Are Gas Prices The President's Fault? Fox News Contradicts Itself Playing The Blame Game

With gas prices steadily rising over the last few months and the U.S. facing an election year, the topic has once again become highly politicized.

Republicans have been eager to attack the Obama administration, citing government “over regulation” and the president’s alleged disdain for free market policies as a major reason for continued sluggish economic growth and high gas prices.

Some, notably GOP candidate for nomination and former House speaker Newt Gingrich, have even talked about a plan to “fix” gasoline at $2.50 per gallon to help ease the burden for average Americans.

The message says, if elected, Gingrich would boost domestic oil production, by opening up off shore drilling, building the Keystone pipeline and reducing red tape.

Not surprisingly its been a hot topic on Fox News, which has also been harping about the fact that gas was at $1.79/$1.83/$1.84 (etc.) per gallon when Obama was elected and has many from the right now trying to figure out why the president is to blame for the rise in prices.

According to this recent reporting, it’s almost as if elected politicians have some amazing ability to control worldwide demand for oil.

If Fox can’t seem to make its mind up exactly what the price of gas was when Obama was sworn in and appears to support such political gas price “influencing” measures, it stands to reason the network has little chance of fostering any credible arguments regarding the current situation with gas prices.

Contrast this with 2008, when gas prices were around $4 per gallon and you get a rather different message, dare we say credible reporting from Fox in some cases, as this medley compiled by Media Matters, and noted by TreeHugger illustrates:

The message Fox has on again/off again observed is overwhelmingly clear: no president has the power to influence gas prices in light of a complex geopolitical climate and myriad other market forces affecting supply and demand. One thing that can be done to influence the price of gas is for the population to collectively make an effort to use less fuel. And isn’t that what current government policy (at least in theory) is trying to do?


  • James Davis

    Faux News is the whore of Babylon. Bush said that he could not do anything about the rising gas prices his two wars and his hate for the Muslim nations caused, yet Faux News, who thinks Obama is a Muslim, thinks he can fix the gas prices, and Gingrich, who is a part of that whore of Babylon can do no more than his demigod Bush did.

    Electric cars will bring those gas prices to a dead standstill and that is why those oil sucking, gas guzzlers, and anti-everything republicans are trying to kill the electric car again.

  • Jeff

    James,

    I feel the same way you do but we should try to avoid using the same antagonistic language that the conservative right has been using for the past 4 years.

  • janni

    Not a word was said about Peak Oil in this acticle or the videos. We are already at the top. No matter how hard we try, we will NEVER be able to increase the production in the future:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peak_oil

    The real reason for the economic crash in 2008 was high energy prices. It’s happening again now. We have to use less. One solution is electric cars…

  • Jim Jones

    Fox news lies !

  • Ladson Geddings

    Come on people. Haven’t you figured out Fox News by now? Their agenda is funded by he top 1% of the rich people in the U.S., including those who run Big Oil. The agenda is to reduce the U.S. to two classes: The Rich and the Peons…no middle-class.

    All the issues currently in play come down to that main agenda. Electric cars, middle-class education, the economy….are attacked by Fox in an effort to create negative public opinion toward the opposition of their agenda.

    It amazes me that people buy into this crap and keep voting for the right wing party Republican candidates. In effect they are voting against their own well-being, dumb, really dumb!

  • Capt. Concernicus

    I agree with all posters on here. Fox News has the worst news reporting that I have come across.

  • CharlesF

    Fox News starts with a lie just in its name. It then continues to lie about the cause of most of our problems. Personally I walk out of any business that has Fox News on their TVs. I know it does not do any real good, but I still feel better.

    How has the GOP convinced people that gays are the cause of social evil? How can anybody vote for a GOP candidate that even questions Obama’s birth certificate? Just a bunch of Koch crap.

  • Hayes

    Pathetic, hybridcars on here doing Obama’s bidding just like every other media outlet. When Bush was president all you heard heard was that it was his fault, but now Obama doesn’t get any blame from all the tree hugging hypocrites. I have to laugh at all the people talking bad about Fox News as they probably sit back and watch the journalistic integrity of Chris Matthews and Rachel Maddow. Completely laughable. Obama and his energy secretary have both dreamed of the days of $6 to $8 gasoline, anybody who is honest with themselves knows that Obama and his administration want to force $40000 electric cars into the mainstream.

  • Jeff Cobb

    @Hayes. You have no idea who I am as the editor for HybridCars.com, or what my actual journalistic mindset is. But then, a quick anonymous retort is free and easy, isn’t it, and no one has a chance to fact check you, right? Wrong. You want to talk about journalistic integrity, suggesting we model on people you consider intellectually dishonest? I know you are incorrect on those baseless, contempt-filled, and off-topic attempts to smear.

    For the record, we do not hold up Obama as a patron saint, but report facts where we see them. The duplicity by Fox on the contention that a president can control gas prices has been shown. And actually, Media Matters is the one that put together the real documentation. The record speaks for itself.

    Green cars have an inherent reason for being – beyond any one party or person getting into or staying in office. The world’s dominant energy resources are finite, and I believe the actual reason for the push toward sustainable energy is to find answers for human civilization before it’s too late. We report these issues, and do not always say flattering things about the yet-small green car market. But it is happening based on need, not power-based agendas, though certainly they have muddied the waters.

  • Thomas Tauker

    @Hayes

    You are the perfect example of a fox news watcher. I bet you also listen to Rush Limbaugh on the radio everyday?

    All Bush did was blame Clinton for everything!

  • Old Grumpy

    Jeff: You really need to stick to reporting on Hybrid cars and stay out of politics!! If Obama was a leader he would call all the C.E.O’s of the big oil companies into the White House and give them a ultimatum either the price of gas goes down or their subsidies go by by. Why do they have to make more Profit than several countries have? This is a matter of national security! Or go talk to the shieks in Saudie Arabia and convince them to increase productivity. He is the one that stopped the keystone pipeline! He dictates policy on the off shore permits. He is the one that can tap the oil reserve. And if you get your facts from Media Matters ( Owned and operated by George Soros) you are not getting a very unbiased report. If you do not hold up Obama as a patron saint this report sure looks like you might hold him up as the Savior of the green car industry! Report on Cars and leave the left wing biased reporting to the N.Y. Times!! Remember B.O. stinks! Ask all the people out of work!!

  • Pablo

    So what? All prices went up.
    Why nobody is mentioning the food and the rent prices?
    Why nobody was crying during the last 10 years when the prices of the houses doubled and tripled and quadrupled?
    Nobody is talking of the weak $ either.

    In the root is he trade deficit that originates from importing and burning too much oil. Now when the cars got more efficient at least part of the burning was replaced by exporting petrol products, so the trade deficit is decreasing. Thank you Obama!

  • Capt. Concernicus

    @ Jeff Cobb,

    +1

    @ Old Grumpy & Hayes,

    You two really need to get your facts straight. The CEO’s of the U.S. oil companies have little say as to what oil prices are. Their companies produce a fraction of the world’s oil.

    U.S. report: Oil imports down, domestic production highest since 2003:

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/sns-la-pn-report-us-oil-imports-down-domestic-production-highest-since-2003-20120311,0,7880203.story?track=rss

    “According to the study, the United States reduced net imports of crude oil last year by 10%, or 1 million barrels a day. America now imports 45% of its petroleum, down from 57% in 2008, and is on track to meet Obama’s long-term goal, the administration maintains.

    Imports have fallen, in part, because the United States has increased domestic oil and gas production in recent years.

    U.S. crude oil production increased by an estimated 120,000 barrels a day last year over 2010, the report says. Current production, about 5.6 million barrels a day, is the highest since 2003.

    America has been the world’s largest producer of natural gas since 2009. Use of renewable sources of energy, such as wind and solar, is still relatively small but has doubled since 2008.

    “Sometimes prices increase as American drilling ramps up. That’s what has happened in the past three years. Since February 2009, U.S. oil production has increased 15 percent when seasonally adjusted. Prices in those three years went from $2.07 per gallon to $3.58. It was a case of drilling more and paying much more.

    U.S. oil production is back to the same level it was in March 2003, when gas cost $2.10 per gallon when adjusted for inflation. But that’s not what prices are now.

    That’s because oil is a global commodity and U.S. production has only a tiny influence on supply. Factors far beyond the control of a nation or a president dictate the price of gasoline.

    When you put the inflation-adjusted price of gas on the same chart as U.S. oil production since 1976, the numbers sometimes go in the same direction, sometimes in opposite directions. If drilling for more oil meant lower prices, the lines on the chart would consistently go in opposite directions. A basic statistical measure of correlation found no link between the two, and outside statistical experts confirmed those calculations.

    Supporters of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline say it would bring 25 million barrels of oil to the United States a month. That’s the same increase in U.S. production that occurred between February and November last year. Monthly gas prices went up a dime a gallon in that time.”

    I guess Obama is working hard at shutting down domestic production…oh wait “increase in production” equals good right? Now explain to me how this increase in production hasn’t curbed prices at the pump? Oh that’s right. You can’t.

  • AP

    Jeff, if you’re really the editor of hybridcars.com, you need to learn a lot about professionalism.

    In my entire life, I’ve never seen anyone write something as condescending toward a reader of their website:

    ” You have no idea who I am ” Really? Get a clue!

    I’m not too surprised when some of the usual posters get personal and over the top, but the editor?

    Before criticizing another media outlet, look at yourself.

  • AP

    Incidentally, if we say

    - “What the President can do is so small that he can’t affect fuel prices, so he doesn’t matter.”

    then we should also say

    - “However much we try to reduce CO2 emissions in the US, it doesn’t matter because China is belching out more CO2 every day.”

    Do we use this argument only when it suits us?

  • Jeff Cobb

    @AP – Thanks for reading.

    I think I stayed on topic, and within the restraints of reason, and did not cross a line into personal counter-attack. If you were nonetheless offended, I did not mean it to be so.

    What I answered were facts against allegations that this article was “pathetic,” “laughable,” “doing Obama’s bidding,” and more.

    What I answered was a basic (neutral) fact: The writer does not know who I am to be making such assumptions, and I briefly said why this was true with more facts that will hold water.

    One can see that as taking it personally or not, but I did not mean it to be. Please AP, put yourself in my shoes for a minute. My choices in answering attacking language are few, and in this seat – if you’ll consider it – I am faced with a double standard some ask me to meet.

    I can say nothing, and I just may next time. Or, I can answer with truth – and be accused of taking it personally and needing to learn a lot about professionalism. Or I can give a benign meaningless answer like, “thanks for your feedback” when someone rips apart the name of this publication.

    At any rate, thank you (sincerely) for your views. I will review my approach, and we will revise as we go.

    We only started posting more daily content in recent weeks, and there’s more positive developments to come.

    Best Regards,

    Jeff

  • AP

    Jeff, I appreciate your comments. Please remember

    There are diplomatic and non-diplomatic ways of saying the same thing. An editor should be diplomatic.

    There is a difference between being assertive and agggressive.

    Other people who read this blog (such as myself) may not agree with everything you write, and may agree with some points that other outlets (even Fox News) has. They are certainly not always correct.
    But in my view, most media outlets are “left of center,” so some of Fox’s views are less “radical” than you might think.

    We should be equally aware of left-leaning writers being nasty as well as right-leaning.

  • Jeff Cobb

    Thanks AP,

    I agree there’s a difference between assertive and aggression.

    The main reason I spoke up (though I won’t always) was because the name of HybridCars.com was impugned.

    Since we are in process of updating this site, I actually intended the response to be read by people who are regulars, like yourself, as well as people of good will who will want to follow this site.

    It is important to us to refine the process in communicating to you all, and we do want to avoid appearance of being unprofessional or biased, though too often, someone out there will not like what we do, no matter how much care we may take.

    The Internet is still being likened to the Wild West, and what constitutes proper protocols and responsibilities – from the editorial side as well as from readers – is still something being looked at. …

    If you’d like to know, I consider myself neither left nor right. I can with good conscience write for this site because of what I alluded to above in the first post to Hayes – the core thrust of why alternative energy sources are being sought is a valid journalistic endeavor.

    If I take any editorial view, it is a politics-transcending one, namely, that people are trying to find solutions, but I recognize it is not always a neat and tidy process.

    It has become politically complicated because it involves lots of money, affects many lives, and energy is a central foundation to modern human civilization as we have made it.

    There’s a lot of passion and emotion attached to all of this, and so many divergent opinions out there.

    Advanced-tech transportation is now at the stage where many are talking about an “all of the above” approach because there is no one “magic bullet” replacement – at least not yet, though there’s always (real) hope, isn’t there? (Confronted also by skepticism as people debate actual specific ways … )

    Since politics have become involved in the process of discovering/developing new energy transportation, we will go so far as to report on it, but we do not mean to deliberately write disguised editorials presented as straight news.

    If we even come close to touching on topics where others do willfully try to slant the story beyond the bounds of established journalistic integrity, I can understand why people would think we are also.

    But that is not our goal. Our goal is the covering of news and reviews and developments as the world attempts to find other ways to meet its transportation needs.

    Cheers,

    Jeff

  • AlaBill

    What you are suggesting about the government controlling prices is the definition of socialism. If you want to ALLOW the govt. to help prices the let them raise CAFE mileage and mandate more public transit. This would have a lot more positive effect on poor and middle class household budgets.

  • hotrod

    A simple recognition that this information came from Media Matters would have been useful.

    Sources are important these days.

    If you use Media Matters as source to discredit FOX News, ya may as well ask Axlerod’s opinion of Romney and get into politics without cars.

  • West

    hotrod-
    RE: A simple recognition that this information came from Media Matters would have been useful. Sources are important these days.

    The article says: “Contrast this with 2008, when gas prices were around $4 per gallon and you get a rather different message, dare we say credible reporting from Fox in some cases, as this medley compiled by Media Matters, and noted by TreeHugger

  • Van

    Setting aside the effort to discredit Fox new, what about the premise, the President has little control over the price of gas?

    Certainly in the short term he has little control. And if the congress is controlled by his opposition, such that his initiatives are blocked, then even in the long run the President cannot improve the economics of our dependence on foreign oil.

    And even if say oil leases go up under a President, if the refining and delivery infrastructure are tied up in court and regulation, little increase in production occurs.

    Obviously the way to fix the problem is not to drive the price up, but to drive it down, not in the main with increased production, which adversely affects air quality, but by fostering alternate fuels such as EV’s and Hybrids.

  • checker99

    If the O’ministration wanted to increase the price of gas at the pump, they could’ve had Congress pass a supplemental gas tax. Instead, they pursued policies that raised the price of oil for everyone, including very loose federal money supply, which has our economy the ropes. Very bad policy decisions to limit new oil exploration, stop the Keystone pipeline, and reduce our consumption by putting people out of work. This is not a policy a President who wants to be re-elected will take credit for.

  • Tony

    It’s not really THAT complicated – and Jeff seems like a smart guy so I think he knows this already. But while it’s true the president doesn’t control gas prices, his policies can and do influence them.

    The current president’s policies, by restricting the amount of oil that can be produced in the US in ways that differ from the policies of his predecessor, has – however indirectly – caused the price of oil, and therefore the price of gasoline at the pump right this very minute to be higher than it otherwise would be. That’s just a simple, basic fact. You can deny it if you want, and you can call others liars who assert it. But by doing so, you’re lying – whether to yourself or your audience.

    Calling out FNC as dishonest for reporting it accurately – and in so doing implicitly supporting others, including the president himself, for their dishonesty in claiming the opposite – I believe you damage the site’s reputation and therefore – to the extent that it is influential – you blunt it’s influence.

    And I’m sorry – but if you think you’re own biases are not evident when you publish something under a headline like the one at the top of this page, you are kidding yourself. I’ve got what may be a news flash for you. While Fox News is criticized loudly and often for it’s supposed bias, the critics are few in number and have strong biases of their own. In other words, it’s not the mainstream view that you and 90% of these other comment writers seem to think it is. Put another way – a headline like the one above takes a side and is, by definition, not objective.

  • Tony

    “Advanced-tech transportation is now at the stage where many are talking about an “all of the above” approach because there is no one “magic bullet” replacement – at least not yet, though there’s always (real) hope, isn’t there?”

    Moving away from politics for a moment (don’t worry, I’m sure we’ll be back…)

    Is one “magic bullet” replacement really the goal – or even desirable? Isn’t the core of the problem with our current situation that we’re extremely dependent on the last “magic bullet”? The main driver for “all of the above” (which, to sprinkle in a little politics, was the Bush energy policy since 2001 and what President Obama specifically ran against in 2008) is that the more sources we have commercially available, the more resilient we are in the face of disruption of any one source.