NBC's Mitchell again failed to challenge false assertion that Katrina didn't result in oil spills
Research ››› ››› DIANNA PARKER
On MSNBC Live, Andrea Mitchell again failed to challenge the false assertion that Hurricane Katrina did not result in any oil spills, despite a report prepared for the U.S. Minerals Management Service that found 5,552 barrels of oil and petroleum products were spilled from Outer Continental Shelf structures as a result of damage caused by Katrina.
On the July 15 edition of MSNBC Live, NBC chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell once again failed to challenge the false assertion that Hurricane Katrina did not result in any oil spills, despite a report prepared for the U.S. Minerals Management Service that found 5,552 barrels of oil and petroleum products were spilled from Outer Continental Shelf structures as a result of damage caused by Katrina. Mitchell was interviewing former senators and current energy industry lobbyists Trent Lott (R-MS) and John Breaux (D-LA) when Lott falsely asserted: "[W]e didn't have one drop of oil spilt when we had the biggest hurricane in, you know, recent history, Hurricane Katrina."
As Media Matters for America noted, Mitchell previously failed to challenge Sen. Richard Burr's (R-NC) false assertion that "there wasn't a drop" of oil spilled in the Gulf of Mexico due to Category 5 hurricanes, which he made on the June 24 edition of MSNBC Live. In fact, the 2007 report prepared for the Minerals Management Service by the international consulting firm Det Norske Veritas found that in the case of the two most recent Category 5 hurricanes, Katrina and Rita, "124 spills were reported with a total volume of roughly 17,700 barrels of total petroleum products."
The report included the following chart of statistics on spills from Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) structures related to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita:
Further, while Mitchell did say of Lott and Breaux, "I know both of you now lobby on energy issues -- full disclosure there," she did not note that both lobby on behalf of oil companies, nor did she interview anyone representing environmental or consumer interests, who can also be said to "lobby on energy issues." Lott and Breaux are registered to lobby Congress on behalf of Shell Oil Co. on "offshore oil and gas development" issues, while advocating that the ban on offshore drilling be lifted. They are also registered to lobby on behalf of Plains Exploration & Production Co. (PXP). According to its website, PXP "is an independent oil and gas company primarily engaged in the activities of acquiring, developing, exploring and producing oil and gas in its core areas of operation: California, Rockies, Haynesville/North Louisiana, Gulf Coast, Gulf of Mexico, Texas Panhandle, South Texas and the Permian Basin of the United States." As Media Matters noted, Mitchell previously interviewed Lott and Breaux on the June 9 edition of MSNBC Live without disclosing their ties to oil and gas companies.
Mitchell ended the July 15 interview by saying, "All right. Trent Lott, John Breaux, from the oil patch."
From the 1 p.m. ET hour of MSNBC Live on July 15:
MITCHELL: So, let's bring in former senators Trent Lott and John Breaux -- political adversaries, at one point, but partners, business partners now. Thanks for joining us.
MITCHELL: Now, energy is a big area of disagreement between the two candidates. I know both of you now lobby on energy issues -- full disclosure there. But what about Barack Obama's opposition to offshore drilling? The American people seem to be moving more in that direction, and I suspect he personally would as well.
BREAUX: Well, I would strongly recommend that he reconsider that position. I disagree with it obviously coming from an energy-producing state, the Gulf of Mexico. We've shown that for the last 60 years, you can do it safely. You can develop all natural, domestic resources here in the United States, and it can be done safely. The last spill they talk about was in 1969, the Santa Barbara oil spill. Technology is totally different.
So I would hope he would recognize you have to have a balanced approach. Alternatives, yes, but you also have to develop our own resources here in this country.
LOTT: Well, and, you know, one point, since we're both from the Gulf area. We didn't have one drop of oil spilt when we had the biggest hurricane in, you know, recent history, Hurricane Katrina. And some people say, "Oh, we shouldn't drill, or we shouldn't build more refineries, we shouldn't build more nuclear plants because it would take seven years, 10 years." Well, yeah, and we should get started. We should have started 10 years ago.
We passed a bill that would have opened up ANWR 10 years ago, and President Clinton vetoed it. So, I think that the American people now are saying, "Look, do whatever's necessary. Do it all, and do it now." But do it safely and environmentally wisely. Nobody wants to, you know, unnecessarily endanger pristine areas. But I think the feeling is, we are very much at risk in the energy area to foreign oil, and we've got to do something about it.
MITCHELL: All right. Trent Lott, John Breaux, from the oil patch. Thank you very much.