This morning Ed wrote about Joe Biden’s comments in last night’s debate about the oil industry. I wanted to highlight some reactions from the media and from within the industry itself. Ed included video of the exchange but in case you missed it, here’s what was said:
Trump: Would you close down the oil industry?
Biden: By the way, I would transition from the oil industry, yes. I would transition.
Trump: Oh, that is a big statement.
Biden: It is a big statement.
Welker: Why would you do that?
Biden: Because the oil industry pollutes significantly.
Biden added, “I’d stop giving to the oil industry, I’d stop giving them federal subsidies.” Later his campaign tried to clean up his remarks a bit with a focus on that last part.
Biden's team seeks to clarify Biden's remarks on the oil industry, with @KBeds saying that Biden was referring to ending oil subsidies.
— Annie Linskey (@AnnieLinskey) October 23, 2020
And then Biden himself tried to clear it up:
Biden was also asked after the debate about his answers tonight on fossil fuels. “We’re not going to get rid of fossil fuels,” he said. “We’re going to get rid of subsidies for fossil fuels.”
— Matt Viser (@mviser) October 23, 2020
Biden went on to say that fossil fuels would be gone by 2050. Asked if that meant lost of people in the oil and gas industry would lose their jobs, Biden said no.
After debate, before boarding plane home, Biden tries to clean up his statement that he would 'transition from the oil industry.' From pool report: pic.twitter.com/3eFfqniEMU
— Byron York (@ByronYork) October 23, 2020
This is very close to being the energy sector equivalent of “if you like your plan you can keep it.” In this case Biden is claiming people in the industry he wants to “transition” won’t lose their jobs because they’ll have other jobs. Um…sorry but having a new job definitely means you lost your old job. Or here’s another way to look at it:
Biden told the entire oil industry to learn to code tonight.
— thebradfordfile™ (@thebradfordfile) October 23, 2020
So what were the reactions to this big statement followed by a big clarification? National review pointed out some media outlets reached for the familiar “Republicans pounce” response to any bad news for a Democrat:
Politico, which unironically used “Conservatives pounce” in the headline, explained that “the former vice president said he would stop giving the industry federal subsidies, to the consternation of President Donald Trump and his supporters.”
“President Donald Trump pounced” on Biden’s comments, TIME’s Justin Worland stated in his lede, before explaining that actually, Biden is pretty clear in his demands.
The Washington Post was a bit more nuanced but still basically used basically the same frame:
The problem for Biden is that he is running against someone ready and willing to pounce on any perceived mistake — see Hillary Clinton’s emails — and amplify them as loudly as possible, even if or when it gets away from the facts.
Those dastardly Republicans are always willing to take advantage of mistakes by their opponents, unlike the sweet and lovable Democrats who never do that.
But while progressives in the media tried to spin it as an overreach the comments were worrisome enough that some vulnerable Democrats quickly distanced themselves from Biden:
Here’s one of the places Biden and I disagree. We must stand up for our oil and gas industry. We need an all-of-the-above energy approach that’s consumer friendly, values energy independence, and protects OK jobs. I'll keep fighting for that in Congress. https://t.co/9fIaZ8pyY1
— Kendra Horn (@HornForCongress) October 23, 2020
I will continue to stand up to my party when they're out of touch with the reality on the ground in #NM02. 2/2
— Xochitl Torres Small (@XochforCongress) October 23, 2020
Fox News highlighted reaction from some within the oil and gas industry:
“Six-dollar gas is coming if Trump isn’t re-elected,” Continental Resources founder Harold Hamm told FOX Business on Friday after the former vice president outlined his approach to energy policy at Thursday night’s debate in Nashville, Tenn.
“If Biden is elected and his plan on energy is adopted, he will send America into a deep depression and millions of jobs will be lost in Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Oklahoma, North Dakota and we will once again be beholden to foreign rogue regimes for our energy,” Hamm argued.
The American Petroleum Institute put out a statement saying, “We are proud of the grit, innovation and progress we’ve made so that Americans no longer have to choose between environmental progress and access to affordable, reliable and cleaner energy.” But it concluded, “And we aren’t going anywhere.”