Topic: Media Research Center
We've documented how the Media Research Center began slaving away after the Russian invasion of Ukraine on pushing the narrative that President Biden, and only him, is responsible for high gas prices. That narrative building continued throughout March. Clay Waters whined in a March 12 post:
One Wednesday, the New York Times ran a biased story by official fact-checker Linda Qiu in defense of President Biden and high gas prices: “Invasion and Pandemic, Not Policies, Are Driving Up Gas Prices.” The online headline was more partisan: “Republicans Wrongly Blame Biden for Rising Gas Prices.”
As with his other MRC co-workers, Waters offered no evidence that the Times was wrong, instead playing whataboutism: "However much control a president actually has over the price at the pump, the Times’ defensive attempt to circle the wagons for Biden against Republican criticism was nothing like the gas attacks it ran against Republican President George W. Bush."
A March 17 post by Jeffrey Clark cited only biased right-wing activists to counter the Washingotn Post disporving theidea that Biden is responsible for high gas p[rices:
The Washington Post’s editor and chief writer of “The Fact Checker” Glenn Kessler pushed misinformation about President Joe Biden’s responsibility for sky-high energy prices in the U.S..
Kessler absurdly claimed in a March 15 article that there is “little evidence that Biden’s policies have had any direct impact on oil production.” Is that so, Washington Post?
American Enterprise Institute resident scholar Benjamin Zycher pointed out that the administration’s war against fossil fuels contributed to reduced output, lifting prices. “[A]n expectation that future investment will be constrained artificially has the effect of raising prices today. Why might the market expect such constraints on future investment? Look no further than the Biden administration’s policies for the answer. The ‘net-zero’ crusade against fossil fuels is an obvious attempt to force a sharp decline in current and future production,” Zycher noted. [Emphasis added.]
Zycher clearly illustrated the “direct impact” — as Kessler put it — of the Biden administration’s policies, completely upending Kessler’s argument.
Despite his claim, Vazquez did not quote Zycher actually providing evidence of a "direct" link between a specific Biden policy and higher gas prices.
The same day, the MRC touted its boss trying to advance the narrative:
Appearing on Fox Business Network’s Varney & Co. Thursday morning, Media Research Center President Brent Bozell previewed an upcoming MRC study showing that the leftist media are trying to blame everyone and anything else for high gas prices except the “incompetent” energy policies of President Biden. Bozell went on to call out the environmental “zealotry” within the administration.
“Look at this tweet, it’s from President Biden, he’s blaming high gas prices on Putin and also the oil companies,” host Stuart Varney noted at the top of the segment. He then turned to Bozell and wondered: “Brent, is the media buying the President’s story that it’s the oil companies and price gouging and Putin that’s screwing around with gas prices?”
Varney called out those who were actually responsible for surging fuel costs:
You have to say that John Kerry, the climate czar, a couple of senators, AOC, the Greens essentially, the global warmers, the global climate warriors, these are the people who are really responsible for the rising price of gas because they cut production of fossil fuels. It’s their fault to some degree – a large degree.
Bozell replied: “Stuart, top to bottom, this administration is being run by incompetent zealots. Their incompetency is everywhere to see, but there zealotry is one that doesn’t recognize their incompetency.”
Neither Bozell nor Varney offered any evidence to back up the claim.
In another March 17 post, Kevin Tober cheered Fox News for pushing the narrative: "On Thursday afternoon’s episode of Fox News Channel’s The Five, co-hosts Judge Jeanine Pirro and Greg Gutfeld ripped into the leftist media for parroting the Biden administration’s propaganda which falsely blames Russian President Vladimir Putin for the increase in gas prices. Despite the fact that gas prices have risen every month since Biden took office."
The next day, Bill D'Agostino served up a clip package:
Bad news for anyone still holding out hope that the media will eventually start blaming Biden for record-breaking gas prices and inflation: it’s not going to happen.
For months the media’s talking points on skyrocketing energy costs have been in lockstep with the Biden administration’s own blame-shifting, and that trend doesn’t show any signs of letting up.
He offered no evidence to show that it was accurate to solely blame Biden.
On March 24, Scott Whitlock served up the inevitable lame MRC "study":
Americans over the last month have been enduring painful, skyrocketing gas prices. The impacts are echoing out to all parts of the economy and squeezing already stressed wallets. But if you watched the morning and evening network newscasts, you would think almost all the blame for this falls on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Joe Biden? His role has almost entirely been ignored.
From February 24 to March 21, the networks put the culpability squarely on Russia by a 11-to-1 margin. ABC, CBS and NBC blamed Russia a whopping 33 times and the Democratic president just 3 times. (The breakdown by network: NBC blamed Russia 16 times, CBS 11 times and ABC 6 times.)
Whitlock rehashed earlier Biden rhetoric and actions but offered no proof that they constitute evidence that Biden is solely to blame for high gas prices:
As a presidential candidate, Biden promised to “get rid of fossil fuels” and pledged “no more coal plants.” On the first day of Biden’s presidency, he killed the Keystone Pipeline. In the last 14 months, the three network evening newscasts have allowed a scant 29 seconds to the move (16 seconds on NBC, 10 on CBS and just 3 on ABC)
Biden also paused oil and gas leasing on federal lands. In May of 2021, he removed sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to bring gas from Russia to Germany a major win for Vladimir Putin.
Whitlock didn't explain what, if anything, the Nord Stream pipeline -- which isn't even in the United States -- had to do with high gas prices here.Whilock then concluded with a fit of Trump-fluffing:
In November of 2020, the Media Research Center conducted a poll about the 2020 election and what Americans actually learned from the media. As then-Research Director Rich Noyes noted, “More than half (50.5%) of Biden voters said they did not know about [Trump moving to make us energy independent]. If the information was known by all, 5.8% of Biden’s voters say they would have changed how they voted.”
America became a net exporter of oil for the first time in September of 2019. But you wouldn’t have known that from watching ABC, CBS and NBC in the Trump years. They buried this accomplishment. And during Biden’s presidency, the networks are doing everything they can to censor his crippling energy policies.
As we've noted, that poll was conducted by The Polling Company, founded by Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway then later sold to a Republican PR firm, so the independence and reliability of the poll results are very much in question.
As actual news organization and fact-checkers continued to demonstrate that Biden was not to blame for high gas prices, the MRC continued to shout its narrative all the louder. A March 31 post by Clark screeched at a PolitiFact post disproving it by citing one energy analyst claiming that the Biden administration made a "pretty stark miscalculation of the amount of supply we would need to keep energy prices at affordable levels'" -- whcih, if true, is not a policy issue -- and, again, biased analyst Zycher. Clark also complained that PolitiFact "downplayed the effect of the Keystone XL pipeline on the U.S. oil supply" without offering any evidence to counter it.
An April 1 post by Christy complained that MSNBC's Stephanie Ruhle apperared on TV "to absolve President Biden of any blame for high gas prices" without offering any countering evidence. And Tim Graham whined on April 11:
When the network news divisions take public opinion polls, and President Biden looks terrible in them, they have a tendency to downplay them. ABC reported on their latest poll with Ipsos under the headline " Most Americans blame Vladimir Putin, oil companies for high gas prices: POLL."
They sent the same message on Twitter:
Graham made no effort to prove it wrong. Instead, he nitpicked: "The headline is, technically true -- but it's not an either-or choice. "Most" do blame Putin and oil companies - but, majorities also blame Biden (51%) and Democrat policies (52%). In terms of "a great deal of blame," the results for Dems/Biden/Oil companies are pretty much the same: Biden 33%, Dem policies 31% and oil companies 35%, and Putin at 39%."
If the headline is "technically true," there was no reason for Graham to attack it. But the narrative must be fed, and outrage must be manufactured.