Earlier this week, we told you about a debate between former FEMA head turned KOA talk-show host Michael Brown and David Sirota, the AM 760 morning guy, over comments Brown had made to Fox News' Neil Cavuto about the Obama administration's response to the oil spill off the Louisiana coastline.
That conversation dealt with what Brown did say; he argued that the White House was taking advantage of the disaster to back away from a pledge to support more offshore oil exploration. But another kerfuffle arose over what Brown didn't say -- that Obama minions, presumably clad as frogmen, caused the spill in the first place.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs made this assertion about Brown on Wednesday, only to back away from it yesterday by claiming he'd been thinking of remarks made on another Fox show, Fox & Friends. Turns out those statements were made by former Colorado resident turned previous White House press secretary (and Westword profile subject) Dana Perino.
On Monday, Perino said, "I'm not trying to introduce a conspiracy theory -- but was this deliberate? You have to wonder if there was sabotage involved..."
How's this whole mess strike Brown? "It's funny, but I also find it sad that journalism's gotten to this point," he says.
It isn't that Gibbs mischaracterized his views, Brown notes: "It's just not what I said at all. The comments I made to Neil Cavuto was that they'd invoked the Rahm Emanuel rule number one -- use a crisis to your advantage. But some people apparently believe this is all some big conspiracy by Obama -- that he caused the leak. And I don't feel that way at all."
Why not? "Having been in government, I know they're just not that competent. They couldn't do it -- or at least they couldn't do it and keep it a secret."
He sees such extreme, totally fact-free speculation an example of conspiracy theories run amuck. "I understand the Obama Derangement Syndrome, because I saw the same thing with the Bush Derangement Syndrome," he notes. "Do I disagree with Obama's policies? Sure, but I don't think it's the end of the world. And some people do."
Here's the scenario to which Brown subscribes regarding the spill.
"When this occurred in the gulf, there's no doubt in my mind that they saw it as an opportunity to say, 'This is a dangerous industry, a bad industry, and we ought to limit it to the extent we can' -- and he shut down the existing drilling offshore, or at least suspended it, which is a huge overreaction. I venture to say there will be a car wreck in Denver today, but we don't shut down driving. And there may be a plane crash somewhere, but we don't shut down the airlines.
"If they were true advocates for offshore drilling, they would have said, 'This is a bad accident' -- because it is bad. But they would have also recognized that there are something like 4,000 wells in the gulf, and we've had this one accident. And accidents occur in every industry. You can't have a perfect record. I laugh when I hear people say, 'I'm going to make sure whatever this is never happens again,' because that's impossible. I think, come on."
Equally frustrating to Brown is his sense that "the press missed the whole story. When I first saw [Gibbs] say that, I was sitting with my wife, and of course, it bugged her. But my first thought was, 'Gee, I must have gotten under their skin.' And then I realized what they were saying, and I thought, good grief. I can't believe they extrapolated or misinterpreted or flat-out lied about it. And now you've got people like [MSNBC's] Chris Matthews feeding the idea that I said Obama caused the accident. And you have Bill O'Reilly being asked by George Stephanopoulos what he would have done if I'd said something like that on his show, and he said, 'I would have slapped him.' And I didn't say anything like that at all."
(Click here to get more details on the O'Reilly take.)
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
These incidents prove to Brown that "journalists sometimes are just lazy. If the AP puts something out, they think that by talking about it, they're doing independent reporting, and they're not. It's an echo chamber."
Look below to see four video clips -- Brown's appearance on Fox News, the original Gibbs comments, a Fox News piece featuring Gibbs' retraction as well as an attempt to defend Perino's remarks, plus the original Fox & Friends segment co-starring Perino.