The success of Tesla Motors complicates Fox News' narrative about green energy investments, but the network has a strategy: simply ignore the fact that the company received a federal loan.
Tesla, a leading electric automaker, received a $465 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy's Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) program in 2010. The company has since become a fixture in car magazines and one of the most conspicuous successes of the Obama administration's green energy policies, recently announcing that it intends to pay back the loan five years ahead of schedule and reporting its first quarterly profits. On the heels of the latter news came word that the notably tough reviewers at Consumer Reports had given the Tesla Model S sedan a 99 out of 100 rating, proclaiming “we've never seen anything quite like the Model S. This car performs better than anything we've ever tested before.”
On Friday, Fox News reported the quarter one profits -- “encouraging” -- and the positive review, pronouncing the automaker a “huge success.”
One major problem: somehow, Fox News neglected to mention the federal loan guarantee program that helped Tesla obtain vital capital to develop the Model S. By contrast, Fox News has repeatedly used a negative Consumer Reports review of Fisker's hybrid electric Karma sedan as a hook to attack the Obama administration's green loans, without mentioning successes like Tesla or the money that Congress set aside to cover losses, knowing that not every company would succeed.
Fox News has a complicated history with Tesla. In 2012, the network declared the company “failed,” feeding then-presidential nominee Mitt Romney's narrative that President Obama doesn't “just pick the winners and losers, [he] pick[s] the losers” by lumping the company in with Solyndra and Fisker. But in recent months, figures on Fox News and Fox Business have acknowledged that Tesla is a “winner.” By late April, Tesla's ascendance was clear and Fox News completed its about-face, briefly claiming that the company “did not get a government loan,” before being corrected by a car industry reporter.