Accuracy in Media

ABC News has touched on one of the most controversial aspects of Al Gore and his family background – his personal and family ties to Occidental Petroleum. To put it bluntly, Occidental made the Gore family rich, and the vice president continues to benefit financially from his ties to the company.

Occidental was headed by the late Armand Hammer, a Soviet agent and money launderer for the Communist Party. But ABC News didn?t mention that. Instead, it focused on Occidental?s current oil operations in Colombia, and the failure of Gore to speak out in favor of an Indian tribe down there which feels threatened by that development. The ABC News story, reported by Terry Moran, aired the same day that an ad appeared in the Los Angeles Times referring to Gore as the “Petroleum Politician.”

The report was an attack on Gore from the left, from those who believe he?s a phony environmentalist. That ad was placed by an environmental group. One of the Gore critics in the piece was Atossa Soltani of Amazon Watch. It appears that ABC did the story because of pressure from these organizations. Many of them have dogged Gore during his campaign appearances, accusing him of ignoring the plight of “indigenous peoples.” But their evidence of the financial connection is real. Reporter Terry Moran echoed their complaints by noting that Occidental is a major Democratic Party donor and has given nearly $500,000 in soft money since 1992. Charles Lewis of the Center for Public Integrity said Occidental is closer to Al Gore than any company in the U.S.

Even though Gore stiffed him, by refusing several requests to speak with ABC News, Moran tried to go to his defense anyway on the issue of Gore?s ownership of Occidental stock he inherited from his father. Here?s how Moran reported Gore?s side of the story: “…as executor of his father?s estate, Gore has legal responsibilities that could prevent him from simply dumping the Occidental stock. And the Clinton Administration is supporting the Colombian government in its battle with guerrillas and drug dealers, who control 40 percent of the country.”

Moran made it sound as though Gore was supporting a policy in Colombia because it is the correct one, and not because it is in Occidental?s interest. But the policy may have been influenced by the Occidental campaign contributions. The Administration?s aid package to Colombia seems deliberately designed to protect Occidental?s oil business in Colombia, not to win a war against narco-terrorists.

On the matter of Gore?s family connections, ABC?s Terry Moran mentioned that Gore Sr. was on the board of the company, but didn?t mention that he was put there by the communist agent Armand Hammer. Gore Sr. was in charge of Occidental?s coal division, where he concentrated on developing the coal reserves of Communist China. Under Clinton-Gore, the company has concentrated on countries like Colombia, Russia and even Libya. This is where the next phase of ABC?s investigation should go. ABC should not let the matter drop now that they?ve pleased the environmentalists. Gore?s Occidental connection goes far deeper than that.

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