Yesterday, Fox News brought on disgraced FEMA director Michael Brown, who oversaw the Bush administration’s bungled response to Hurricane Katrina. “Brownie,” as he was affectionately known to President Bush, became famous for padding his resume to hide his almost nonexistent disaster management experience. Brown told Fox News host Neil Cavuto that the Obama administration wanted the devastating oil spill as an excuse to backtrack on its offshore drilling plan:
BROWN: And so now you’re looking at this oil slick approaching, you know, the Louisiana shore, according to certain — NOAA and other places, if the winds are right, it will go up the East Coast.
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.” While Mexico and China and everybody else drills in the Gulf. We’re going to get shut down.
In today’s White House press briefing, Fox News correspondent Wendell Goler tried to ask Robert Gibbs about criticisms that this oil spill is Obama’s “Katrina” (spread by pundits like hate radio host Rush Limbaugh). Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace also raised the criticism with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on Sunday. However, Gibbs said that he wasn’t going to answer Goler because, in light of the network allowing Brown to air his conspiracy theory without any push back, he wasn’t “entirely sure a factual answer that I might give to any one of your questions is going to change the notion that your network put out”:
GOLER: It wasn’t just Fox calling this your Katrina.
GIBBS: 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 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, 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 —
GOLER: What is Mr. Brown’s attribution?
GIBBS: I can only wish that the network that you work for asked that prior to interviewing him yesterday.
GOLER: The reporters in here asked that. So I’m asking you —
GIBBS: You should call headquarters, my friend, and ask for somebody who makes the decisions to put people like that — because I’ve got to tell you Wendall, I’m not entirely sure 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 purposefully set off in order to change an offshore drilling decision.
It’s important to note that Brown wasn’t the only one on Fox spreading these theories. On Fox and Friends yesterday, former Bush press secretary and current Fox News contributor asked whether the oil spill was “deliberate.” Fox Business’ Eric Bolling later similarly asked, “The question is did they let this thing leak?”