Barack Obama’s Keystone Media Criticism

Keystone pipeline pumping station, Nebraska (cc photo: Shannon Ramos)

Keystone pipeline pumping station, Nebraska (cc photo: Shannon Ramos)

 Washington Post reporter Juliet Eilperin (7/29/13) noticed an interesting part of a recent New York Times interview with Barack Obama, where he discussed the Keystone pipeline:

In the interview, which was posted online Saturday night, Obama questioned the project’s economic benefits, saying “there is no evidence” to the Republican argument that “this would be a big jobs generator.”

“And my hope would be that any reporter who is looking at the facts would take the time to confirm that the most realistic estimates are this might create maybe 2,000 jobs during the construction of the pipeline–which might take a year or two–and then after that we’re talking about somewhere between 50 and 100 [chuckles] jobs in a economy of 150 million working people,” Obama added.

So Keystone probably won’t create many jobs–that’s something we’ve been pointing out here on the FAIR Blog (e.g., 1/25/12) for a long time now, that coverage too often just repeated claims, often from Republicans, about the number of jobs likely to be created by the project. Back to the Post piece:

He also suggested that the pipeline would not lower gas prices in the U.S., and could actually increase them in the Midwest, an argument buttressed by recent fluctuations in the crude oil market.

“So what we also know is, is that that oil is going to be piped down to the Gulf to be sold on the world oil markets, so it does not bring down gas prices here in the United States,” Obama said. “In fact, it might actually cause some gas prices in the Midwest to go up where currently they can’t ship some of that oil to world markets.”

Oil is sold on a global market–and that makes it very unlikely that the tar sands oil will do much to lower gas prices in the United States. That’s a fact often missing from Keystone coverage, as Dean Baker and others (including FAIR Blog8/23/12) have pointed out for years.

It’s not likely that coverage of these energy issues is going to change much because of what Obama is saying–nor are his comments necessarily indicative of whether he’ll approve the Keystone pipeline or not. But he’s evidently doing media criticism.


About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.