The Oklahoman Obama Obsession

Image of Walter Cronkite

In less than a week, the editorial board of the state’s largest newspaper has published three asinine commentaries criticizing President Barack Obama while offering not a shred of rebuttal or an extensive differing viewpoint.

The three editorials by The Oklahoman, simply signed with the innocuous byline “The Oklahoman Editorial Board,” show not only how the monopoly newspaper is one of the most biased corporate publications in the world but also how sophomoric, reductionist and anachronistic its editorial page remains in the twenty-first century.

The newspaper is legitimately and obviously obsessed with its hatred of the first African American president in American history. Why? He’s a lame-duck president with two years remaining in office. Republicans now have majorities in the House and Senate. Surely, the newspaper should begin its Hillary-hate at this point, right? What’s the point of rousing the low-information villagers who actually subscribe to this awful newspaper and believe in its one-sided hateful views against Obama right now? With its documented past of hate and bias against minorities under the late publisher Edward L. Gaylord, it’s not difficult to see it as the lingering vestiges of racism. What else could it be?

On Nov. 14, the newspaper published an editorial, “The president’s misplaced priorities, outdated solutions,” that argues the president support for “net neutrality,” which essentially would prevent large, corporate Internet providers from ripping off people by charging them more, perhaps even doubling or tripling prices, is somehow a non-issue and shouldn’t be Obama’s concern. As the headline argues, it’s “misplaced.” The editorial goes on to argue that people just don’t care about it. While it might be true that not many people are paying attention to the issue right now, as the editorial argues, they sure would care about it when their Internet bill went up in price in a major way. What makes this an especially dumb editorial is that the issue has the potential in the future of hurting, the newspaper’s website, if Internet providers jacked up prices to view videos.

But, then, The Oklahoman has one business model: Use its monopoly to shut down competition and progressive political dissent until newspapers its size and caliber close down. Does anyone here really think its current owner, billionaire energy mogul Philip Anschutz, really cares about people here in Oklahoma or even if the newspaper even flourishes commercially? Isn’t this simply a hobby for the reclusive, right-wing member of the 1 percent.

On Nov. 17, the newspaper published an editorial, “Legacy-building phase underway for Obama presidency,” which produced this rhetorically bizarre gem:

Obama’s visit to China and the wearing of that weird Star Trek costume (or whatever it was) produced a pen-and-phone style agreement for the United States to cut carbon dioxide emissions. This is an exercise in legacy-building. Obama will spend much of his last two years in office beating the drum for global warming remediation.

Note the sarcasm over the Chinese-styled shirt that many leaders of the summit wore one time as a gesture of unity and graciousness for the host country. The newspaper’s criticism of this minor act is a blatant case of xenophobia and, yes, I will say it over and over, just downright racism. People do wear different styles of clothing in different parts of the world or have traditional clothing. How does one even begin to teach students about the world in this place when the state’s largest newspaper makes fun of the way people dress in other countries? Why doesn’t the newspaper just publish an editorial urging Oklahoma children to make fun of kids in other countries that don’t dress like them? It’s called ignorance and bullying.

The point of the editorial is that it's wrong for Obama to try to build the historical legacy of his presidency through making progress on global warming by reducing manmade carbon emissions. The Oklahoman editorial board is a longtime supporter of Oklahoma’s U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, who calls global warming a hoax and a left-wing scientist conspiracy, so why not just leave it at that? We know The Oklahoman editorial board doesn’t privilege science. So what’s the point of the entire “legacy-building” thing and the xenophobia and racism unless that’s the real point? It’s all just about bashing Obama with racist undertones.

On Nov. 19, the newspaper published an editorial, “Opposition to Obamacare not likely to subside,” which argues, against growing evidence, that the Affordable Care Act is an “albatross for Democrats.” Note the newspaper’s use of the word “Obamacare,” which Republicans have made part of the American lexicon. Here’s the key paragraph for the point I’m making:

So long as Obama is president, Jacobs is correct to predict no fundamental Obamacare changes will become law. And GOP infighting could stymie even modest amendments. That won’t mean Obamacare is increasingly popular. The law has been an electoral albatross for Democrats since its passage. There’s little reason to think this dynamic will change any time soon.

Yes, folks, isn’t it terrible Obama won’t deny health care to the millions upon millions of people who now have insurance and regular medical care? The editorial is preposterous. Its only point is to denigrate the president in any way whatsoever without allowing an appropriate, sustained rebuttal. Obama, Obama, Obama. Bad, bad, bad. WE GET IT ALREADY.

Here’s how the newspaper describes its editorial board:

The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Gary Pierson, President and CEO of The Oklahoma Publishing Company; Christopher P. Reen, president and publisher of The Oklahoman; Kelly Dyer Fry, editor and vice president of news; Christy Gaylord Everest, member at large; J.E. McReynolds, Opinion editor; Owen Canfield III. chief editorial writer; and Ray Carter, editorial writer.

Let’s be clear: The Oklahoman editorial page is shameful and craven. Its continued obsession with Obama is truly borderline psychotic and can obviously been seen as racist. Those who perpetuate it by creating or approving its nonsensical content do a grave disservice to the residents in this state and to the quality of life here. In addition, the newspaper’s decision to NOT allow consistent dissenting views to its one-sided arguments is a classic reason why we need better journalistic standards in this country.

Hamm On Keystone Pipeline: “Not Relevant”

Image of Harold Hamm

What are the Republicans and The Oklahoman editorial board going to do now that local oil baron Harold Hamm has called the northern segment of the Keystone XL pipeline “not relevant”?

The GOP and the right-wing newspaper have lambasted President Barack Obama for delaying action to approve he construction of the pipeline, which would essentially move Canadian-produced oil to the Gulf coast. They made it a campaign issue in the recent election, and a recent Oklahoman editorial argued Obama “has blocked Keystone at every turn, in a nod to environmentalists.” The editorial’s headline even proclaimed, “Keystone project should be near top of GOP to-do list.”

But Hamm, pictured right, the founder and chief executive officer of the energy company Continental Resources in Oklahoma City, recently had this to say to Politico about the pipeline: “It’s not relevant at all in my opinion. And here we are making it relevant now? Forget it.” That was only a few days after The Oklahoman published its editorial.

Hamm has bonafide GOP credentials. He served as an energy advisor to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in his failed 2012 campaign. So why is he trying to interfere with the conservative mojo right after an election with major gains by Republicans on the national level?

Partially, it’s just plain logic. The pipeline just isn’t as necessary for American interests as the GOP has let on. But it’s mainly about business. There’s a world oil glut, and prices are dropping. Hamm said, “If we have an … oil oversupply looking at us, do we need more Canadian oil here? Probably not.”

While it’s true the construction of the pipeline would create jobs, as The Oklahoman has argued, those job would only be temporary, and the potential for environmental damage would remain high during and after the pipeline’s construction.

In essence, the pipeline is yet another GOP issue like Obamacare that is only used as a cudgel to criticize Obama. (New York Times columnist Paul Krugman wrote about this conservative tactic today.) If the pipeline was built, and the oil glut deepened further, it could hurt the economy in Oklahoma as the fracking boom here goes bust. Somehow, The Oklahoman finds this acceptable, right? Well, probably not. It just wants to bash Obama for any reason whatsoever, even if it becomes “not relevant.”

The billionaire Hamm did tell Politico that the pipeline should have been built six years ago, but wouldn’t that have tempered the fracking boom in Oklahoma and Texas? Hamm’s position on the pipleine, of course, comes from his own company’s perspective and interests. Continental has been a big player in the Bakken shale formation in North Dakota.

It will be interesting to note what impact Hamm’s statements will have on the GOP and its right-wing noise machine, which includes The Oklahoman editorial page. Will they persist with criticism of Obama over the issue and still support the “drill, baby, drill” philosophy, which has created an environmentally unsound fracking boom in several states and produced an oil glut? Have the Republicans, once again, lost one of their specious fear-mongering issues because common sense eventually prevailed under the Obama administration?

Back To The Bluster

Image of Jim Inhofe from TPM

Get ready for at least two more years of political blustering and stunts over climate change from Oklahoma’s U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, who is expected to become chair again of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Inhofe, the ranking Republican on the EPW Committee, has wasted no time getting back into his contentious groove, and, in his new position, he will have no problem getting all the media attention he craves. This week, for example, he lambasted President Barack Obama for signing an agreement with Chinese President Xi Jinping to reduce greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. It was widely reported.

According to Inhofe, the agreement is a “non-binding charade” and vows to fight the White House on new rules governing polluting emissions from power plants in this country. Inhofe is infamous for calling global warming a hoax and a left-wing conspiracy among scientists.

Of course, Inhofe misses the point that the agreement is supposed to be viewed on the world stage as a important symbolic gesture. How we monitor and measure a decline in carbon emissions over the years will always be problematic. What’s important is that there’s a discussion among important world leaders about climate change. For example, the agreement has spurred new discussions among Canadian government officials about curbing greenhouse gas emissions, according to a news report. That’s one of the points of such agreements between countries.

Under the agreement, the United States would reduce its carbon emissions by 26 to 28 percent by 2025. China would cap its emissions by 2030 and commit to generating 20 percent of its energy from non fossil fuels sources by 2030.

China and the United States account for 45 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The agreement is ambitious, but it doesn’t mean it can’t be implemented in good faith. Any reduction in carbon emissions would be good for the planet. Right now, global warming threatens the world’s eco systems, and, in the future, rising sea levels due to climate change could wreak havoc on major coastal cites throughout the world. This could lead to major population migrations and severely depressed economies never experienced before.

It’s no secret that Inhofe will stand in the way of progress on reducing carbon emissions. As I have written before, most media outlets when reporting on Inhofe’s latest rage against Obama or environmentalists or climate scientists fail to note that he has received more than $1.7 million in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry in his political career, according to Inhofe is a de facto spokesperson for fossil-fuel profiteers and represents a state that is experiencing a major energy boom because of hydraulic fracturing or fracking. The fact that Inhofe’s financial ties to the oil and gas industry often go unmentioned is a testament to how the corporate media has complacently accepted and implicitly endorsed the role of big money in our political process.

I expect a political correction on a national level in the 2016 elections. Starting in 2015, however, Republicans will control the Senate and House for two years, and they are indicating they plan to block and stonewall any White House proposals, even to the point of shutting down the government. Inhofe will be a part of this onslaught when it comes to climate change. It’s apparent already the Republicans will overreach and remind voters of the George W. Bush presidency, which was a debacle of right-wing extremism, but that’s not going to make it any easier to stomach.

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