Media Ignore OPEC's 'Toying' with Oil Output

     An official within an international oil cartel recently suggested calling an “emergency meeting” to arrange for oil production cuts in an attempt to drive up the price of oil. Although the move follows a smaller production cutback by OPEC member states Venezuela and Nigeria in late September, the mainstream broadcast media have paid little if any attention to the development.   


     “We are toying with the idea of an emergency meeting,” Nigerian oil minister Edmund Daukoru was quoted in an October 5 BBC News article, adding that other OPEC members “agree that something needs to be done” to bring up slipping oil prices.


     Almost a week earlier, The New York Times’s Jad Mouawad reported in the September 30 paper about the “modest move” by Nigeria and Venezuela to curb oil output. Mouawad reported that oil traders “initially shrugged off” the news but that “contradictory statements from senior OPEC representatives have raised doubts about the oil cartel’s strategy.”


     Yet From September 29 through October 5, none of the broadcast networks reported on OPEC’s oil production considerations, and CNN reported on OPEC only once, on the October 3 “Anderson Cooper 360,” according to a Nexis search.


     In contrast to its lack of coverage of the oil cartel – of which Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are members – CNN toyed with the idea of a Republican conspiracy to lower gasoline prices at least three times recently.


    As the Business & Media Institute reported, on the August 30 “Situation Room” and the September 2 “In the Money,” anchor Jack Cafferty entertained the conspiracy theory that oil company executives were driving down gasoline prices to boost Republicans in the November elections.


     “I mean, the oil companies have a vested interest in seeing that the Republicans remain in control of the federal government,” Cafferty told “In the Money” panelist Jennifer Westhoven.


     In March, the Business & Media Institute published a study showing that while the media routinely criticize oil executives for alleged greed, Venezuela’s Chavez has gotten a pass from the media, with little critical coverage. For example, of 139 Chavez-related news stories from 1998 to early 2006, only four stories mentioned that Citgo is wholly owned by Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, and only 14 stories mentioned human rights abuses by the dictator.