Must-see TV: CNBC host slams Competitive Enterprise Institute for pushing Jones Act disinformation: “Its offensive to intelligence”

Few septics push anti-science disinformation more flagrantly than those at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (see “Santer, Jones, and Schneider respond to CEI’s phony attack on the temperature record“).

But the MSM isn’t filled with experts on science, so most climate falsehoods from the big-oil-funded group go unchallenged, no matter how offensive they are to people’s intelligence.   On Thursday, however, CEI made so many bogus claims about the federal response to the BP oil disaster that even CNBC anchor Mark Haines couldn’t stomach it.

Wonk Room has the story and must-see video:

Since BP’s oil gusher in the Gulf of Mexico began, a favorite right wing talking point has been that the Jones Act “” a 1920 law stipulating that commerce between U.S. ports needs to occur on U.S. ships “” has been hindering the cleanup effort by forcing the federal government to reject aid from foreign nations. Conservative lawmakers and pundits have been claiming that the Obama administration is refusing to waive the Jones Act out of deference to the will of labor unions.

Earlier this month, McClatchy demolished this meme, reporting that “maritime law experts, government officials and independent researchers say that the claim is false. The Jones Act isn’t an impediment at all, they say, and it hasn’t blocked anything.” But this hasn’t stopped the drumbeat from the right-wing, with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) going so far as to say that aid from 17 countries has been rejected because of the Jones Act. “Due to the Jones Act, these vessels are not permitted in US waters,” he said.

Yesterday, on CNBC, Hans Bader of the Competitive Enterprise Institute repeated this talking point, claiming that there have been several rejections of foreign aid due to the Jones Act. However, he ran into a host who had done his homework, as CNBC’s Mark Haines noted that 68 different offers of foreign cleanup help have been accepted. Haines challenged Bader to cite examples of the Jones Act causing a problem, with predictable results:

HAINES: How many rejections under the Jones Act?

BADER: I don’t know how many.

HAINES: Excuse me, Senator McCarthy, you can’t tell us how many there are? I want the facts, give us hard facts, give us evidence, not innuendo, not baseless accusations, okay? It’s offensive to intelligence. The fact is sir, you have told us there are examples of rejections and you can not name a single one.

Watch it:

Bader eventually cited one Dutch ship that was supposedly turned back due to the Jones Act. So today, Haines was back on the case, pointing out that the Dutch offer had been made before the federal government even knew there was an oil leak, and the rejection was initiated by the EPA. “It was not because of the Jones act, it was not a conspiracy to protect the unions and sacrifice the environment,” he said.

I’m pretty tough on CNBC’s team for spending most of its time shilling for big bank bonuses, tax cheats, predatory lenders, and the ultra-wealthy, while falsely scaremongering about the effects of the Obama administration agenda. But, credit where credit is due, Haines was prepared to call this nonsense for what it is: an attempt to demagogue unions and score political points off an environmental catastrophe.

— Pat Garofalo, in a WR cross-post

h/t CapitalClimate

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12 Responses to Must-see TV: CNBC host slams Competitive Enterprise Institute for pushing Jones Act disinformation: “Its offensive to intelligence”

  1. Steve Bloom says:

    Hey, isn’t CEI Judy Curry’s favorite wingnut think tank?

  2. Colorado Bob says:

    NASA-funded researchers monitoring Greenland’s Jakobshavn Isbrae glacier report that a 7 square kilometer (2.7 square mile) section of the glacier broke up on July 6 and 7, as shown in the image above. The calving front – where the ice sheet meets the ocean – retreated nearly 1.5 kilometers (a mile) in one day and is now further inland than at any time previously observed. The chunk of lost ice is roughly one-eighth the size of Manhattan Island, New York.

  3. Mike says:

    I have been hearing about the Jones Act for a month now. Then today NPR reported what you have reported here. The question is why did not the Obama Administration debunk this immediately?

    See for example:

  4. Raul says:

    OT Now that they have made a improvement to
    the oil skimming ability of the ships with
    the separate skimmer head, they could make
    the skimmer head even more removed and remote
    controlled to collect the oil plumes some.

  5. catman306 says:

    “It’s offensive to intelligence.” Where ‘it’ could be: (partial list)

    climate change denialism
    Tea baggers
    Fossil fuel lobbyists
    right wing talk show personalities
    Wall St. bailouts
    Lying politicians
    health ‘care’
    spin doctors (not the old rock band)
    military torture
    bubbling optimism
    tax cuts for the wealthiest

    Add your own!

  6. Dana says:

    Good reporting, although the cheap shot at the EPA at the end of the story was rather uncalled for. Nevertheless, it’s good to see journalists actually fact-checking the claims made by their interviewees. It happens far too rarely in today’s media.

  7. Ross Hunter says:

    I’m in two minds about it – on the one hand great to have the facts, on the other I hate this whole style of shouting down someone you’re interviewing. That behavior I think does more damage than good.

    I admit I didn’t watch it all the way through, but that was precisely because of the contentious style – I just don’t seek information out of such discussions.

  8. Lore says:

    I’ve watched Mark Haines on MSNBC for sometime and he is one of the rare few there to call out the obvious phonies. The rest of the capitalist enablers for business as usual on that network can be labeled as lapdog toadies for big corporations at their worst.

    He followed up this interview with a point by point on Friday. In which he clarified that the only incidence in which the US denied help from foreign aid during the crisis was the second day after the spill. At which time we were told by BP that it was a minor mishap and under control. Pure political baloney by the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

    Anyone caught in such flagrant misrepresentations of the truth should be set straight in the most honest and forceful way possible. There is little room for being polite to crooks and thieves who strive to misinform public opinion. This not a matter of representing just a bias personal view, but the legitimate and simple facts, enough of the deceit.

  9. TomG says:

    No Ross.
    Sometimes you have to shout them down.
    If you don’t they will go on and on with their bs sorta like that pink rabbit with with the drum.
    Of course any kind of shouting should be backed up with proof and who in this case had this sometimes elusive item?
    But you didn’t watch it all the way through did you?
    Too bad…

  10. Lewis Cleverdon says:

    It’s a particularly telling point that Whitehouse staffers’ incompetence extends even to the point of allowing the Jones Act meme to grow unchallenged for a month – and a further question over the president’s performance in directing his staff –

    Does Rahm E. suffer the delusion that it’s beneath the dignity of staffers to enter the fray when lies are being told about the presidency ? If so, it’s surely past time he ‘resigned.’

    OTOH, perhaps this was a terribly smart ploy to give the AEI time to dig itself a deep hole ? If so, then we should perhaps expect the Whitehouse to continue leaving climate scientists hung out to dry and entirely undefended from political attacks, and to leave the youth vote to collapse between now and November, and to forgoe the present best chance of capping US carbon emissions for the forseeable future ?

    Under this perverse way of thinking, as climate impacts make the truth yet more patently obvious, the president is going to look so very clever for having been right about it, while the deniers will be whining excuses . . . Great. A real kodak moment . . .

    The reality is that Obama will be remembered for the gross culpable negligence of his almost total failure to take even the actions that are readily available to him.
    As a direct result of his gratuitous adoption of the GW-Bush policy of a ‘Brinkmanship of Inaction’ with China, America is now set on course to go down in history as having had lead responsibility for the greatest genocide by serial famines that the world has ever seen.

    Way to go, Barack.



  11. Bob Maginnis says:

    The regulation that a ship can’t discharge oily water should be exempted for oil skimmers. They can’t remove all of it, and the compromise to discharge the water ahead of the oil slick is ridiculous.

  12. djrabbit says:

    Re: #9 TomG. I agree, shut em down like Brian Wilson. Because we’re primarily interested here in the secondary effects: how interview guests (esp. those from spindustry think tanks) and other actors will respond. My guess is these guests will work harder to get their facts straight (no strategic ignorance) and to toe closer to the truth. As a result of this feedback effect, the need for such shut downs will decrease over time.

    And if the media went a step further and stopped inviting proven misinformers like CEI’s Hans Bader back on the air? Just imagine how much less “offensive to intelligence” MSM content would be?

    Re: 10. Mr. Cleverdon. Who do you think provided the supporting research to CNBC? I doubt it was their own slim staff (insert anxieties about the decline of investigative journalism and the rise of press-release media) … more likely it was one of those (very busy) White House staffers that you call incompetence.

    Further, as Pat’s post makes clear, it didn’t take a month to respond at all. She noted that “government officials” and others already debunked the meme earlier this month. This was merely the latest and most high-profile effort to quash this malmeme (analogous to malware). And yet, will this stop the meme from continuing to circulate in the right-wing circles? I wouldn’t bet on it.