Why does the public hate oil companies? If you’ve watched cable news the last two days you have your answer. With gasoline prices now more than $3.50 per gallon and more than $4.00 a gallon in some cities the national press has rediscovered the importance of transportation fuel. Who’s to blame for these high prices? “Greedy oil companies, of course!”
As usual, most of the national news coverage of the rising price of gasoline has been woefully incomplete, somewhat inaccurate or event completely unhinged. In the worst category is FOX News’s Bill O’Reilly. The last two nights on “The O’Reilly Factor” he’s ripped oil companies for obscene profits. His reporting on this issue is unconscionable, and it’s been that way for years. Those of you who have watched spOILed know that we featured him in the film. Mr. O’Reilly claims to be a thoughtful journalist, and I think most of the time he is. But when it comes to the price of a gallon of gas, O’Reilly willfully ignores the facts so he can pander to “the folks.” What a pinhead.
I think Bill O’Reilly should have his chain yanked, and I’m just the man to do it. Bill, invite me onto your show—if you dare. However, while I am particularly put out with the unconscionably poor reporting of Mr. O’Reilly, I’m even more disappointed with the response of the major oil companies… again. We’ve been down this road before so many times, and yet the response from the majors is the same. They sit on their hands and let the Bill O’Reilly’s of this world demonize them. Then they privately complain about how badly they are treated in the press.
Hey Exxon, Conoco, BP, Shell, put your mouthpieces out there and defend your business! Call up that pinhead O’Reilly and tell him you want to refute the untruths he is spouting. Then go on every other major network and do the same. For all of you out there who are waiting for this kind of aggressive approach, don’t hold your breath. It’s not going to happen.
For the record, I’m not interested in defending or promoting the major oil companies or even the oil and gas industry. Everyone in the industry needs to do a much better job communicating with the public and they need to get a LOT more proactive. My interest is in awakening the public to the vital interest WE ALL have in oil and most importantly transportation fuel. The quality of our lives, and even our very survival, is directly tied to this resource.
Allowing cable TV hosts like Mr. O’Reilly to demonize the industry that produces oil is extremely dangerous. The gross mischaracterization of petroleum companies creates an environment where government leaders feel free to make decisions that run counter to the interests of the American public. Right now Dennis Kucinich is proposing legislation for a “windfall profits tax” on oil companies. Representative Maxine Waters wants to nationalize the oil and gas industry. Count on hearing more of this kind of rhetoric so long as gas prices are well above $3.00 a gallon. What will the oil and gas industry do—publicly—as their industry is demonized? If history is our guide, not much.