Media All Wrong on BP Oil Spill Politics

bp spillIn one corner we have a political party owned and controlled by oil companies, and whose 2008 Presidential candidate backed a “Drill, Baby, Drill” agenda. In the other we have a President who has fought for an energy policy that reduced the nation’s dependence on oil, and a political party that has promoted increased government regulation over corporations. Which side politically benefits from an oil spill that highlights the dangers of drilling and of unregulated energy companies? According to much of the traditional media, it’s the pro-drilling, anti-regulation camp.

The nonsense and political disinformation around the politics of the BP oil spill is stunning. Each day we are told that President Obama’s entire agenda has been undermined by BP’s reckless action, despite all evidence to the contrary.

Media: It’s Always the Government’s Fault
According to the traditional media, every problem is caused by the government. Wall Street thievery? It’s government’s fault for not effectively regulating. The BP Oil spill? Blame government for

  • inadequate regulation,
  • not moving on the problem more quickly and
  • not stopping the spill.

And while government is blamed, the primarily Republican Senators, Governors, and House members paid by corporations to prevent regulation are let off the hook. Even worse, the media highlights attacks on government by the Bobby Jindal’s and Haley Barbour’s, ignoring how their anti-regulatory positions are to blame.

The media has run away from confronting politicians preaching “Drill, Baby, Drill,” preferring to blame President Obama. No wonder Obama has spoken more aggressively against corporate greed and Republican hypocrisy in recent days; he realizes how the media’s trying to make him the fall guy for the Bush-Cheney love affair with Big Oil.

Voters Not Fooled
As the recent primaries showed, voters are not being fooled by false media narratives. Across the nation, post BP spill polls show increased support for Democrats. I’m not suggesting a cause and effect, but instead arguing that the media’s belief that the spill is hurting Democrats lacks a factual basis.

If anything, BP shows that Obama and the Democrats need to be even more aggressive in regulating corporations, and puts Republicans on the defensive. It’s not only Rand Paul who has lost ground by defending BP; the spill puts pro-oil Republicans (virtually the entire party) in a tough position this fall with voters.

BP has also created momentum for Obama’s push for new energy policies, giving new life to climate change legislation that Republicans and oil-state Dems were prepared to block. Republicans have no choice but to defend Big Oil and oppose new energy policies and regulations, undermining their populist “Tea Party” image.

The Arkansas Campaign
We will get a good test of the impact of the BP spill in next Tuesday’s Halter-Lincoln Senate runoff in Arkansas. The League of Conservation Voters ran a killer ad against Lincoln last week, highlighting her as the biggest recipient of oil company donations.

Should, as many expect, Halter wins this race, it will clearly send a message that voters were angry over Lincoln’s cozy relations with Big Oil.

But that won’t be how the media plays it.

The media will say that Halter’s win reflects growing anti-Obama anger that has been stirred by his failure to stop the spill. Lincoln’s oil donations will be forgotten, and the narrative that voters are mad at “big government,” not corporations, will continue.

Try as he might, even Barack Obama cannot change a media narrative where government incompetence is completely disconnected from industry pressure, and where corporate wrongs are isolated rather than systemic acts.

But I think voters are not fooled.

Randy Shaw

Republished with permission from Beyond Chron


  1. says

    It is hard to put into words how shocked I am that it took BP so long to make any substantial profess in stopping the leak. It makes you question what kind of people they have running the company. What I find hard to believe is that a multinational cooperation like BP, with over a 100 years experience in the business, couldn’t do more. The only good thing from this whole experience is that it shows we give companies like them too much credit. So sad. The worst part of the whole situation is that is that so many people have had their livelihood pulled out from under their feet.

  2. in_awe says

    “We already knew that BP and its folks were significant contributors to the record $750-million war chest of Barack Obama’s 2007-08 campaign.

    Now, we learn the details of a connection of Rahm Emanuel, the Chicago mayoral wannabe, current Obama chief of staff, ex-representative, ex-Clinton money man and ex-Windy City political machine go-fer.

    Shortly after Obama’s happy inaugural, eyebrows rose slightly upon word that, as a House member, Emanuel had lived the last five years rent-free in a D.C. apartment of Democratic colleague Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut and her husband, Stanley Greenberg. “


    “Greenberg’s consulting firm was a prime architect of BP’s recent rebranding drive as a green petroleum company, down to green signs and the slogan “Beyond Petroleum.”

    Greenberg’s company is also closely tied to a sister Democratic outfit — GCS, named for the last initials of Greenberg, James Carville, another Clinton advisor, and Bob Shrum, John Kerry’s 2004 campaign manager.

    According to published reports, GCS received hundreds of thousands of dollars in political polling contracts in recent years from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

    Probably just a crazy coincidence. But you’ll never guess who was the chairman of that Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee dispensing those huge polling contracts to his kindly rent-free landlord.”

    Ain’t the Obama administration’s transparency great? I lived in Chicago for 26 years and this is Chicago style politics through and through. Expect 2-1/2 years more of this scummy stuff – it all Obama and Emanuel know.

  3. SK says

    Randy, you sound like you actually believe everything Obama said to convince us he was on the side of the general public against the corporations that own our government. In fact, you sound just like Obama: It’s all Bush’s fault. Granted, our president and our Party SAY the want regulation, and the Rethugs say the want deregulation, but in effect both parties achieve the same goal: massive wealth redistribution from the middle class to the rich.

    Personally, I hope the media does blame Obama for this mess. He IS to blame, right from his Bush-lite policies and revolving door corporate appointments to his lack of action after the spill, allowing BP to cover up the extent of the damage. He gets up on TV and pulls out the image of his daughter is asking him if he’s fixed the problem, what a good dad he is. Pffttt. He’s screwing us yet still hoping his family man image will help him out the way it helped convince so many of us to vote for him in 2008. What a hoax.

    However, the more important issue is whether Obama apologists will finally wise up and realize he’s a huge corporatist who continues Bush policies because he’s funded by corporations. That’s why we have universal health INSURANCE instead of universal health care. Obama gets to go down in history as the Man who gave America universal coverage, but we get to pay to stinkin’ bill to support the insurance industry that bought our president and Congress. That’s why we have bankster bailouts that fund the very institutions that are taking away our homes. That’s why there’s absolutely NO CHANGE to the way banks do business, even though their greed and mismanagement is what destroyed so many of our retirement accounts. Are Obama and the Democratic Congress giving us a Main Street bailout? Nope, but they’ll be happy to give corporations our public resources if they can claim they’re sharing a little bit of it with us in the form of jobs. (That’s after they’ve slashed and outsourced the jobs, by the way. We’ll be paying them to put some jobs back in circulation…)

    Why is it that whenever our guy screws up, everyone starts saying “But the Republicans are worse…!” So what? Isn’t it time we held Obama to standards that WE set? Luckily, President Obama had just given us another of his big professorial declarations about how safe offshore drilling is right before this spill occurred. Obama was rolling out his plan to expand offshore oil drilling and was prepping his followers for yet another corporatist policy that contradicts everything he promised us before he was elected. Maybe now some of the college students that normally lap up his lectures like gospel might just question his intentions when he announces the basis for his future Bush-lite policies.

    But that’s OK, keep repeating that other people are worse, especially those bad Republicans. That way we can all keep pretending that the guy we put in the White House is actually on our side instead of the multinational companies he seems to keep favoring.

  4. says

    Continuing to act like Democrats are pro regulation and the good guys is false – our entire government is a joke. Perhaps the biggest blame is to be placed on Obama – who chose an industry insider – Salazar – to clean up a corrupt Interior Department. Shock and surprise – it’s still corrupt!

    In a few months all it is going to take is one guy with a match to burn our flammable coastline communities to the ground. Shouldn’t the President consider this, uh, maybe a threat, maybe something that requires more than three hours to investigate?

    Progressives need to stop cutting Obama so much slack. He didn’t appoint Republicans and corporate tools in his administration for a “different” perspective than his own. When you appoint people like Salazar it is because you want to continue the corruption that existed under Bush.

  5. in_awe says

    Well, a little perspective is in order. Largest recipient of BP campaign funds? Obama. Whose administration missed 4 inspections of BP’s platform in 16 months? Obama’s. Whose administration waived the safety test on the destroyed platform? Obama’s. Whose administration issued a safety award to BP despite a horrific safety record? Obama’s.

    During his time in the Senate and while running for president, Obama was the top recipient of BP PAC and individual money over the past 20 years, according to financial disclosure records.

    In Congress, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.)was the top congressional recipient in the last cycle and one of the top BP cash recipients of the past two decades.

    As to the spill itself. It is horrible, but one must ask why it is necessary to drill in mile deep water when near shore and domestic terrestrial reserves remain untapped. When oil shale recovery is limited, and natural gas is frowned upon. Similar problems happening in 100′-500′ of water are infinitely easier to address, than under a mile of seawater with crushing forces at play.

    Where are the resources to contain the spill – booms and skimmers and a ready reserve of contracted vessels to use them? Seems that the Obama administration failed to implement a detailed plan to beef up resources to address just such a spill.

    But just go ahead and talk about how it is all the Republican’s fault – and none of it is the responsibility of the guy who was going to heal the planet and cause the seas to recede. When it comes down to tangible boring stuff our President is a failure.

    He knows it, as he throws everyone else under the bus and tries to distract the nation for his 4 weeks of unmitigated failure of leadership. And his great photo ops in front of battalions of workers on a beach lasted just long enough for the cameras to get their shots before the “workers” mysteriously reboarded their buses and disappeared. Parish Presidents all along the coast laugh when they are asked about the clean-up resources and efforts touted by the White House – like the 1700 vessels Obama claims are hard at work.

    As for Bobby Jindal, he asked repeatedly for the federal government to approve the creation of sand berms to protect beaches and wetlands. For weeks nothing happened because the Corps of Engineers said an environmental impact statement needed to be completed before a decision could be rendered. Jindal said screw that and started constructing the berms using state and local resources in violation of federal law. Only after that hit the media did the White House step in and order the berms to be built.

    Voters recall the accusations hurled at President Bush for the post-Katrina period – including those from a certain current President. What is good for the goose is good for the gander. Obama by HIS OWN MEASURE is clearly a failure and deserves the anger of the citizens of this country and soon those of Europe when the spilled oil heads up the country’s east coast and then across the Atlantic on the Gulf Stream.

    I hope Obama’s golf handicap is improving and his crooning abilities have improved while he claims he “spends day and night focused on the spill”.

  6. Lionel Heredia says

    Let’s face it. Corporations need to be regulated with a huge forceful hand and some corporate criminals need to go to jail as the public watches on national television. Next, the new Pentagon Papers need to come out to expose how this entire war with Iraq and others is based on a flat out lie. No weapons of mass destruction and Afghanistan is a total disaster with no end in sight for many years, if at all. What a waste of our good soldiers lives. What betrayl to our soldiers who are told these lies and end up having their own lives destroyed. British Petrolium needs to pay for every penny of damage and be fined on top of that, and some executives need to go to jail too. We had all better get out of our comfort bubble worlds and get pro-active or this ship will sink as other empires did in history. And stop blaming immigrants. We are all immigrants, just ask Native Americans!!!!!


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