"ABC News Still Fumbling Fisker Automotive Story"
by Jocelyn Fong, in a Media Matters cross-post
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.
Instead, ABC’s article — which quotes Mitt Romney saying “the U.S. government shouldn’t be playing venture capitalist” — is titled, “Republicans Call for Probe of Obama’s Green Car Program.”
ABC’s Brian Ross also said on Nightline that there “are serious questions about whether the billion dollars of taxpayer money the Obama administration has invested in electric car start-ups are worth the risk.” And on World News with Diane Sawyer last night, Ross stated: “The bottom line is that all these green program start ups are risky by their very nature.” But not a word on the origin of the program, which, of course, was designed to support projects that carry some risk and might otherwise not be able to secure adequate financing.
— Joceyln Fong is a researcher with Media Matters. You can find all of Media Matters stellar coverage of Fisker Automotive and Solyndra here.