On the front page July 22 the New York Times published a fawning article extolling the oil and refining industry in terms that would make one weep in gratitude to the oil boys. The difficulties they have overcome to serve us at the highest prices possible was presented to its readers on the news pages as breathless prose. The oil industry puff piece elicited a rejoinder from yours truly the next day, please see "The New York Times, Mouthpiece for the American Petroleum Institute" 7.23.07, commenting on the Times' reporting on how so few are doing so much for so many.
Well surprise, this Saturday, August 4th, the Times Letters to the Editors printed an effusive missal congratulating the July 22nd article and chronicling the industry's own good works, telling us, amazing for an industry so hard pressed for cash, about its considerable investments to expand refining capacity. Who wrote the letter? You guessed it. The American Petroleum Institute no less (see "Oil Refineries" Letters to the Editor 8.4.07)
The letter was dated July 23rd. The Times normally has a turn around of its letters to the editor within the week. A near two week turn around is unusual, so one could well imagine the interdepartmental struggle that must have taken place to get this platitude published on the Letters to the Editor page.
Was the letter published to counter the critique in the Huffington Post blog of July 23rd? Who knows and who much cares. What it does show however, is the incestuous nature of the Times' reporting on matters relating to oil and energy. That the Times would write an article that would draw such fawning praise from the people whose job it is to make 'Big Oil' cuddly only underlines the complete breakdown of standards and objectivity that has become the hallmark of the Times' reporting on these issues. Rather than informing the public about the great oil heist taking place, The Times serves us the pablum of reprints from oil patch pitch PR handouts. Venezuela's Chavez, Saudi Arabia's al-Naimi, ExxonMobil's Tillerson and on and on, all thank the good "Old Gray Lady". Not to speak of Red Cavaney, President and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute.