Fox News is currently under fire for hosting disgraced former FEMA director Michael Brown to repeatedly suggest that the Obama administration let the BP oil spill "get really bad" so that they could use the spill as an excuse to "shut down offshore drilling."
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs slammed Fox News yesterday for not pushing back against Michael Brown's conspiracy theories, and Bill O'Reilly, appearing on ABC this morning, said that he "would have slapped" Brown if he had made those comments on the Factor instead of on Neil Cavuto's Your World.
In response to Gibbs, Fox's evening "news" program ran a typically dishonest damage control segment. As we documented, Brit Hume and Bret Baier tried to cover up the network's failure to challenge Brown by refusing to air, quote, or accurately describe Brown's actual comments.
Taken as an isolated incident, Neil Cavuto's failure to provide any pushback to Brown would be hugely embarrassing for the network. But Fox's problem with forwarding outlandish conspiracy theories about the oil spill is actually much worse than that.
Where could Brown have gotten the ridiculous idea that the administration let the rig leak on purpose? Well, if he had been watching Fox & Friends the morning he went on Cavuto's show, the answer is: from Fox Business host and Fox News contributor Eric Bolling.
Appearing on Fox & Friends on Monday morning, Bolling responded to host Steve Doocy's question about whether the rig disaster may have been the result of "sabotage" by falsely claiming that the administration waited "nine days before it was even addressed."
BOLLING: The question is, did they let this thing leak? I mean, BP said maybe a thousand barrels a day, it went to five thousand. Did they let it leak a little bit and say, boy I don't know. The conspiracy theorists would say, 'maybe they'd let it leak for a while, and then they addressed the issue.'"
CARLSON: That would make a humongous accusation
BOLLING: That would be a humongous accusation and probably the net result would be no different, but if they're going to try and pull drilling, that may be the way they do it.
To recap: not only did Fox News fail to challenge Michael Brown pushing the conspiracy theory that the administration let the oil spill worsen for political reasons, but one of their own employees made the essentially same accusation. While Bolling (slightly) tempered his conclusion by suggesting it is what "conspiracy theorists would say," he left as an open question the claim that the administration "let this thing leak," and lent credence to the idea by saying "that may be the way they do it."
That tracks pretty much exactly with what Brown said later that day. And since Fox News has already shown that they deal with rampant conspiracism on their network by ignoring it and attacking their critics, we can be sure to expect more of this from Fox News employees in the future.