by Shauna Theel, via Media Matters
Donald Trump recently declared on CNBC that “Saudi Arabia is doing Obama a big fat favor” by increasing oil production in order to bring gasoline prices down, and that if Obama is re-elected the “favor will be repaid many times over.” Fox Nation took this conspiracy even further, calling it a “SECRET SAUDI OIL DEAL TO WIN REELECTION”; Real Clear Politics, Breitbart.com, and Newsmax also promoted Trump’s comments.
This has put conservatives in the bizarre position of claiming that Obama is nefariously lowering gasoline prices in order to help the economy and win re-election, after previously claiming that Obama was trying to raise gas prices.
And the claim that there is a “SECRET” “DEAL” is ridiculous: it is public knowledge that the U.S. has pressured Saudi Arabia to boost its oil output. The administration’s apparent success in doing so undercuts Trump’s previous attack that the Saudis were not ramping up production because Obama was a poor “messenger” or was too busy on “his basketball court” or something.
The Saudis have no incentive to do “Obama a big fat favor” unless it is in their own self-interest. As the Washington Post reported, energy economist Phillip Vergeler believes that Saudi Arabia is trying to “stay in the good graces of United States and Europe” by providing “economic stimulus,” but they are also acting in order to slow down shale production in North America and put pressure on Iran.
Vergeler explained that Saudi Arabia is concerned about Iran’s nuclear program and “The Saudis know that lower [oil] prices are a much better way to put pressure on Iran than sanctions.” And the Wall Street Journal reported that a senior executive at a major oil company believes that Saudi Arabia’s “desire to harm Iran … may trump any budgetary concerns of its own” because the Saudis are able to “run deficits for years without any impairment to their triple A position.” Furthermore, consultant Robert McNally told the Washington Post that “Iranians accuse Saudi Arabia of exploiting sanctions to steal Iran’s market share.”
Sadly, the ramblings of Donald Trump, a man best known for shouting “You’re fired!” at C-list celebrities and generating birtherpalooza, are being put forward by the media as serious political commentary and covered by the broadcast news networks more than climate change.
Shauna Theel is a contributing writer for Media Matters. This piece was originally published at Media Matters and was reprinted with permission.