Advancing a highly misleading talking point from ExxonMobil, Fox's “straight news” program Happening Now defended the oil giant on Friday from Obama's call to end tax subsidies for oil companies.
Fox Business reporter Elizabeth MacDonald said she “just got off the phone with ExxonMobil” -- and it showed. She clearly didn't bother to fact check what they told her.
MacDonald said that ExxonMobil's “U.S. tax bill came in at $12 billion bucks -- that was more than the $9 billion bucks they earned in after tax profits.” This is straight from the talking points ExxonMobil distributes when getting heat from the fact that its rising profits require drivers' pain.
Taxes greater than their profits? Pretty compelling if true. But in fact, ExxonMobil's “tax bill” includes at least $5.6 billion collected from consumers in federal and state gasoline taxes. Drivers pay the tax, but Exxon counts those dollars as part of its own tax burden. They've been doing this for years and are apparently still able to fool some reporters.
Lou Dobbs repeated the false claim on his Fox Business show, adding: “More money is being paid in taxes by these major oil companies than they're making in profits. Why is this administration do you think -- is it reasonable for them to be attacking these oil companies, given that?”
When his guest Michael Graetz, a tax law expert questioned the claim, Dobbs said: “We didn't make these numbers up. So I mean, that is the reality” :
MICHAEL GRAETZ, AUTHOR, “END OF ENERGY” : Well, I haven't seen their profit numbers. I'd be shocked if they're paying more in taxes than they're making in profits.
DOBBS: Take my word for it as we just reported. We didn't make these numbers up. So I mean, that's the reality.