Defending Obama, NYT's Broder Hits Mitt for Attacking Obama's Call for Higher Gas Prices: 'Unsubstantiated...Misleading'

New York Times energy reporter John Broder, who is notoriously receptive to climate-change hysteria and dismissive of skeptical arguments, played defense for President Obama in Tuesday's "Obama Energy Policies Differ From Romney's Portrayal." The online headline is harsher: "Romney Misleads on Obama and Energy Prices." But did he really?

Note: The link goes to an online version of the story that is significantly altered from the story that appeared in print Tuesday morning, from which this text comes:

In a television interview on Sunday and a Web video released on Monday, Mitt Romney said that President Obama has sought higher gasoline and energy prices and called on the president to dismiss three cabinet officers Mr. Romney claims have abetted him.

But the assertion is largely unsubstantiated or misleading, as are other statements Mr. Romney has made in recent days about Obama administration policies.

On Fox News on Sunday, Mr. Romney said of Mr. Obama, “Well, there’s no question that when he ran for office, he said he wanted to see gasoline prices go up.”

The Romney campaign did not provide any documentation for the charge, but it appears to have arisen from a June 2008 interview then-Senator Obama did with CNBC, when gasoline prices of about $4 a gallon were a huge political issue, as they are now. In that interview, Mr. Obama said prices had risen too quickly, putting strain on the finances of many families. He did not endorse high prices.

“I think that I would have preferred a gradual adjustment,” Mr. Obama said. “The fact that this is such a shock to American pocketbooks is not a good thing. But if we take some steps right now to help people make the adjustment, first of all by putting more money into their pockets, but also by encouraging the market to adapt to these new circumstances more quickly, particularly U.S. automakers, then I think ultimately, we can come out of this stronger and have a more efficient energy policy than we do right now.”

But there's nothing there or in the next citation that refutes the idea Obama wanted prices to go higher, merely that he "would have preferred a gradual adjustment."

Mr. Romney also cited a comment from a 2008 interview in which Mr. Obama said that under a strict cap-and-trade program to address climate change, energy prices would “necessarily skyrocket.” After becoming president, Mr. Obama endorsed a House Democratic climate-change bill that contained numerous provisions to limit the costs to consumers.

But the MRC's Brent Baker found a more-to-the-point clip from 2007 that Broder passed over, in which candidate Obama predicted "I think it is important for us to send some price signals, to change behavior" and that “it's not going to be painless....a lot of us who can afford are going to have to pay more per unit of electricity” to cover the higher cost of “green” energy production.

Broder reluctantly admitted that Obama's energy secretary did want gas prices to rise to European levels, but still gave him cover:

Steven Chu, the energy secretary, did say in 2008 – before he was nominated to the cabinet – that gasoline prices in the United States should rise to the levels of Europe (about $8 a gallon) to encourage conservation and alternative transport. But Mr. Chu edged away from that comment in his confirmation hearings and disavowed it entirely last week.