Fox News strains to tie Obama administration to BP

Fox News pushed the tenuous suggestion that White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel has unethical “ties” to BP because he once lived in the home of Stan Greenberg, a D.C. research strategist who has done work for the oil company. In fact, there is no evidence that Emanuel's relationship with Greenberg -- which dates back several decades -- has anything to do with BP or benefited BP in any way. Moreover, Brian Kilmeade falsely claimed BP donated $750 million to Barack Obama's presidential campaign, which would have amounted to the entirety of Obama's campaign haul.

Fox News seizes on Malcolm post that alleges “ties” between Emanuel and BP

LA Times' Malcolm suggests unethical “connection” and “ties” between BP and Emanuel because of Emanuel's living arrangements. In a June 7 post on the Los Angeles Times' blog Top of the Ticket, Andrew Malcolm suggested there are “ties that bind” Emanuel and BP because Emanuel reportedly stayed rent-free for five years in Greenberg's home, and Greenberg was an “adviser” to BP. Malcolm suggested that the connection somehow amounted to an unethical relationship between BP and Obama because “BP and its folks were significant contributors” to Obama's presidential campaign, and his administration “gave BP a safety award.”

Fox & Friends says Emanuel's connection to Greenberg amounts to an “oil link” and that he is “connected” and “just two rungs removed from BP.” From the June 10 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:

STEVE DOOCY (co-host): Meanwhile, let's talk a little about this. Rahm Emanuel, the chief of staff of the White House, turns out, according to the LA Times, had a sweetheart deal where he lived in an apartment in Washington, D.C., rent-free for five years. The landlord was a fellow congresswoman, and her husband, fella by the name of Stan Greenberg. Stan Greenberg was actually a BP adviser and consultant -- and, in fact, there he is right there. He is one of the guys who kind of was trying to rebrand BP as a green petroleum company. He's behind that whole BP, “Beyond Petroleum” campaign.

ALISYN CAMEROTA (co-host): Yeah, I'm more astounded by the story anybody let somebody live in their apartment for five years rent-free. My friends would not stand for that -- me sleeping on their sofa for five years rent-free. But this is the tangled web in Washington. You know, if you're Rahm Emanuel, by that time you're very plugged in, you know lots of people, you have lots of friends, people, you know, do favors for you. So Stan Greenberg was consulting for BP. So now he is connected, you know, just two rungs removed from BP.

During the segment, on-screen text appeared that said, “The ties that bind; Rahm lived rent-free at BP client's apartment,” and, “Emanuel's oil link; landlord was Dem rep who consulted for BP.” From the program:



Fox Nation: “Rahm's Landlord.” The Fox Nation also linked to Malcolm's post with the headline, “Rahm's Landlord.”

Greenberg and Emanuel's relationship has nothing to do with BP

Emanuel and Greenberg are reportedly longstanding friends. In his autobiography, Dispatches from the War Room, Greenberg writes that the pair first “bonded working on some of my first congressional races in Michigan” in the 1980s, and at one point calls Emanuel a “friend and colleague from the Clinton campaign.” [pgs. 42 & 255]

It was Greenberg who brought Emanuel on to Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign. While describing the events leading up to the Democratic primary in 1992, Greenberg wrote that he “pushed to get Rahm, who we knew would suffer no fools when pursuing a goal, into the campaign.” [p. 42]

Emanuel performed the marriage ceremony for Greenberg's daughter. The Chicago Tribune reported that Emanuel officiated at Greenberg's daughter's wedding. It said: “Emanuel's passion and loyalty won him the allegiance of others too. Stan Greenberg's daughter Anna, a friend of Emanuel's as well as his pollster, asked him to officiate at her wedding earlier this year. Emanuel studied hard, read sacred texts and consulted a rabbi.”

Greenberg's work with BP is unrelated to lobbying

Greenberg Quinlan Rosner helped BP with “Beyond Petroleum” rebranding. There is no evidence the rebranding work Greenberg did for BP has anything to do with the Obama administration's approach to the oil spill or regulations. Greenberg is chairman and CEO of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, a “premium research and strategic consulting firm,” that does work for corporations, issue groups, and political campaigns. According to its website, the firm “helped BP plan and evaluate its successful re-branding campaign, focusing the company's branding on energy solutions, including the development of solar and other renewable energy sources.” BP's “Beyond Petroleum” rebranding campaign began after it merged with Amoco in 2000.

Greenberg Quinlan Rosner has dozens of clients -- not just BP. BP is listed as only one of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner's dozens of clients, many of which are conservative, progressive, and nonpartisan. Those clients include, for example, United HealthCare, Coca-Cola, Monsanto, the Los Angeles Times, General Motors, Verizon, former British prime minister Tony Blair, Pacific Gas and Electric, the Detroit Lions, numerous foreign heads of state, and many environmental organizations.

Kilmeade falsely claims BP gave $750 million to Obama campaign

Kilmeade: There are “problems” with BP giving "$750 million to a campaign like they did to the Obama campaign" and “Emanuel staying there with a consulting firm for BP.” During the segment, co-host Brian Kilmeade falsely claimed BP gave $750 million to Obama's presidential campaign:

KILMEADE: Sure. And when BP gives $750 million to a campaign like they did to the Obama campaign in the '07-'08 period, along with Rahm Emanuel staying there with a consulting firm for BP, you wonder if somehow there might be some problems.

DOOCY: Well, clearly this is a big story, Brian. So I would imagine the mainstream media is going to have this all over the front pages.

Contributions came almost entirely from BP employees -- not BP itself -- and totaled about $70,000, not $750 million

CRP: Money donated to Obama in 2008 election was entirely from BP employees, not the corporation; employees donated about $70,000 -- not $750 million. Contrary to Kilmeade's claim, $750 million is reportedly the amount Obama raised overall during the 2008 campaign, not what he received from BP. Moreover, the BP-linked donations came exclusively from BP employees -- not the corporation itself. In an email exchange with Media Matters for America, a spokesman for the Center for Responsive Politics confirmed that “the $71,051 that Obama received during the 2008 election cycle was entirely from BP employees. ... Obama did not accept contributions from political action committees, so none of this money is from BP's PAC.”

CRP data shows BP's PAC contributed $1,000 to Obama's Senate campaign in 2004. According to the Center for Responsive Politics' database, BP's political action committee has made one contribution to an Obama campaign -- $1,000 in 2004, when Obama was running for U.S. Senate in Illinois. CRP reports that Obama received a total of $6,000 in contributions from BP's PAC and BP employees prior to 2008.

Donations from BP or its employees represents just .01 percent of Obama's total fundraising. As Media Matters senior fellow Jamison Foser has noted, Obama has raised more than $799 million for his federal election campaigns. The $77,051 he has received from BP's PAC and employees accounts for less than .01 percent of Obama's total campaign contributions.

Scherer: “People who run for President raise much more money, and received much more money from BP interests -- and just about every other interest.” In a May 5 Swampland post, Time's Michael Scherer cited CRP's data and noted that "[i]t is true that ... Obama received slightly more money from BP's PAC and employees since 1990 than anyone else." Scherer went on to explain:

But there is a major a reason for that, which the story fails to mention: People who run for President raise much more money, and received much more money from BP interests -- and just about every other interest. The fourth highest recipient of BP money in the same time period is George W. Bush. The fifth highest recipient is John McCain. In the 2000 and 2004 cycles, Bush got the most money, albeit less than Obama received in 2008. But then one could adjust these numbers for campaign inflation: campaigns overall raised much less money in the 2000 and 2004 cycles than the record-smashing 2008 cycle.