CBS Favors Obama in Segment on Candidates' Energy Proposals

     The Barack Obama presidential campaign couldn’t have scripted it better themselves.

     The August 4 “CBS Evening News” gave a gleaming account of the energy plan Obama unveiled earlier in the day. Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain got the opposite same treatment.

     CBS correspondent Dean Reynolds unquestioningly touted several of Obama’s proposals in a segment comparing the candidates’ energy plans. But Reynolds applied a higher level of scrutiny to McCain’s positions, offering rebuttals to each of the Republican candidate’s statements or even giving Obama’s critique. One response even used a clip of an Obama commercial.

     “Today Barack Obama unveiled a plan for relief at the pump that uses a tax on windfall oil profits to provide an immediate $1,000 per family tax rebate,” CBS correspondent Dean Reynolds said. “That envisions hybrids getting 150 miles to the gallon, that promotes renewable resources and ends oil imports in a decade.”

     “But there are also two major policy shifts,” Reynolds noted. “Once against using the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve to increase supplies, Obama now says he's willing to cut a deal.”

     The report didn’t challenge the Obama position. However, CNBC “Fast Money” host Dylan Rattigan was doubtful about the plausibility of Obama’s proposal as a solution. He compared it to the recent economic stimulus.

     “That’s madness – utter madness,” Rattigan said on MSNBC’s August 5 “Morning Joe.” “Another version of a short-term solution to a long-term problem – taking $1,000, quite honestly, from anybody as far as I can tell at this point and giving it to anybody else for any reason will solve absolutely nothing.”

     CBS’s Reynolds also suggested, as the Obama campaign has, that McCain is in the pocket of oil executives. Their rationale is because he changed his position on offshore drilling after the price of oil exceeded $120 a barrel, and subsequently received contributions from oil company executives.

     “Like Obama, John McCain once opposed offshore oil drilling, but switched a few weeks ago, and a short time later received more than a million dollars in campaign donations from the oil and gas industry, as a new Obama ad notes,” Reynolds said.

     His segment didn’t mention the flaws in the ad, or that Obama has also received some $400,000 in campaign contributions from oil executives.

     Reynolds cited a statistic often used by drilling naysayers – a Department of Energy statistic that said it would take 10 years to see the effect – to criticize McCain’s support for increased domestic drilling options.

     “But that’s too optimistic, according to the Department of Energy, which says it will take nearly a decade to get results from new drilling,” Reynolds said.

     However, polls indicate Americans want more offshore drilling, a detail the CBS report ignored. A June Zogby poll indicated 74 percent of Americans support offshore drilling in U.S. coastal waters.