Daily Archives: May 12, 2007

Gas Prices and the News Media

If we ever hope to become at least sophisticated enough to avoid voting yet another parlous disaster into the presidency, we’re going to have to give up our naivete, however comforting and familiar it might be, and grow up. To achieve this lofty goal (lofty for Americans, anyway) we’re going to need a press full of cynics and skeptics rather than propagandists, ideologues, and sycophants like the one we have now. We’re going to need people who recognize lies when they hear them and can – at a minimum – tell empty-gesture political theater from political theater with a legitimate purpose behind it.

Case in point:

For two solid years, gas prices have risen based on excuses that wouldn’t fool my 6-yr-old nephew, and the oil industry has raked in 8 quarters of record profits, profits so high that even Richard Nixon would have frozen them a year ago or else pushed Congress to pass a windfall-profits tax. The Pubs, of course, did neither of those things, instead periodically producing an “Outrage at Oil Prices Dance Ritual” wherein they made lots of noise and a Big Show fulminating against the absurdly high price of gas and unconscionable, equally absurdly high profits ripped from unsuspecting consumers’ dwindling pocketbooks by the oil industry. All of this was dutifully reported by a breathless press as proof that Republicans cared about the little guy.

Then, when the ballet was over and the cameras and klieg lights were turned off, the Pubs would go back to Congress and write more bills giving more money in tax breaks and incentives to already obscenely fat oil companies. Which our kiss-ass press did NOT report because, after all, today’s news media doesn’t report on bills that are never written. You can’t, they will piously explain to anyone who dares criticize them, report on a negative. That would be showing bias.

No, but what they could have done was mention, say, after the second year of watching this performance, that the very same outraged Republics frothing at the mouth over high gasoline prices had just finished awarding the energy industry $$$BILLIONS$$$ in corporate welfare for projects they had more than enough money to do for themselves. They might even have told us about the money the energy industry had donated to the campaigns of those who voted for that welfare. But they didn’t do either of those things because then they’d have been guilty of partisan reporting.

Comes this week and six Democratic Senators staging a little political theater of their own.

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