More Fossil-Fueled Bias From CNS
As befits a "news" organization whose parent has accepted money from fossil fuel interests, CNSNews.com has repeatedly run to the defense of the oil and gas industry over federal leases and against accusations that they're profiting off of gas price hikes.
By Terry Krepel
CNSNews.com's parent, the Media Research Center, has taken money from fossil fuel interests in the past, so it's no surprise that it would rely on the industry to rebut Biden administration claims about oil and gas leases on federal land. Melanie Arter seemed annoyed in a March 4 article:
President Biden called for fighting inflation by making more goods in the United States in his State of the Union address on Tuesday, but the Biden administration doesn’t hold the same view when it comes to rising gas prices.
Three days later, Craig Bannister cranked up the spin machine to try and shut down the claim:
In an effort to distract from President Joe Biden’s anti-domestic energy policies, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki insinuated last Thursday that, because there are nine thousand unused, approved oil leases in the U.S., American oil companies are simply refusing to begin producing domestic oil from them.
Bannister went on to quote the right-wing website the National File as evidence. He followed up for a March 8 article by going straight to the oil industry's lobbying group:
On Monday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki repeated last week’s insinuation that, because there are approved oil leases going unused, the oil industry is refusing to increase U.S. production but, the American Petroleum Institute (API) says that’s a red herring designed to distract from the Biden Administration’s anti-domestic energy policies.
But Neither Bannister nor O'Scannlain explained where, exactly, in the regulatory process all those 9,000 leases are and when they can be put online.
Bannister mislead his readers by hyping that the Biden administration suspended the issuance of new leases when Biden took office but not reporting that the moratorium had since been lifted, and the Biden administration has issued more drilling permits on federal lands than Trump did. Bannister also misleadingly claimed:
The Biden Administration isn’t just refusing to grant additional leases - it has actually revoked a permit that could bring 830,000 barrels of crude oil daily to the U.S.
In fact, most of the products from Keystone XL oil would likely have been exported. But when you put serving talking points ahead of reporting facts, these kind of things happen. (The Keystone talking points are a whole different set of talking points CNS has pushed.)
Bannister went to industry lobbyists again for a March 22 article:
“How do you know what motivates company business decisions?” a coalition of 10 oil and natural gas trade associations asked President Joe Biden after Biden claimed that companies were refusing to pump more oil, in order to increase their profits.
Actually, the Dallas Federal Reserve office surveyed 139 oil and gas companies in March about trends in the industry, and one of the questions asked, "Which of the following is the primary reason that publicly traded oil producers are restraining growth despite high oil prices?" Nearly 60 percent responded, "Investor pressure to maintain capital discipline"-- i.e., investors want prices high so they can make money. Less than 10 percent cited "government regulations" as the reason.
Instead of noting that, Bannister let the lobbyists complain that "Language and facts matter." Of course, if they mattered, Bannister would have reported the full truth instead of being a stenographer for industry lobbyists.
Bannister again served as stenographer for the oil industry in order to attack Biden in a March 31 article:
After President Joe Biden delivered a speech Thursday outlining his plan to reduce gas prices, energy groups called the plan short-sighted and said Biden’s speech was a desperate attempt to shift blame away from the administration.
Bannister did not quote Sgamma identify any specific Biden policy that was directly linked to a specific increase in gas prices.
Oil profits handwaved
When exorbitant oil industry profits have been brought up, CNS went into defense mode over that too. Susan Jones grumbled in a June 6 article:
President Joe Biden and his administration continue to blame Russia's war on Ukraine for spiking gasoline prices. But some administration officials also blame oil industry profiteering.
Like Bannister, Jones failed to mention the Dallas Federal Reserve survey revealing that investors want gas prices high so they can make money. Still, Jones complained every time oil industry profits are brought up. In a June 10 article blandly headlined "Biden: ‘Every Once in a While Something You Learn Makes You Viscerally Angry’ " -- that thing was the exorbitant rates foreign shipping companies charge -- Jones later noted:
At the end of his speech, a reporter asked the president if he planned to go after Exxon’s profits.
Again, Jones didn't dispute it. Jones expanded that into a larger complaint in a June 15 article:
President Joe Biden reportedly has sent a letter to various U.S. oil and gas executives, "talking about record high profit margins, saying you need to raise your output, raise your refining capacity as well," CNBC's Brian Sullivan reported early Wednesday morning on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."
This time, though, she did give a platform to the industry to respond, stating that "Forbes magazine reporter David Blackmon asked ExxonMobil for a response to Biden's criticism and received this reply," which was largely a non-answer answer justifying the record profits because of losses early in the pandemic:
"We reported losses of more than $20 billion in 2020, and we borrowed more than $30 billion in 2019 and 2020 to support our investments in production around the world. In 2021, total taxes on the company’s income statement were $40.6 billion, an increase of $17.8 billion from 2020."
Actually,that pandemic-driven loss was driven mostly by writing down the value of $19 billion in assets, not by an actual loss of that amount of money.
Jones served up a similar complaint in a June 23 article:
President Joe Biden "wants to do everything" he can to lower gasoline prices because "he understands the importance of it," Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm told reporters at the White House on Wednesday.
This time, Jones didn't dispute the characterization.
Defending the honor of yachts
In case you were wondering who CNSNews.com's core audience really is, Jones answered it in a June 21 article in which she defended the honor of yachts and the super-rich people who buy them as job creators:
President Joe Biden made another pitch to raise taxes on corporations and wealthy Americans on Monday, telling reporters gathered on a Delaware beach: "If you're going out and buying a yacht, it doesn't help the economy a whole lot."
Talking down electric cars, however, harms a different CNS constituency: Tesla chief Elon Musk, whom it has cheered for his efforts to buy Twitter and touted his opinions on various and sundry subjects.
Jones uncritically repeated the API's narrative on refining -- which blamed "conversions to renewable fuel production" for decreases in refining capacity but then insisted that "ExxonMobil is expanding the capacity at its Beaumont, TX refinery and Valero at its Port Arthur, TX refinery for a combined total of 300,000 barrels per day" -- while ignoring the fact that U.S. refining capacity dropped more than 900,000 barrels per day just in the past two years, while worldwide refining capacity has dropped by 3.3 million barrels a day since 2020.
Jones did not give Biden or the White House an opportunity to respond to API's talking points. Then again, CNS loves shilling for the oil industry.
Jones ran to the oil industry's defense again in a June 22 article:
President Joe Biden is no fan of oil companies, and his sarcasm was on full display Tuesday, when a reporter asked the president about a letter the Chevron CEO wrote to Biden.
When Biden again referenced the 9,000 leases on public lands the oil companies are sitting on, Jones again resorted to copy-and-paste PR From API:
Biden's stock response regarding the "9,000 leases" is misleading because it suggests that oil companies can just put a straw in the ground and suck up the oil waiting below.
Nowhere in that copy-and-paste PR did the API reveal what, exactly, they are doing will all of those 9,000 oil leases besides sitting on them. Hopefully the API is sending a little money Jones' way for being such a loyal stenographer (well, copy-and-paster).
Hyping Mexico's oil industry
CNS took another oil-related shot at President Biden in a July 13 article by Craig Bannister:
The president of Mexico says that so many Americans are crossing the border into his country to save money on gas, that he’s doubling the fuel supply at gas stations near the border - and putting “over 1,000 kilometers of gas pipelines” at President Joe Biden’s disposal.
But Bannister not only ignored allegations of profiteering in the U.S.oil industry, he didn't mention the main reason why López Obrador would have the ability to boost his country's gas supply and why Mexico's gas prices are cheaper than the U.S.: Mexico's oil industry is nationalized and operated by the Mexican government, so it has more control over gas prices than the private company-driven U.S.
This was followed by a July 15 article by intern Janey Olohan serving up Fox News stenography:
“The government of Mexico, in the middle of a drug war, is taking better care of its citizens than Joe Biden is taking care of his citizens. And that is shameful,” Fox News’ Tucker Carlson stated Wednesday on “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” discussing the steadily increasing price of gas across the United States.
Olohan touted Carlson noting that "spent $2 billion in subsidies to keep gas prices lower for consumers," but she failed to note that Mexico's oil industry is state-controlled, which give it much more flexibility to do such things than Biden can -- or the profiteering allegations against U.S. oil companies.