With global crude oil prices at their lowest point in seven years, and gasoline prices approaching their lowest point of President Obama's term of office, Media Matters remembers Fox News' hypocritical coverage of the relationship between presidential policy initiatives and fuel and energy markets.
Supply Surge Driving Down Oil, Gasoline Prices
Crude Oil Prices At Lowest Point Since 2008. On December 14, The Wall Street Journal reported that the price of crude oil had temporarily fallen to its lowest point since December 2008. Much of the drop in oil prices can be attributed to a growing global supply of oil:
The oil market remains globally oversupplied, with producers in the U.S., Saudi Arabia and elsewhere continuing to pump at full tilt. Meanwhile, seasonal demand for heating oil has ebbed due to moderate temperatures in the U.S. and Europe, keeping inventories of refined products higher than normal.
The latest declines come just days before the Federal Reserve is expected to raise interest rates for the first time in nearly a decade, a move some market watchers say could stoke volatility across financial markets. The persistent plunge in oil prices, which has been spurred by excess global supplies, continues to be a drag on inflation, which raises doubts about further action from the Fed.
On Monday, Brent crude tumbled to a low of $36.33 a barrel, below its close of $36.61 a barrel from December 2008. [The Wall Street Journal, 12/14/15]
Gasoline Prices Near Lowest Point Of Obama Presidency. According to the fuel market research firm GasBuddy.com, the average price of a gallon of regular, unleaded gasoline in the United States has fallen in conjunction with global crude oil prices, approaching lows not seen since President Obama's first weeks in office:
[GasBuddy.com, accessed 12/15/15]
Right-Wing Media Have A History Of Spinning Oil, Gasoline Prices To Attack President Obama
Limbaugh Claims To Have A “Dirty Little Secret” About Oil Prices. On the January 20 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show, host Rush Limbaugh told listeners what he falsely claimed was the “dirty little secret” behind low oil prices -- a struggling economy. Limbaugh claimed, “One of the leading, or primary, reasons why the price of oil is down, and gasoline, is demand. Demand is down. And the demand is down because the U.S. economy is in the tank.” The reason, why more people weren't talking about it, he asserted, is because, “You won't find very many experts acknowledge this because it contradicts the idea that the economy is roaring back.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 1/20/15]
MSNBC'S Rachel Maddow Unmasks Fox News' Flip-Flop On Gasoline Prices. On the October 29, 2014 edition of MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show, host Rachel Maddow reported on gasoline prices falling to a four-year low. Maddow highlighted a scoop from Media Matters showing that Fox has “bent over backwards to blame President Obama anytime gas prices go up,” only to confusingly question whether or not low gas prices might actually be bad for the economy. Surprisingly, this was not the first time Fox tried to portray decreasing gas prices as a bad thing. In May 2012, Fox Business personalities Melissa Francis and Stuart Varney suggested that lower gas prices were “a sign of a weakening economy.” [Media Matters, 5/9/12; MSNBC, The Rachel Maddow Show, 10/29/14]
Fox's Stuart Varney Uses Turmoil In Iraq To Blame Obama For Rising Gasoline Prices. On the June 13, 2014 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade and Fox Business host Stuart Varney discussed the impact of turmoil in Iraq on the global oil market. Varney used the opportunity to attack President Obama for the withdrawal of American combat troops from Iraq from 2009 through 2011, stating, “Let me make this very clear, we are all paying for the president's policy mistakes. The retreat in Iraq, the chaos in Iraq, will be paid for by us at the pump.” [Media Matters, 6/13/14]
2012 Was A Year Of Gasoline Price Fibs On Fox. In 2012, like most years, average U.S. gasoline prices fluctuated according to global market conditions, seasonal changes in demand, and other contributing factors. At the beginning of the year, as gas prices rose, Fox launched a relentless campaign to falsely blame President Obama's energy and environmental policies for the price spike. In May, as gas prices began to fall, Fox questioned if low gas prices might actually be a bad thing and “a sign of a looming global economic crisis.” One Fox News analyst even expressed hope that gasoline prices would “stay close to five dollars in November” because increased pressure on American consumers might help Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney win the 2012 election. [Media Matters, 12/29/12]
Economists Bash Fox's “Ridiculous” Gasoline Price Fable. In October 2012, Fox News criticized President Obama's accurate statement during the second Presidential debate that gasoline prices only appeared to have doubled during his presidency because they plummeted in the weeks before his inauguration due to the broader economic downturn he inherited from the Bush administration. Fox had advised Republican nominee Mitt Romney to misleadingly claim that Obama's policies were responsible for the price increase, but economists and gasoline market experts refuted those claims. In fact, a FoxNews.com report blaming Obama for price increases cited two experts who did not pin blame for higher gas prices on Obama, and one stated “President Obama was right” about the recession, not his policies, lowering gasoline demand. [Media Matters, 10/17/12; 10/22/12; 10/23/12]
Fox Blames Obama Administration For Increasing Gas Prices In 2012. On March 5, 2012 Media Matters published two video compilations revealing how Fox's coverage of the gasoline market changed during the Bush and Obama administrations. In 2008, during President Bush's final year in office, Fox News hosts and guests claimed that spikes in gas prices were the result of marketplace factors, not the fault of the White House. In 2012, as President Obama began his re-election campaign, Fox News' coverage changed dramatically as the network increasingly blamed Obama's economic, energy, and environmental policy decisions for high gas prices. [Media Matters, 3/5/12]
Fox Blamed Obama For Change In Gas Prices From 2009 Through 2012. In February 2012, Fox falsely suggested that Obama's energy policies were to blame for the recent increase in gasoline prices, without explaining that prices were low in January 2009 because the recession slashed American consumer demand. On the February 16, 2012 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy claimed gas prices offered an “opportunity to disrupt” the positive economic narrative coming from the Obama administration. On the same broadcast, guest-host Juliet Huddy asked if rising prices were “enough to derail [Obama's] return to the office.” Fox contributor Eric Bolling replied, “Well it better be. What else matters?” Fox also repeatedly aired variations of the following graphic:
[Media Matters, 2/16/12]