ABC News Broadcasts Selective “Truth About Oil”

Last Friday, July 24, ABC News aired the special “Over a Barrel: The Truth About Oil.” It might have been more correctly titled “Charlie Gibson Hates the Oil Companies.”

ABC News newsreader Charlie Gibson interviewed 18 people during the course of the program. Seven were gas station owners, refinery workers and the like – people who were there to specifically deliver raw information about the operations of the oil industry. When it came to the 11 people featured for their political insight, it was obvious Gibson only really wanted to hear one viewpoint.

For those who wanted to bash the oil companies, Gibson gave people such as Mark Cooper of the Consumer Federation of America and New York University professor Vijay Vaitheesweran long segments to pontificate. On the other side was Rayola Dougher of the American Petroleum Institute, who was given very little time at all in comparison to her opponents and who gave more informational responses than a defense of her industry.

The other oil industry defender? Gibson used campaign footage of former Alaska governor Sarah Palin and an interview he did with her during her vice presidential campaign. In the opening segment, for example, they have Gibson, Energy Secretary Stephen Chu and President Obama state that our nation is “addicted to oil,” and then cut to Palin starting a “drill, baby, drill” chant at a rally.

No bias there.

Secretary Chu was also pitched softballs by Gibson, who even prompted Chu at one point to say our nation is “headed for a train wreck” due to our reliance on foreign oil. Despite a small portion of the program talking about how new technology is allowing more productive domestic offshore drilling, there was a definite implication that America’s best energy days were in the past. And there was no mention of oil shale or tar sands exploration.

Further showing the network’s apparent allegiance to the White House, every previous modern president – from Nixon to Bush 43 – was derided for pledging to reduce American dependence on energy and not delivering. Gibson reserved praise for the promises of President Obama. And Secretary Chu added that things must change to stop global climate change.

That’s when they brought on “lifelong Republican” T. Boone Pickens to push for alternative energy. He’s invested in windfarms these days.

“Over a Barrel” was billed as a “20/20” special, but it was originally supposed to be a stand-alone special the previous Wednesday. Due to the presidential press conference that day, however, the network decided to go with “I Survived a Japanese Game Show” that night instead.

Despite this apparent acknowledgement by the network through its reprogramming that this was a dog of a program, it still won the sponsorship of some top-tier advertisers such as Home Depot, American Express, S.C. Johnson (Glade air freshener and Off insect repellant) and Darden Restaurants (Red Lobster and Olive Garden).

The National Center has been tracking the advertisers of ABC’s World News after they allowed Obama the ability to shill his health care plan on prime time television last month.

To see a list of corporate sponsors of ABC News programming and how you can contact them to express your thoughts on their bankrolling their nightly news and these news specials, go to our ABC News sponsors list.

This post was written by David Almasi, executive director of the National Center for Public Policy Research. Write the author at [email protected]. As we occasionally reprint letters on the blog, please note if you prefer that your correspondence be kept private, or only published anonymously.

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