Fox News' Stuart Varney portrayed a natural gas automaker as a “green energy failure,” even though he pushed the federal government to make transit agencies buy vehicles from the same company only a few months prior.
Vehicle Production Group (VPG), a Michigan-based company that makes wheelchair-accessible vans, recently ceased operations and closed its offices. The company, which had drawn attention for designing the first vehicle specifically for people with disabilities, was awarded a $50 million conditional loan commitment in 2010 to develop vans with natural gas engines as part of the Department of Energy's Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) program.
On Wednesday, Varney depicted the company as “the latest embarrassment for the [Obama administration's] green energy policy” on Fox & Friends:
But Varney did not mention that VPG received its loan under a program that President George W. Bush signed into law, or that the natural gas vehicles it was intended to subsidize are a component of T. Boone Pickens' energy plan, which Fox News personalities have previously supported. Pickens funded and advocated for VPG himself.
Moreover, in September 2012, Varney sang VPG's praises on his Fox Business show. One month prior, the company had asked the Federal Transit Administration to rescind a waiver of its “Buy America” requirement for transit agencies purchasing wheelchair-accessible vans, on the grounds that VPG was now able to meet the agency's supply needs domestically. Varney hosted then-CEO Fred Drasner, asking “why is it that somebody else who makes these vans overseas gets government money? You make these vans in the United States. Why don't you get the money?”
Varney did not mention that VPG had received federal funds during that positive segment. Similarly, during positive April coverage of Tesla Motors, a Fox News anchor tried to claim that the electric carmaker received no federal funding. This selective coverage paints a misleading picture of the ATVM program, which anticipates losses far lower than what Congress set aside for it with the knowledge that not every company would succeed.