Wash. Post Promotes Flawed Fox News Poll On Keystone XL


The Washington Post cited an unreliable Fox News poll to claim that public support for the Keystone XL pipeline "has reached a new high," uncritically repeating the falsehood that the pipeline would lower gasoline prices.

In a survey conducted in late February, Fox News asked respondents whether they support Keystone XL, stating:

Supporters of the pipeline say it would bring needed oil to the U.S., lowering gasoline costs and creating jobs. Opponents of the pipeline have environmental concerns, including the risk of a spill, and also say the pipeline would increase American dependence on oil.

In fact, many supporters of the project -- including the economist hired by TransCanada to assess its economic benefits -- have admitted that the pipeline would have no meaningful impact on gasoline prices. Energy experts across the political spectrum agree that because oil prices are set on the world market, the impact of the pipeline would be "miniscule," and that the best way to reduce our vulnerability to gas price spikes is to decrease our dependence on oil.

Even the Washington Post's own fact-checker has said it is "a step too far" to assert that Keystone XL would impact gas prices.

But that didn't stop the Post from promoting the poll results and uncritically repeating Fox's claims about the benefits of the pipeline:

[P]roponents say the project would create thousands of jobs and lower gasoline prices in the United States.

The Post noted that President Obama's stated intentions to act on climate change "could have implications for the Keystone XL project," but it failed to mention that the Fox News poll question omitted climate concerns, which have been a driving force behind public opposition to the project.

Perhaps due to this unbalanced explanation of the arguments for and against the pipeline, a February 2012 Fox News poll found higher support for Keystone XL than other polls, at 67 percent. While the Post stated that support for Keystone XL has hit a "new high" at 70 percent, it did not mention that the latest numbers are within the margin of error of last year's poll.

Posted In
Environment & Science, Climate Change, Energy
The Washington Post
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