this morning, Fox Business host Charles Payne speculated that "some people will be very cynical that a government number will come out this great on the eve of the election." Indeed, "some people" at Fox -- including Payne himself -- have subsequently spent much of the day trying to cast doubt on the numbers, with several Fox personalities and guests openly speculating that the BLS may have cooked the books to bolster Obama's chance at reelection.
In fact, much of Fox's coverage today has focused on the "questions" surrounding the supposedly "fishy" and "convenient" jobs report that the New York Times described as "unexpected good news" for President Obama.
Veteran economics journalists have dismissed these conspiracies as "implausible" and "unfounded."
From the September 18 edition of Fox Business' Varney & Company:
Over the past year, Fox News has repeatedly taken President Obama's remarks out of context or distorted his words in order to attack him. The Romney campaign has amplified several of these attacks, and in turn, Fox News has at times hyped those attacks.
The Daily Caller's dubious report suggesting a connection between a David Axelrod tweet about Gallup's polling methodology and a Justice Department lawsuit filed against that company found its way to Fox News, which embellished the already problematic story by fabricating the existence of direct communications between Axelrod and Gallup's employees.
On his Fox Business program this morning, Stuart Varney claimed that Axelrod, "reportedly furious" over a May Gallup poll unfavorable for President Obama, "personally contacted some Gallup employees who now say they felt threatened."
Here is the sum total of Axelrod comments cited, directly or indirectly, by the Daily Caller article Varney was pushing. Note how "furious" Axelrod appeared to be.
The Caller article did not show that Axelrod directly contacted anyone at Gallup at any time. While it alleged that internal Gallup emails show him "attempting to subtly intimidate" the firm, it provided no direct or indirect evidence that he actually spoke to anyone there. The piece referenced the tweet, and an email in which a Gallup employee mentioned that "the White House 'has asked' a senior Gallup staffer 'to come over and explain our methodology too," with another Gallup employee making a Godfather joke about Axelrod.
Given that the story is clearly being pushed by someone at Gallup who wants to attack the Obama administration, if such direct communications existed they would surely have been given to and then reported by the Caller article's author.
Even conservative bloggers have pointed out that the timeline the Caller article lays out regarding the DOJ's lawsuit against Gallup debunks the article's suggestion of a connection between that lawsuit and Axelrod's single tweet from four months earlier.
A new report from the Energy Information Administration finds that U.S. carbon emissions are at a 20-year low, in part because energy companies are transitioning from coal to natural gas. Fox is seizing on that news to claim that "the free market [is] cleaning up our air," and that the current availability of cheap natural gas undermines the need for government action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But experts say that a variety of factors contributed to the emissions drop, and that shifting to natural gas is not a long-term solution to climate change.
The Energy Information Administration announced earlier this month that U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions in early 2012 were the lowest measured for a January-March period since 1992. The report attributed the decline to a combination of three factors: reduced household heating demand during an unusually warm winter, a decline in coal generation due to low natural gas prices, and low gasoline demand as a result of a slowed economy and the shift towards more fuel-efficient vehicles.
But Fox is ignoring the confluence of factors and touting the decline as a triumph of the free market. A Fox Nation headline today declared: "Free Enterprise Makes the Air Cleaner." On Varney & Company, Fox Business contributor Charles Payne said: "The free market, cleaning up our air. Says a lot about the free market, doesn't it?" And on Money with Melissa Francis, Fox Business reporter Tracy Byrnes called the EIA report "proof that free markets can work better than government overregulation." Byrnes went on to ask her guest why carbon dioxide emissions -- which are not "poisonous" or "inflammable" -- are even a problem in the first place:
Members of the right-wing media have promoted the claim that President Obama has "gutted" Medicare in order to fund health care reform, while GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan is attempting to preserve the program. In fact, though Obama and Ryan have advocated similar spending reductions, the Affordable Care Act would not affect Medicare benefits, while Ryan's plan is projected to harm current and future seniors' care.
During his Fox Business program today, Stuart Varney used deceptively edited video of President Obama praising government action on General Motors to wonder if Obama is advocating "bailouts for everyone." However, Fox didn't play the portion of Obama's remarks in which he made clear he wasn't proposing bailouts or government control of private industry. Obama instead proposed to keep jobs in America through tax code reform and "tax breaks to companies that are investing here."
Varney began the segment by asking, "Is President Obama really saying bailouts are good for everyone?" and then played Obama's remarks at a Colorado Springs, Colorado, event in which he said "the American auto industry has come roaring back" and "what we did with the auto industry, we can do it in manufacturing across America":
VARNEY: Is President Obama really saying bailouts are good for everyone? Listen to what he said yesterday and you decide.
OBAMA (VIDEO CLIP): I said, let's bet on America's workers, and we got management and workers to come together, making better cars than ever, and now GM is number one again, and the American auto industry has come roaring back. So now I want to say, I want to say, what we did with the auto industry, we can do it in manufacturing across America.
Varney responded by asking: "Really? Bailouts for everyone? More government help, that's the answer? Is that what the president is implying and saying?"
If Varney was unclear about what Obama was proposing to helping boost jobs, he probably shouldn't have cut off Obama's speech. Obama said moments later: "I don't want to outsource. I want to insource. Let's reform our tax code and let's make it simpler. And let's make sure that we're providing tax breaks to companies that are investing here in Colorado Springs, here in Colorado -- not overseas."
After hyping exaggerated claims about potential Keystone XL pipeline related jobs, Fox News is now simply inventing them. Fox is claiming that 114,000 U.S. veterans are heading north of the border to build the Canadian portion of the Keystone XL pipeline. In fact, the jobs are "not at all related to the Keystone pipeline," according to the company recruiting workers in Alberta, Canada.
Fox News got the story - and clearly did not check it - from Veterans of Foreign Wars, which sponsors the jobs-listing website, VetJobs, that partnered with the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation to advertise skilled-labor jobs available in Alberta. VFW's press release suggested the jobs would involve the Keystone XL pipeline, stating: "Though America's Keystone Pipeline is delayed, the Canadians are moving forward on their side of the border and have an immediate need for tens of thousands of workers." But in a phone conversation, VetJobs founder Ted Daywalt said he was not trying to imply that the jobs were related to the Keystone pipeline, and that media reports "jumped the gun."
As world leaders gather for the UN's Rio+20 Earth Summit this week in Brazil, Fox is taking the opportunity to once again deny the threat of climate change. Here's David Asman on Fox Business claiming "it's getting colder":
No. It's not.
Stuart Varney mocked the UK's Prince Charles for issuing a statement on the urgency of addressing climate change, arguing that he has no credibility on climate change because "he's not a scientist." But that's never stopped Fox.
From the April 16 edition of Fox Business' Varney & Co.:
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After the EPA proposed regulations on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, several conservative media outlets claimed that the new rule would increase electricity prices for consumers by prohibiting the construction of coal plants without carbon dioxide controls. But economists and other analysts say that because low natural gas prices are already suppressing coal-plant growth, the rule will not significantly affect electricity rates.
From the March 27 edition of the Fox Business Network's Varney & Co.:
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"Completely wrong." "Simply ignorant." "Scientifically incorrect." "Utter Nonsense." "Very odd." These are words scientists have used in the past to describe the nationally televised ramblings of weather forecaster Joe Bastardi, who Fox News hosts from time to time in an apparent effort to dismantle whatever its viewers might know about physics.
When we last saw Joe, he was breaking the news that the world's climate scientists had overlooked the first law of thermodynamics. (He was wrong.) After a thorough round of mockery in the blogosphere, we thought surely Fox would throw away Bastardi's phone number. But here he is on Fox Business this morning, declaring that carbon dioxide "literally cannot cause global warming":
BASTARDI: CO2 cannot cause global warming. I'll tell you why. It doesn't mix well with the atmosphere, for one. For two, its specific gravity is 1 1/2 times that of the rest of the atmosphere. It heats and cools much quicker. Its radiative processes are much different. So it cannot -- it literally cannot cause global warming.
Asked about Bastardi's statements, Kerry Emanuel of MIT said: "Utter rubbish. Sorry to be so direct, but that is just the case." NASA climatologist Gavin Schmidt added: "Bastardi is attempting to throw out 150 years of physics." "He seems very confused," said physicist Richard Muller.