In the lead-up to and aftermath of President Joe Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia, which was the last stop on his first presidential tour of the Middle East, Fox News hosts and guests leveled fierce criticism at the administration. However, most of this criticism amounted to tired retreads of false narratives about the Biden administration’s energy policy, specifically around the myths of American energy independence and Biden’s alleged war on the fossil fuel industry.
Fox chose to ignore the real problem with the Biden administration’s trip to Saudi Arabia: The world’s continued and deepened reliance on fossil fuels will drive increasingly frequent and devastating climate-fueled weather events. Instead, the network used the administration’s outreach to Saudi Arabia to continue pushing a hodgepodge of simplistic and harmful attacks that further its ongoing war on climate action and the Biden administration.
Fox News’ coverage of Biden’s Saudi trip provided more evidence of its complete obsequiousness to the fossil fuel industry
Recently, Fox News has pushed a series of unrelenting stories that blame the current energy crisis solely on the Biden administration and absolve the fossil fuel industry from any wrongdoing, despite its anti-consumer practice and record profits. This latest coverage focused on Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia, ostensibly to ask Saudi leaders to increase oil production, and featured Fox personalities and guests repeatedly claiming that the Biden administration would rather purchase oil from foreign dictators and falsely claiming that it is deliberately undermining domestic oil producers.
The criticism started ahead of the trip. For example, during the July 13 episode of Fox and Friends, host Steve Doocy accused Biden of begging the Saudis for more oil instead of “embracing oil and fossil fuels in this country” because “they've got a green agenda and they don't want to hack off their environmental left by punching more holes in the ground.“ On July 14, Katie Pavlich, one of the hosts of The Five, stated, “Instead of ramping up domestic energy production to combat sky high prices here, Biden left with no choice but to beg Saudi dictators for more oil.”
On July 15, the day of Biden’s Saudi visit, America Reports aired a segment that featured correspondent Lauren Simonetti, who was reporting live from an oil production facility in West Texas. She sought to capture and convey the alleged frustrations of oil executives, who claimed that they have been “demonized” by the administration and that American fossil fuels are cleaner than those of foreign sources. In particular, the idea that regulations mean American oil is produced “in a much more environmentally responsible way,” as one of the oil executives argued, is belied by the fact that those regulations have not prevented major leaks and spills from occurring year after year. This statement also exposed the hypocrisy of an industry that actively attempts to weaken or eliminate regulations that govern its ability to pollute the air, water, and land of local communities.
Later on July 15, Washington Post columnist, fossil fuel shill, and Fox News contributor Marc Thiessen appeared on The Faulkner Focus and attacked Biden for his trip to Saudi Arabia and claimed that he was deliberately harming the domestic energy industry. He asserted, “Biden … has come into office with a climate agenda designed to drive down domestic production and then he is going to Saudi Arabia and asking them to increase production.”
The attacks on Biden and defenses of Big Oil continued over the weekend. During the July 16 episode of One Nation with Brian Kilmeade, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley stated, “It's unbelievable to me that he's going to Saudi to beg for oil when he should be begging our energy producers for forgiveness. We shouldn't go to another country to depend on anything.” And on the July 17 episode of Fox and Friends Sunday, hosts Pete Hegseth and Will Cain accused Biden of not encouraging expanded fossil fuel production during his visits to top oil-producing states.
Fox host Sean Hannity continued the drumbeat last night. During the July 18 episode of Hannity, he stated, “Per usual, Joe, well, he failed to deliver. He never got a commitment from Saudi Arabia. He's been begging the OPEC, begging the Saudis to produce more oil, which is dumb in and of itself because we have more energy here — gas, oil, coal — that could provide for our needs and so many other countries’ needs for hundreds of years.”
The truth Fox News won’t tell its viewers
The disconnect between what Fox hosts and guests say on-air about the Biden administration’s energy policies and the reality of the administration’s actions is cavernous. That’s because Fox News refuses to admit that far from waging a war on fossil fuels, the Biden administration has pivoted away from aggressive actions to reduce carbon emissions and toward the fossil fuel industry’s demands for a regulatory environment that favors increased production of oil and gas. And, if other countries echo the United States’ actions, then the world could lock in its ongoing dependency on fossil fuels for years to come.
That was one of the main problems with Biden’s ill-advised trip to Saudi Arabia. By asking an authoritarian regime — credibly accused of war crimes — to increase oil production, instead of jump–starting a stalled climate agenda at home and pushing for a material transition away from fossil fuels, the Biden administration signaled that it is willing to cement our reliance on fossil fuels, which poses a direct and immediate threat to global humanity. (Recent reporting speculates that the Biden administration may declare a climate emergency later this week.)
But Fox is far less interested in how climate change and environmental degradation will affect its viewers than it is in carrying water for the fossil fuel industry. The network is a key cog in the fossil fuel industry’s disinformation network. As such, like the politicians beholden to the industry, the network can be expected to ignore the unprecedented climate-fueled impacts such as heat waves, drought, and wildfires harming millions of people in America and abroad.
So the network will continue its unrelenting and disingenuous attacks on the Biden administration, while also steadfastly refusing to utter any criticism of the fossil fuel industry and working to undermine any and all reasonable attempts at mitigating climate change. Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia is just the latest event the network has weaponized against climate action, facts be damned.