Accuracy in Media

The NBC Nightly News devoted over two minutes on Wednesday night to sad stories of Americans without jobs and the controversy over passing another extension of unemployment benefits. Republicans were portrayed as villains for insisting that the benefits be paid for through federal budget cuts in other areas.

But only 30 seconds was allotted—in the very next story in the newscast—to the Obama Administration’s latest decision to ban oil drilling for five years or more. At a time of massive unemployment and a growing economic and financial crisis, this is a decision that Democrats and Republicans agree will cost Americans thousands of good-paying jobs.

One obvious answer to unemployment—besides unemployment benefits—is jobs. Yet NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams portrayed the decision by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar as having no impact on jobs at all. In his summary of the decision, viewed as protective of the environment from big bad oil companies, Williams decided NOT to include any comments from critics of the Obama Administration decision. These critics included:

  • Senator David Vitter, Republican of Louisiana, who said, “This alarming announcement is further proof that this administration doesn’t know the first thing about creating jobs. Cutting off access to American resources from American businesses will only send more of our money and jobs overseas while we watch energy prices continue to rise. As they’ve demonstrated with the de facto moratorium on offshore drilling in the Gulf, this administration will stop at nothing to advance its agenda to reduce—or even completely end—offshore drilling everywhere.”
  • Senator Mary Landrieu, Democrat of Louisiana, who said, “Today’s announcement by Secretary Salazar to limit areas in the Atlantic and Eastern Gulf of Mexico is [a]  major step backwards for our nation’s energy security.”
  • Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, who said, “As a candidate President Obama promised to work to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. But  the Obama Administration’s announcement of a moratorium on offshore drilling in the Pacific, Atlantic, and eastern Gulf is only the latest in a string of policies designed to make us more dependent on foreign oil by reducing domestic production. President Obama is dishonestly pursuing policies that are the opposite of what he promised and that are against America’s economic interests and opposed by a strong majority of Americans. The United States is the only country in the world with potential major offshore oil resources that is not actively exploiting them.  The Obama Administration has decided that it is better for Cuba to bring in China, Russia, and Venezuela to drill a few miles off the Florida Keys than to allow American companies to drill in American waters.”
  • Rep. Steve Scalise, Republican of Louisiana, who said,  “While OPEC will certainly love today’s announcement, unfortunately this purely political decision by President Obama will cost thousands more American jobs and increase our dependence on Middle Eastern oil. This retreat away from domestic energy sources will jeopardize America’s energy security and does absolutely nothing to make energy exploration and development safer, nor does it ensure that we work to a more energy independent future, and I am incredibly disappointed that the only result of this decision is the guarantee that we will become more dependent on Middle Eastern countries to satisfy our energy needs.”

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