Fox News is launching an attack on the Biden administration in response to slightly elevated gas prices. Much like they did during the spring and summer when gas prices were at record highs, the network is using debunked talking points to claim the price of the global commodity is controlled by the president, saying his climate policies and perceived assaults on the U.S. oil & gas industry are the cause of rising prices at the pump.
In reality, President Joe Biden’s policies have little to do with the upward trend in gas prices, as prices generally rise and fall with the global price of oil. OPEC+’s recent decision to cut oil production — along with numerous other disruptions to oil supply — is causing the fluctuation in U.S. gas prices.
With midterm elections less than a month away, Fox is painting Biden as chiefly responsible for rising gas prices in a ploy to hurt Democratic candidates as they head into the final weeks of campaigning.
Fox is rehashing old talking points to pin rising gas prices on the Biden administration
One of Fox’s favorite talking points is the false assumption that in order to offset rising gas prices, the U.S. needs to increase its own oil and gas production. In the immediate aftermath of OPEC+’s decision to cut oil production on October 5 (which, as noted earlier, will have a slight effect on gas prices), Fox News wasted no time in bringing on fossil fuel talking heads to make this point. On the October 5 edition of America's Newsroom, American Petroleum Institute president Mike Sommers stated, “The answer lies here at home. We have the resources here in the United States to develop right now.” Later that day on Your World with Neil Cavuto, Martin Durbin, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Global Energy Institute, stated, “We should have already been doing this, but let's get serious about our long-term energy security and making sure we’re producing more oil and natural gas right here in the United States.”
The network continued hammering this point the next day. On America’s Newsroom, Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo said, “We have the capacity to have our own production in this country.” Co-host Dana Perino followed up, saying, “Why not just let Americans drill for their own oil?”
Directly related to Fox’s plea for more oil and gas production in the U.S. is its propensity to blame the administration’s climate policies and the president’s supposed injustices against the American fossil fuel industry for increasing gas prices.
On the October 5 edition of America’s Newsroom, Wall Street Journal editorial page editor James Freeman stated bluntly that “this has a lot to do with the administration deciding they don't want to encourage U.S. energy production,” before admonishing Biden for allowing dictatorships “to decide whether we are going to have reasonable gasoline prices." A few days later, on the October 10 edition of The Faulkner Focus, Fox Business contributor Phil Flynn claimed, “Anybody in the industry will tell you that the regulations have killed investment in fossil fuels and driven up prices and that’s why you are seeing the prices go up at the pump.”
On the October 7 edition of The Faulkner Focus, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) invoked the absurd notion of energy independence while blaming Biden for high gas prices: “Ending an American pipeline, stopping leases. … America could be energy independent. Where the price of our gas would be lower, inflation would be lower. America would be stronger. We wouldn’t be dependent on anybody else.”
In addition to the “energy independence” talking point, the completely false idea that the Keystone Pipeline would alleviate high gas prices was also raised, with Steve Doocy admonishing Biden and how he “pulled the plug on the keystone pipeline” on the October 6 edition of Fox & Friends.
Examples were not just limited to Fox’s TV channel. Foxnews.com also produced content blaming Biden’s energy policies for high gas prices. An October 7 article quoted Dan Kish of the fossil-fuel backed Institute for Energy Research as saying, “Americans are taking it in the shorts because the Biden administration has basically declared war on American affordable, abundant energy,” before mentioning how gas prices have recently risen. On October 10, former Texas Governor Rick Perry wrote an op-ed titled “America’s energy chaos is Biden’s fault. As we pay at the pump, will Democrats pay in midterms?”
Gas prices have risen slightly in recent weeks, for numerous reasons
Fox’s talking points linking gas prices to U.S. oil production and climate policies are meaningless. The reality of the situation is that drilling more oil will not solve the problem of high gas prices. The U.S. already exports more oil than it imports, and prices are still rising. This is because gas prices are primarily determined by global oil prices. For The Washington Post, one energy analyst succinctly makes this point: “When it comes to insulating our economy from global oil price shocks, being a big producer means next to nothing. … There’s no magic wand for short-term price volatility.”
The same Washington Post article goes on to note that, in addition to OPEC+’s decision, gas prices are going up for a variety of other reasons: a refinery fire in the Midwest and facility maintenance on the West Coast have reduced inventories to record lows. There is also a looming European ban on Russian oil which will take effect in December.
There is also some cause for optimism on this front, as some analysts believe that rising gas prices may be short-lived.
Fox’s ultimate goal is to get fossil-fuel boosters elected in the midterms
Both the hosts and guests on Fox and Rick Perry’s op-ed mention Fox’s strategy here. They want to hammer home to viewers the idea that the Biden administration’s supposed hostility to fossil fuel production has caused slightly elevated gas prices in order to advantage Republicans in next month's election.
Other Fox shows are drawing this line as well. On the October 6 edition of Fox News @ Night, correspondent Kevin Corke stated, “After nearly 100 days of declining prices at the pump, the administration now finds itself facing a real dilemma — they can dramatically shift energy policy right here at home or face the wrath of voters just a few weeks from now as the midterms loom.” Immediately following this was a segment on gas prices in California. On the October 7 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Will Cain mentioned rising gas prices as part of a “horrible combination” of factors that will lead to “a real bad cocktail for success in a midterm election.” More recently on the October 11 edition of America Reports, Fox anchor Bret Baier cited the CEO of FedEx saying that former President Barack Obama’s approval rating was directly tied to gas prices. Baier continued: “It's going to happen here in the final days of this election, and how much it makes a difference is really going to be crucial.”
Again: gas prices are tied to global markets, and a president’s domestic energy policies have little to no effect on gas prices. Additionally, the fossil fuel industry is not in fact suffering under the Biden administration (though the industry is being perceived less and less favorably by the public), and climate action is a popular issue among midterm voters. Finally, a recent Politico piece also noted that current gas prices “don’t appear to be causing the sort of widespread voter outrage seen earlier in the summer.”
These facts have not deterred Fox from weaponizing gas prices. The network is trying desperately to promote fossil fuel production as the antidote to high gas prices. In reality, the only way to truly insulate ourselves from the fluctuations of the global oil market is to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and switch to clean energy. Only with a Republican majority in Congress can the fossil fuel industry enjoy the same level of support they had under Trump. Fox’s current gas price fixation is plainly devised to ensure this majority materializes.