Colonial Pipeline, owner of a major fuel pipeline system on the U.S. East Coast, announced on Saturday that it had “proactively” shut down all pipeline operations in response to a ransomware attack. The FBI believes an Eastern European group called DarkSide, potentially operating out of Russia, is responsible for the ransomware attack.
With many details still unknown, Fox News has pushed one decisive talking point: The U.S. needs more pipelines, such as the canceled Keystone XL pipeline, on top of the over 224,000 miles of oil pipelines and over 1.6 million miles of gas pipelines which already exist.
On Tuesday, Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy told Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), “Of course Joe Biden turned off the Keystone pipeline, one of the first things he did. He would never admit we need more pipelines, but this probably shows that we absolutely do.” Also referencing the canceled pipeline, former Energy Secretary Rick Perry told Fox host Sean Hannity that “maybe we should build more pipelines instead of shutting them down.”
Mike Pompeo, former secretary of state and one of Fox’s newest contributors, said the attack “only highlights the need for more infrastructure capacity” for petroleum products, to avoid the current situation of “a single structure, a single pipeline that America is so reliant on” being taken offline with “one small attack.”
Fox figures also leapt at the chance to complain that President Joe Biden isn’t doing anything in response. Doocy rhetorically asked, “How is it that they can reach from perhaps Russia into our internet and do what they did? You would think that our federal government would have a way to stop that. I'm sure they do. Why don’t they?” Tucker Carlson, the face of Fox News, incoherently claimed that “the White House approves of this disaster” because “soon enough, the lunatics plan to close all” gas stations to “magically replace the gasoline engines that we have used for more than 100 years.” Carlson, with a guest, later suggested that the pipeline attack complemented the goals of the Green New Deal, which seeks to “cripple the country” and degrade “civilization.”
On May 10, Sean Hannity predicted that Biden “will do absolutely nothing” in response to the attack, even though by that point Biden had publicly discussed it, said he’d been getting daily briefings, and his White House had said it is helping Colonial Pipeline with a “whole of government” response led by the Department of Energy. Hours before Hannity's show, Bloomberg reported that the initial “intervention involved the White House, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and National Security Agency, and shut off key servers used by the hackers,” allowing Colonial to recover some stolen data.
At least one Fox host found a way to blame the ransomware attack on federal spending. Fox Business host Kennedy, appearing on the Fox News show Outnumbered, complained that the government has “absolutely no flexibility” to respond to crises like this because we “keep spending trillions and trillions and trillions of dollars on every other program. … The fact that we’re spending so much money making government so much bigger actually makes us less safe.”
A handful of Fox figures are even ready for war. Fox anchor and former White House press secretary Dana Perino compared the ransomware attack to 9/11, saying that just as young people signed up for the military after 9/11, the government now needs young people good at “defense hacking” because “this is the kind of warfront and war footing we’re going to have to be on” to protect energy supplies. Perino repeated her point on the “opinion” show The Five, suggesting that the pipeline attack highlighted the “next stage in the war on terror.”
Going even further, gadfly Fox contributor Newt Gingrich demanded new laws requiring the death penalty for “this kind of hacking,” including authorizing the president “through a judicial process” to order overseas assassinations. Gingrich continued, “I don’t care if they’re private criminals or they’re public criminals, it’s an act of war against the United States. ... We need to react to it as an act of war.”
Like Gingrich, Greg Gutfeld, co-host of The Five and host of the “comedy” show Gutfeld!, agreed that the ransomware was “absolutely … terrorism and an act of war.” Gutfeld said those responsible for the attack should “immediately ... be tracked down and they should be executed,” to the awkward chuckles of several co-hosts, going on to joke that “it’s basically like 1976 but we have the internet. … I thought we got out of this, but whenever you get a Democrat back in power, you get all the problems that come with not understanding human nature.” (Gerald Ford, a Republican, was president in 1976.)