On Monday, Fox News aired what — even by their practically non-existent standards — was a thoroughly ridiculous interview with “Michael Brown, who lost his job as director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency for mishandling the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005 – days after President Bush’s now-famous televised attaboy, “Brownie, you’re doing a heckuva job.””
Brownie cooked up the kind of conspiracy theory that you might get if you isolated the active ingredients of Michele Bachmann‘s lunacy, and Glenn Beck‘s and Rush Limbaugh‘s, and managed to induce them to interbreed and reproduce.
In Brownie’s universe, President Obama deliberately allowed BP’s epic oil spill from the Deepwater Horizon oil rig to get completely out of hand before starting to take remedial action, just so that he would have an excuse to wriggle out of his commitment to bless the resumption of offshore drilling. (That would be the commitment that, as far as anyone can tell, President Obama made of his own free will in the first place.)
“Brownie” has a heckuva conspiracy theory blaming President Obama for the Gulf oil spill’s spread, and its airing had the White House and Fox News scrapping again on Tuesday.
This round is rooted in the network’s broadcast on Monday of an interview with Michael Brown, who lost his job as director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency for mishandling the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005 – days after President Bush’s now-famous televised attaboy, “Brownie, you’re doing a heckuva job.”
In an interview, Mr. Brown told Neil Cavuto that Mr. Obama delayed getting engaged after the April 20 explosion at a BP drilling rig — beyond the Coast Guard’s initial response — due to “pure politics.” Mr. Brown said the president needed an excuse to retreat from his recent proposal to allow some offshore oil drilling, an initiative that Mr. Obama had hoped would win Republican support for energy legislation but which instead angered many environmentalists and Democrats.
“This president has never supported Big Oil, he’s never supported offshore drilling and now he’s got an excuse to shut it back down,” Mr. Brown said. Citing reports that the oil slick could hit Louisiana’s coast and then travel up the East Coast, he added, “This is exactly what they want because now he can pander to the environmentalists and say, ‘I’m going to shut it down because it’s too dangerous.’”
Mr. Cavuto did not question Mr. Brown’s charge, and Mr. Brown did not offer substantiation.
That’s not the most ridiculous part of the story, though; this is. At Tuesday’s White House press corps briefing, Fox correspondent Wendell Goler — who sounded prettty damn confused — wanted Press Secretary Robert Gibbs to explain to him what Brownie’s “attribution” for the story was. Gibbs took the proferred lemons, and proceeded to make lemonade with glee:
Q But it wasn’t just FOX calling this your Katrina.
MR. GIBBS: No, no, but FOX had the very special and unique interview with Michael Brown — you opened it and I had to do it — who for those who weren’t let in on the big secret, Mr. Brown, FEMA Director Brown under Katrina, intimated on FOX, and it wasn’t — I will editorially say, didn’t appear to be pushed back on real hard — that this spill was leaked on purpose in order for us to walk back our environmental and drilling decisions, and that the leak that we did on purpose got out of control and now is too big to contain.
So suffice to say, Wendell –
Q What is his attribution? What is his — Mr. Brown’s attribution?
MR. GIBBS: I can only wish that the network that you work for had asked that prior to interviewing him yesterday.
Q But reporters in here asked that.
MR. GIBBS: Well, you should –
Q So I’m asking you –
MR. GIBBS: You should call headquarters, my friend, and –
Q I’m asking you –
MR. GIBBS: — ask for somebody who makes the decisions to put people like that — because I got to tell you, Wendell, I’m not entirely sure that a factual answer that I might give to any one of your questions is going to change the notion that your network put out the former FEMA director to make an accusation that the well had been purposely set off in order to change an offshore drilling decision.
I’ve looked at it from every possible angle, but Wendell Goler’s “What is his attribution? What is his — Mr. Brown’s attribution?” seems to make sense only if he hadn’t heard about the interview at all, if he actually thought that Brownie must have provided some attribution.
So, one, it looks like Wendell Goler lives in a universe of perpetual night. In other words, a universe where the sun don’t shine.
Two, a veteran Fox News correspondent, who’s been with them some fourteen years, couldn’t possibly imagine that even Fox News would have allowed Brownie to air his lunatic theory without some kind of sourcing or attribution.
That’s how far Fox News has fallen from any notion of professional standards. Even their own guys can’t believe they’re pulling the stuff they’re pulling.