NewsBusters is suspiciously eager to blame President Obama for the massive oil spill off Louisiana -- as opposed to, say, the oil company that operated the drilling rig that exploded.
In an April 30 post, Noel Sheppard repeated a claim by right-wing radio host Mark Levin that "it took the Obama administration eight days to do anything about this oil spill," adding, "why AREN'T so-called journalists asking WHY it took the Obama administration so long to respond to this environmental crisis?"
But Sheppard and Levin are lying. In fact, not only did federal officials, led by the Coast Guard, take a leading role in the initial emergency response to the explosion, as early as April 23 the Coast Guard was "focused on mitigating the impact of the product currently in the water." Complicating things was the fact that BP, the oil company that operated the rig, underplayed the extent of the spill -- due to "a self-policing system that trusted a commercial operator to take care of its own mishap even as it grew into a menace imperiling Gulf Coast nature and livelihoods from Florida to Texas" -- leading to an initial limited response to it by the government. Once the extent of the spill was clear, the feds moved in with full force.
Nevertheless, Sheppard -- eager to portray this as "Obama's Katrina" -- highlighted a New York Times editorial that was, in Sheppard's words, "pointing a finger straight at Barack Obama." Sheppard overlook the fact that the editorial also stated that BP "seems to have been slow to ask for help." That suggests to us that if the Obama administration had moved swiftly and taken control of the cleanup operation from BP early on, Sheppard would be portraying it as a socialist takeover of the oil company.
Sheppard went on to whine that Obama's weekly media address was about something other than the spill: "Wow! Our nation is facing possibly its worst oil-related disaster in history, and our President is concerned about campaign finances." Sheppard later sneered, 'Obama is currently speaking at a commencement address to the University of Michigan. Is that also more important than dealing with this crisis?"
In none of these posts does Sheppard address the culpability of BP in the spill.
Meanwhile, Rich Noyes also repeated the Times editorial, adding that "The last time a major disaster threatened the U.S. Gulf Coast, journalists dropped any pretense of objectivity and openly scorned what they saw as the ineffective response of the Bush administration to Hurricane Katrina." Noyes ignores that, unlike the oil spill, the impact of Katrina was immediately clear, and there wasn't an oil company trying to hid the full extent of the disaster from the government, hindering a full federal response.