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FOX and the Conspiracy-Laden "Coverage' of the BP Oil Spill

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With over 200,000 gallons of oil leaking into the Gulf from the disaster on the BP platform, discussion over the the plausibility of environmentally friendly drilling has taken a turn against the hopes of the oil industry. Just the mention of the event has made future exploratory drilling politically implausible. FOX, given its position as overwhelmingly pro drilling, especially with its hire of the woman who famously coined the "drill, baby, drill" mantra echoed by so many on its programs, has lashed out against seeing the event as a reprimand against future drilling. In fact, in the effort to discredit environmental concerns reignited by the spill, FOX has gone so far as to entertain conspiracy theories that only further question the network's debunked credibility.

Members of the overarching FOX team have made the network's political stance on expanded drilling abundantly clear for years. Sarah Palin coined her "drill, baby, drill" stance well before she arrived as a contributor to FOX, but she did not need to get paid to have Sean Hannity saliently repeating her mantra on the Saudi-funded network. Glenn Beck also partook in drilling advocacy before he even arrived at FOX, telling viewers, "We have to ramp up domestic offshore drilling," certainly ingratiating himself with the audience of the GOP's network. Newt Gingrich pushed the drilling agenda quite heavily, too, literally writing a book on it and disingenuously arguing for it on the grounds that "every year that this ban [on new offshore drilling] remains in place is another year that Americans will needlessly pay high gas prices, with much of the profits going to foreign dictatorships." Apparently, Gingrich has a major problem with the leadership in Canada, the top source for U.S. oil.

With such an ingrained position for offshore drilling, some at FOX had a predictably averse reaction to the bad press the idea received after the BP spill. The extraordinary lengths some have gone to counter the offshore drilling backlash, though, may not have been predictable. Picking up on an intimation of impropriety made by Rush Limbaugh days earlier, Dana Perino presented the possibility of a conspiracy involved on FOX & Friends. As she said, "What'll be interesting to me, and I'm not trying to introduce a conspiracy theory," meaning she knew she was about to do just that as she asked, "Was this deliberate? You know, you have to wonder, yeah, if there was sabotage."

Dana Perino rarely comes across as a qualified, authoritative commentator on most subjects, especially given her apparent distrust of the government though she came to stardom as an employee of it, but Eric Bolling echoed her sentiments and took them a step further. He told the hosts, "The question is did they let this thing leak? I mean, I know BP said 1,000 barrels a day went to 5,000. Did they let it leak a little bit and say, "Boy, I don't know.' I mean, the conspiracy theorists would say, maybe they let it leak for a while and then they address the issue." Host Gretchen Carlson appeared incredulous at the "humongous accusation," despite her own occasional forays into unsupported conspiracy theories, illustrating the ludicrous nature of Bolling's accusation. FOX's ratings leader, Bill O'Reilly, would probably qualify those kinds of ludicrous allegations as "insane," as well, though only when on another network.

The least logical step that a FOX person could take probably came from Bill Kristol, who took the event as a sure sign that not only should there be continued drilling, but that it should occur closer to the shore. Fellow FOX colleague and offshore drilling fan Brit Hume had just admitted that the incident relates to the argument against offshore drilling in that it "verifies that argument, and becomes a powerful factor in the debate over what to do next. I don't see any way around the political reality that this will set back the cause of offshore drilling in the United States." Kristol apparently disagreed and just assumed that Americans would get over it and have drilling nearer to the beaches because it would be "less dangerous, less treacherous than trying to drill fifty miles out from the coast." An oil spill closer to land would certainly have an obvious, direct influence on even the people living there, but to Kristol and FOX, those considerations are transparently secondary to the pro-drilling agenda.

FOX maintains a salient preference for offshore drilling regardless of the environmental or economic consequences. If the network had any genuine interest in the argument that the U.S. should adopt more local drilling to take away money from the Middle East, it would not have rejected ads supporting environmentally friendly policies that also make the U.S. less dependent on Saudi oil. Instead, FOX cares more about making money for the oil companies in the States and in the Middle East, like those that benefit their infamous Saudi shareholder. To that end, FOX contributors pushed baseless conspiracy theories and ignore the environmental disaster before them to push for more drilling. Viewers should demand FOX work on reporting news, not the latest unsupported allegations supporting the network's, and its foreign shareholders', agenda -- and in the meantime, choose to Turn Off FOX.

Originally posted at Turn Off FOX.

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Contributor to BuzzFlash and writer for Turn Off FOX.
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