Just as mainstream automakers are beginning to launch electric vehicle (EV) technology, The Washington Post is calling for an end to federal tax credits encouraging consumers to purchase electric cars. The Post's editorial coincides with a Republican proposal (not mentioned in the editorial) to repeal the tax credits, which date back to the latter years of the George W. Bush administration. Continuing what has become a pattern in the paper's energy coverage, the Post presents a selective and short-sighted version of the facts.
Take, for instance, the argument that "only upper-income consumers can afford to buy an electric vehicle." In a highly misleading move, the Post provides the price of only one EV option, the luxury $100,000 Fisker Karma. By contrast, the after-credit cost of a Nissan Leaf is $27,700. A CNNMoney guide to the "remarkable assortment" of plug-in cars coming online in 2012 quotes prices starting "from $22,000." Beyond the sticker price, EVs have lower operating costs and represent the only option most families have for really shielding their financial security from perennial spikes in the price of gasoline.
The Post goes on to argue that the electric car industry is "not ready for prime time," saying "sales of electric vehicles were disappointing in 2011." Chelsea Sexton, an electric car advocate who has advised GM, said via email that 2011 sales of electric cars have for the most part "been limited by production, not demand." "Even so, 2011 [EV] sales were nearly double first year (2000) hybrid sales," Sexton added.
The editorial makes no note of the economic factors suppressing consumer demand for many goods and services. Nor does it recognize that lawmakers supported electric cars because they are not already a well-established technology, not in spite of that fact. The federal government has long played an important role in supporting innovations that later became "the technologies we take for granted," in the words of the Breakthrough Institute. The Post editorial declares that "conventional hybrids" show "much more promise" than electric cars, without mentioning that those hybrids were boosted by federal tax credits from 2005-2010.
From the December 22 edition of Fox News' The Five:
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From the December 15 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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With some provisions of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 scheduled to go into effect on January 1, right-wing media have revived the false claim that the government is "ban[ning]" incandescent light bulbs. In fact, the law simply restricts the sale of inefficient bulbs and has led companies to develop numerous alternatives, including energy-efficient incandescents.
From the November 14 edition of Fox News' America Live:
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Fox's supposedly "straight news" division has used the decision by the State Department to delay consideration of TransCanada's proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline to join its opinion division in grossly exaggerating the number of jobs the project might create.
The proposed pipeline project has led to massive protests by activist who fear the pipeline could eventually lead to climate change, oil spills, and groundwater contamination. (Of course Fox almost completely failed to cover these protests.) Before the decision, Fox personalities had claimed the pipeline would create somewhere between 50,000 and a million jobs.
Fox based their numbers on a flawed industry-funded study done by the Texas-based Perryman Group. But TransCanada itself said the pipeline would directly create around 13,000 "new jobs for American Workers." TransCanada later admitted that the 13,000 figure did not mean actual jobs, but was a figure describing jobs for "one person, one year." The Washington Post reported that, based on TransCanada's figures, the number of jobs created would be closer to 6,500 new jobs.
The TransCanada-funded study also said that 118,000 jobs would be created by the pipeline in a variety of other industries, including the tobacco and apparel industries and that the resulting changes in oil supplies could create 250,000 - 553,235 new jobs. However, an independent study found that the project's "job creation potential is relatively small, and could be completely outweighed by the project's potential to destroy jobs through rising fuel costs, spill damage and clean up operations, air pollution and increased GHG emissions."
This did not stop Fox's "straight news" division from jumping all over the recent delay as an opportunity to push the same misleading jobs numbers. Fox News' America's Newsroom, Happening Now, and America Live all suggested the president's decision not to react would cost Americans 20,000 new jobs.
For instance, here's Happening Now co-anchor Jon Scott saying that President Obama has pushed Congress to pass his plan to create jobs, "but now, he's holding up a project that could put 20,000 people to work in this country right away":
Fox News has claimed that TransCanada's proposed Keystone XL pipeline would create somewhere between 50,000 and a million jobs. In fact, even TransCanada acknowledges that the total jobs created would be far fewer, and an independent report has found that the project could actually destroy more jobs than it creates through higher fuel costs and environmental damage.
Looking for "another Solyndra," ABC News has run several reports about $1 billion in federal loans to advanced car companies Fisker Automotive and Tesla Motors. ABC's big scoop last week -- that Fisker hired a company in Finland to assemble some if its cars -- was actually a recycled story pushed by Fox News more than two years ago.
ABC delivered another round of reports last night and got some of its facts wrong. Nightline host Terry Moran introduced the segment as a story about Obama's 2009 stimulus bill:
MORAN: Two and a half years ago President Obama pushed a $787 billion stimulus bill through Congress that he said would create millions of jobs, but now the president's under attack by critics who say that stimulus hasn't created a significant number of jobs and costs too much. Tonight ABC's Brian Ross looks at two companies that received a billion in government loans and asks, what did they do with it?
Actually, these loans don't have anything to do with the stimulus package (which, by the way, increased employment by 1 to 2.9 million as of August, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. If ABC thinks that isn't a "significant number," it should say so.)
The Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program was established by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which received broad bipartisan support. President Bush and Congress determined that investing in energy-efficient vehicles was worth risking $7.5 billion, which is how much they gave the program to cover the cost of any defaults or delinquencies.
Somehow, ABC managed to avoid mentioning any of this in its three reports on the loans yesterday.
A story touted as "an ABC News exclusive" actually rehashes a flawed narrative pushed by Fox News more than two years ago.
In collaboration with iWatch News, Brian Ross and ABC's "investigative unit" reported late last week that Fisker Automotive, a hybrid car maker that received a federal loan, "is assembling its first line of cars in Finland." The loan itself, however, can only be used to support operations based in the U.S.
ABC published the story, titled "Car Company Gets U.S. Loan, Builds Cars In Finland," on Thursday night and Ross reported the "ABC News exclusive" on Friday's edition of Good Morning America. Ross said that World News and Nightline would also feature the story on Friday, but ABC did not run those segments.
Instead, Ross appeared on the Fox Business Network Friday night, where he told host David Asman that those in the administration criticizing his reporting "just don't like the takeaway, which is that they got the loan and they're building the car in Finland."
But this news isn't new. In fact, it was explained by the Department of Energy (DOE) in a September 2009 press release announcing the conditional loan. According to the release, "final assembly" of the high-end Fisker Karma "will be done overseas." Indeed, Fisker had a contract to assemble the Karma in Finland before the company ever received funds from DOE. ABC failed to note this fact and the misunderstanding was compounded by other news outlets covering ABC's report.
The loan supports design work carried out in Michigan and California for the Karma, as well as the assembly of Fisker's lower-cost hybrid, Project Nina, which will take place at a former GM factory in Wilmington, Deleware. Fisker began hiring for the Delaware plant in June.
From the October 18 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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From the October 15 edition of Fox News' Cavuto on Business:
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From the September 29 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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The conservative media today attacked the Obama administration by attempting to link them to the Food and Drug Administration's decision to phase out "over-the-counter asthma inhalers containing chloroflouorocarbons (CFCs)." The Weekly Standard published a piece by Mark Hemingway headlined "Obama Administration Set to Ban Asthma Inhalers Over Environmental Concerns," which claimed that the "Obama administration would rather make people with Asthma cough up money than let them make a surely inconsequential contribution to depleting the ozone layer."
But it turns out that the FDA was simply following through with plans put in place when George W. Bush was president.
Remember how Obama recently waived new ozone regulations at the EPA because they were too costly? Well, it seems that the Obama administration would rather make people with Asthma cough up money than let them make a surely inconsequential contribution to depleting the ozone layer
Hemingway went on to cite an Associated Press article that explains some details of the inhaler ban, but Hemingway must not have read the AP article too closely. That's because the AP reported that "[t]he FDA finalized plans to phase out the products in 2008" when Bush was president, not Obama. From the AP article:
The FDA finalized plans to phase out the products in 2008 and currently only Armstrong Pharmaceutical's Primatene mist is available in the U.S. Other manufacturers have switched to an environmentally-friendly propellant called hydrofluoroalkane. Both types of inhalers offer quick-relief to symptoms like shortness of breath and chest tightness, but the environmentally-friendly inhalers are only available via prescription.
National Rifle Association board member and Washington Times columnist Ted Nugent returned to the subject of last month's raid on Gibson Guitar Corporation factories in an appearance on last night's edition of Fox Business' Lou Dobbs Tonight. In that raid, federal agents confiscated wood, hard drives, and guitars on the suspicion that Gibson had illegally imported Indian hardwood
After declaring Dobbs the "quintessential American" and stating that he has both owned and "blown up hundreds" of Gibson guitars, Nugent offered a unique take on law enforcement procedures:
NUGENT: What they did to Gibson Guitars is so illogical, so anti-American, so contrary to the claims of creating jobs, they shut down a globally-revered American craftsman, Gibson Guitars. And you know, Lou, I'm just a guitar player, but let me know how I would have done it if I heard that maybe Gibson had some illegal wood. I wouldn't get an armed raid like I was going after some child rapist or murderers or drug runners, of course, then we'd have to arrest the ATF. What I would do is I would call Gibson and say, "Hey, can I come down and look at your receipts? I hear you got some bad wood." Can you believe the depth of abuse and the outrageous assault on freedom and positive forces in this country?
So if law enforcement believes a company is violating the law, Nugent thinks they should call the company up, tell them they are under investigation, and ask them nicely to provide evidence. Such a policy would, of course, invite those companies to destroy evidence, which is why the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agents instead did what law enforcement typically does in the real world -- gather evidence, present it to a judge, and get search warrants for the premises in question. That, in Nugent's mind, makes them "jack-booted thugs."
Of course, Nugent isn't so lenient with everyone. He's also said that "If it was up to me, if you uttered the word 'gun control,' we'd put you in jail," and asserted that "a kid going to a Grateful Dead concert who's caught with sugar-cube-encrusted LSD" should "get caned" and be raped in prison daily by "a huge, unclean black man."
On August 24, federal agents entered the Tennessee factories of the Gibson Guitar Corporation and confiscated wood, hard drives, and guitars on the suspicion that Gibson had illegally imported Indian hardwood. The story is newsworthy to be sure, and it was covered by the Associated Press, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, NPR, CNN and others. But Fox stands apart from the rest for both the volume and tone of its coverage.
Fox discussed Gibson 24 times in a little over two weeks, including both the Fox News Channel (14) and the Fox Business Network (10). By contrast, CNN reported on the story 8 times, 7 of which were the same taped news report aired during different hours of programming over three days.
Unlike the other news outlets, Fox speculated that the raid was politically motivated, citing the Gibson CEO's Republican party identification. At the same time, Fox largely omitted important background information that sheds light on why Gibson may have been targeted. Fox also linked the story to narratives about the Obama administration, regulation and jobs -- in line with Congressional Republicans who have incorporated the Gibson case into their broader criticisms of the administration.