Saturday, June 03, 2006

Corporate Media on Oil

It is generally believed that media, as a trustworthy dissemination subsidiary of knowledge, is an independent source of factual information whose purpose is to inform public about current issues based on widest possible range of opinions in an objective way.

However, Corporate Media more and more influences the way people perceive things. It does it by hiding the facts (denial); by showing something else (deception) and by distorting the stories and statistics (manipulation). It crafts and makes news in such a way that the end message hits our survival needs and feelings.

A slide on the US Department of Defense website shows how media can be used as a tool to spread disinformation. It identifies four steps to be followed: First, intelligence service makes covert press placements, and then the story is published in sympathetic media, which is shortly replayed by official sources. Finally, the end result is picked by mainstream media.

“Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle. The real extent of this state of misinformation is known only to those who are in situations to confront facts within their knowledge with the lies of the day” Thomas Jefferson (Letter to John Norvell Washington, June 14, 1807)

It has been much easier to manipulate than to change, and to play on an existing fear or concern than to create a new fear or concern. Now, corporate media uses both in its stories about world oil market.

“A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on”
Sir Winston Churchill

Most corporate media journalists love to use jargon, especially if they don’t believe or know what they are saying. But they force us to believe that oil prices are determined by supply and demand fundamentals. When they realize that movements in oil prices are not justified by the oil market fundamentals they use the words like fears/concerns/worries (in cases when prices dropped) and hopes/expectations (when prices increased). Watch out the sentences starting with the word “traders” to observe that.

Those journalists love to talk about the tightness in oil market by presenting some shaky spare capacity, supply and demand statistics, which are mostly estimates or best guesses. World oil statistics are very far from perfect. Even if some statisticians still do their best, lack of resources has buried them under the fundamentals. Market fundamentals are almost dead!

Still, journalists love to call OPEC as an evil cartel and attack it on the grounds that its members do not extract enough oil. And yet, they mostly fail to remind that the US is the third largest oil producer in the world. By the way, have you ever heard of once famous “International Petroleum Cartel” case investigating whether international oil companies were acting like a cartel in 1950s, which lasted more than 10 years with no conclusion?

Neither do they question the role of speculators, depreciation of the US dollar, rumors, and gossips.

But they love to look for other scapegoats. Oh, these authoritarians, undemocratic corrupt oil producing countries with their populist dictators! They either consume too much oil or do not invest enough to increase their production and spare capacities.

In other words, countries whose incomes depend on natural resources should finance or subsidize the patriotic consumption of Americans, thinking cheap oil is their birthright.

Recently corporate media has started a coordinated attack against companies partly or wholly owned by the governments in oil and gas producing countries. It presented Russian Gazprom and Chinese CNOOC as if they are completely owned by the state. In fact, only 38.37% of Gazprom shares are owned by Russian government, and 70% of CNOOC belong to Chinese government.

But corporate media was extremely quiet about some companies of “free market” economies: 80.2% of Gaz de France (France); 31.5% of OMV (Austria); 70.9% Statoil (Norway); 20.31% of ENI (Italy) are owned by their state.

While most developed countries are busy creating national champions through mergers and acquisitions; their politicians push natural resource rich countries to liberalize, privatize their companies and give open access to international oil companies.

What an irony. Do what I say but do not do what I do!

If you resist, then they come up with another slogan. You are either with us or against us.

Remember Joseph McCarthy communism hysteria in the US in 1954s? Let us look at what legendary journalist Edward R. Murrow reported in his “See it Now” broadcast of 9 March 1954 on CBS: If none of us ever read a book that was "dangerous," had a friend who was "different," or joined an organization that advocated "change," we would all be just the kind of people Joe McCarthy wants.

We want to believe that there still exist several journalists like Murray in corporate media who report the naked truth.
======================== ANNEX ======================
Beware of Oil Dummies

Washington Post published an article by Alvaro Vargas Llosa entitled “Beware of Oil Pundits” on June 2, 2006. At the time I posted my article above that Washington Post was waiting on my desk to be read.

It was a perfect example of corporate media oil propaganda. That is why, instead of posting another piece, I just add it as an annex.

The Post Article deserves a harsh critic for each word it contains.
As the saying goes tell me whom you admire and I tell you who you are. She designates Thomas Friedman and Steve Forbes as two of the brightest people around. Right at the beginning she shows her color.

“Forbes advocates preventing foreign despots from continuing to make a killing on oil by reducing the amount of money in the system…and Friedman argues that high oil prices undermine basic liberties by empowering despots in oil-rich nations.” The world has witnessed what like her minded people have been doing since 2001.

According to her the main factor driving oil prices higher is a simple case of supply and demand. This is what you can expect from someone who has no clue about oil market.
After accusing China for its oil thirst, and Venezuelan government for incompetence, she states that windfall income obtained by tyrants enhances their power at the expense of their people's freedom. ….and we have been witnessing what they mean with freedom.

“Those who espouse clever government-led solutions to high oil prices should bear in mind that new discoveries have outpaced consumption for a number of years, but too much bureaucratic interference has hampered supply.”

Probably she is the only one in the world who believes such a ridiculous statements.

“Half of Europe's motorists already use diesel fuel, but the lack of refining capacity to turn heavy crude into diesel has made the rest of the world rely a lot more on light crude, pushing up its price.”

What a logic!

“And, of course, supply would be higher if almost 80 percent of oil reserves did not belong to incompetent government-owned companies around the world, such as in Russia, Sudan and Nigeria.”

I cannot believe that she can be that stupid.

“At current prices, you can be sure that fresh capital is going into oil and the corresponding increase in supply will eventually moderate prices -- not to mention the fact that new capital will also tend to go to alternative energy sources.”

Another perfect example of people who believe that money can create oil.

Alvaro Vargas Llosa, author of the article, please keep writing on the subjects you supposedly know something and do not poke your nose into oil, it is getting dirty.

And Washington Post, thank you for saving my time. It took only 3 minutes to find an example article which contained most of claims in my previous post.


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