Fox News Argued Getting Off Of OPEC Oil With Alternative Fuels Was ‘A National Security Issue’. Then Obama Won.

by Shauna Theel, reposted from Media Matters

Last week, GM announced that it is temporarily halting production of the Chevrolet Volt, its plug-in hybrid vehicle. Fox News is reveling in the news, repeatedly airing a parody commercial that mocks the Volt and distorts its safety record, including on The O’Reilly Factor.

But only a few years ago, Bill O’Reilly was singing a different tune about advanced vehicles that reduce our vulnerability to gas price spikes, and the government’s role in incentivizing them. In 2008, O’Reilly suggested the government “mandate by law” that auto companies increase production of electric and flex fuel cars (which can run on 85% ethanol), and provide tax exemptions for flex fuel vehicles. Take a look at the contrast between O’Reilly’s attitude towards alternative fuel cars before and after President Obama’s inauguration:

O’Reilly wasn’t the only Fox figure with a more favorable opinion of alternative fuel cars in 2008, when the Bush administration was the one giving tax credits for alternative fuel and electric cars. In November 2008, Sean Hannity lectured a guest: “I don’t see why you don’t praise G.M. for what they are doing with their electric cars and hybrids.” And in December 2008, Greta Van Susteren asked a GM executive “when are you going to change your cars? Because I mean, like, since the early ’70s, we know that fuel has been a problem” (via Nexis transcripts).

Today, you’re more likely to hear Neil Cavuto attacking the Volt at every opportunity and other Fox anchors, including O’Reilly, recklessly distorting the safety of the Volt.

Contrary to the prevailing media narrative about low consumer interest in the Volt, electric car sales in 2011 were significantly higher than first year hybrid sales even in the midst of an economic downturn and without climate legislation. The Volt has received several awards including 2011 Motor Trend Car of the Year, and just this week was named European Car of the Year.

Despite its promise, Volt sales have been stifled in part by negative media backlash toward the car, especially from Fox. As GM’s CEO said in January, “We did not design the Volt to become a political punching bag and that’s what it’s become” (via Climate Progress).

Perhaps it’s time to remind Fox that the Chevy Volt is a “Win for The Home Team,” as Wall Street Journal auto columnist Dan Neil wrote in 2010:

A lot of people don’t like GM because: 1) the bailout, or 1a) Obama; or 2) the United Auto Workers; or 3) because some Monte Carlo or Cutlass Sierra or deuce-and-a-quarter left them walking a long time ago. That’s understandable. These are sour times. But for the moment, we should suspend our rancor and savor a little American pride. A bunch of Midwestern engineers in bad haircuts and cheap wristwatches just out-engineered every other car company on the planet. And they did it in 29 months while the company they worked for was falling apart around them.

— Shuana Theel is a researcher with Media Matters for America. This piece was originally published at Media Matters.

11 Responses to Fox News Argued Getting Off Of OPEC Oil With Alternative Fuels Was ‘A National Security Issue’. Then Obama Won.

  1. Sasparilla says:

    What a great piece Shuana.

    I had no idea what a direct flip flop Fox had done on this issue.

  2. Tim says:

    Media Matters point is dead-on here, but one detail in your post should be corrected. Some of those O’Reilly clips were broadcast after Obama won (Nov. 17, 2008). It is just that FOX hadn’t gotten its orders from Exxon-Mobil and the Koch brothers yet – hence the delay in switching the party line.

  3. Leif says:

    I think it is time for GM to sue FOX, big time, for lost sales!

  4. Mike Roddy says:

    Koch and Exxon money will end up destroying the Republican party, with its constant salutes to the oil companies and stubborn global warming denial. Fox is just following orders.

    It won’t be that long before people wake up, and people like Boehner and McConnell are going to have a hard time talking their way out of it. Another right wing party will replace them, but they are now on their way to boutique status, as woman hating, land despoiling, warmongering policies become just too loathsome.

    David Koch won’t care, since his Tea Party/Republican idealism is phony. All he and his brother ever cared about is bringing their cash bankroll to $100 billion and beyond, quite possible as oil prices keep going up. It’s not even the money, really, but rather their egos. Quite pitiful, and it’s our fault. They should be in prison, not getting fawned over by politicians and journalists.

  5. Sasparilla says:

    So well said Mike. I wish we didn’t have to wait so long for them to fall out of the mainstream far enough to have election result consequences (i.e. like loose control of the House).

  6. Johnny says:

    Nice article. I absolutely love my Volt and would pay double for it! Most detractors haven’t even seen the Volt much less driven one.

  7. Mark Shapiro says:

    Rather, remind everyone that Fox/Murdoch/Ailes are anti-American, anti-GM, anti-worker, anti-middle class, anti-clean air, and pro-foreign oil.

    But not necessarily anti-apple pie.

    And other than that, they are merely vile (but not all the time).

  8. Mike 22 says:

    That reminds me, how is Bill’s quest for solar panel installers going?

  9. Lewis W. says:

    There was a piece on here where about a dozen (possibly more) installers in New York offered to quote on his project.

  10. Lewis W. says:

    I wanted a Volt as I moved on from my 16 year old ride but it just wasn’t in my price range.

  11. Byron Smith says:

    A related video showing Fox’s coverage of oil prices in 2008: