NBC Spins Oil Discovery Negatively
The recent massive oil discovery in the Gulf of Mexico led to in-depth reports by all three network newscasts, but only NBC spun the news negatively. There it was portrayed as a loss to environmentalists and consumers.
On his September 5 â€śNightly Newsâ€ť broadcast, anchor Brian Williams painted the new discovery as an unfortunate development. While â€śsome cheered the news that this huge expanse of oil has been found,â€ť Williams noted, â€śothers heard the news and wondered how America would ever end what the president has called this nationâ€™s addiction to oil.â€ť
Correspondent Martin Savidge fielded the story, dismissing the estimated 3 billion to 15 billion barrel reserve and going on to complain about the cost and the unprecedented difficulty in drilling on the new site.
The â€śdiscovery is not expected to trigger a significant reduction in Americaâ€™s dependence on foreign oil,â€ť Savidge complained.
To back up that assertion, the correspondent aired a sound bite from Jim Presswood of the liberal Natural Resources Defense Council, who cautioned that â€śwe need to find faster, cheaper and cleaner alternatives.â€ť
Yet the NBC reporter didnâ€™t alert viewers that the NRDC is a liberal advocacy group that doesnâ€™t just want to promote alternative fuels but mandate oil use reductions.
â€śWe already import almost 60 percent of our oil, making us dangerously dependentâ€ť on â€śa precarious energy source,â€ť NRDC noted in â€śA Responsible Energy Plan for America.â€ť To reach a goal of â€ścutting our demand [for oil] by 40 percent,â€ť NRDC went on to advocate that â€śCongress should pass legislation requiring the country to cut oil use by at least 2.5 million barrels of oil a day by 2015 and 10 million barrels per day by 2025.â€ť
Those type of mandates favored by NRDC would likely raise prices at the pump, yet Savidge went on to paint increased oil supplies as a threat to the consumerâ€™s bottom line.
â€śThe oil also wonâ€™t be cheap. Just to reach it required drilling over 5 miles, making it one of the deepest wells ever at a cost of a reported $100 million,â€ť he complained, adding that â€śthe new oilâ€™s not expected to show up here at the pump for another four years at the earliest, leaving a lot of motorists far from thrilled.â€ť
But what Savidge left out is that the heavy profits oil companies have earned as high oil prices are financing the exploration of Site 2. On the September 5 â€śWorld News with Charles Gibson,â€ť correspondent Betsy Stark noted that tapping the oil in Site 2 was too costly years ago, but feasible now with high oil prices and â€śrecord profitsâ€ť in the oil industry.
Over on CBS, reporter Anthony Mason told viewers the oil industry has the financial wherewithal to finance the costly drilling operation, noting that Shell alone â€śstill made a $25 billion profit last yearâ€ť even though it cost â€śhundreds of millionsâ€ť of dollars to repair oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico damaged by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
None of the September 5 newscasts mentioned another untapped oil reserve in American hands: the northern coastal plain of ANWR, which the U.S. government estimates to have â€śa mean expected value of 10.4 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil.â€ť The NRDC also opposes any drilling in ANWR, with NRDC Action Fund celebrity spokesman Robert Redford accusing the Bush administration of seeking to â€śindustrialize the Refuge for the sake of oil company profits.â€ť
But far from â€śindustrializingâ€ť a pristine nature preserve, a Heritage Foundation energy analyst estimated in March 2002 that drilling operations would entail a small â€śfootprintâ€ť for oil drilling of about 2,000 acres in the 19.5 million acre expanse of ANWR, around 0.01 percent of the Reserve.