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Factcheck: Sarah Palin on Alaskan Energy Production

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On the campaign trail this week Vice Presidential hopeful Sarah Palin claimed that she was well qualified to advise John McCain in the role of 'Energy Czar,' because as Governor of Alaska, she oversaw "nearly 20 percent of the U.S. domestic supply of oil and gas.”

On MSNBC on Thursday, while interviewing McCain ally Senator Sam Brownback, Norah O'Donnell challenged Palin's claims and said that "In fact Alaska does not supply 20% of the US domestic supply of oil and gas. It's just 7.5%. If she doesn't know the facts, then why do we want her to be the Energy Czar for the entire United States?"

Senator Brownback wasn't expecting the question and wasn't prepared with a ready comeback for the hard numbers O'Donnell put forward, but as always the facts speak for themselves.

According to the Resource Development Council for Alaska, "Alaska's oil and gas industry has produced more than 16 billion barrels of oil and 6 billion cubic feet of natural gas, accounting for an average of 20 percent of the entire nation's domestic production (1980 – 2000)."

More recent figures from the Department of Energy show that Alaska is responsible for 18.1% of United States domestic oil production and 13.1% of domestic natural gas production.

So Palin's claim is dead on, based on statements from Alaska's main energy industry organization, though their figures are slightly out of date. Even based on the most up-to-date data, her statement on natural gas production may be slightly overstated, but she's pretty close on oil production, as 18.1% can reasonably be described as "nearly 20%." And the combined production percentage of 15.6% is double O'Donnell's  figure of 7.5% and much closer to 20% than it is to 7.5%.

O'Donnell's comment relies on the same figures and the same Palin quote used by other NBC reporters this week, including Savannah Guthrie on the NBC Nightly News on Wednesday night, and seems to be that news outlet's 'party line' on this topic.  The source of this error appears to be the erroneous conclusion that Palin was referring to domestic energy production, which would include coal, nuclear, hydroelectric and other sources, rather than specifically oil and gas which is what she said in the statement O'Donnell quoted.   Palin has once previously mistakenly referred to domestic energy production, in her September 11th <a href="http://marklevinshow.com/gibson-interview/">ABC interview</a> with Charlie Gibson, but that is not the quote which NBC has been quoting or using video of.

Whether this is just an example of bad research, poor editorial oversight or media bias, it does raise the question of why, if accurate facts are important, anyone would want to watch Norah O'Donnell get them wrong on MSNBC or Savannah Guthrie misstate them on the NBC Nightly News.

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About Dave Nalle

  • http://www.indyboomer46.blogspot.com Baritone

    I don’t know Dave. Give a look at FactCheck.org. They disagree with you. I know you love to cite them when you believe it serves you.

    They break the figures down rather thoroughly. Oh, who to believe, who to believe.

    B

  • Cindy D

    Here’s the link Dave.

    “Alaska’s share of domestic energy production was 3.5 percent, according to the official figures kept by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.”

  • Lumpy

    Isn’t there a pretty big difference between energy production and oil and gas production?

  • Lumpy

    Isn’t there a pretty big differencw between energy production and oil and gas production?

  • http://www.indyboomer46.blogspot.com Baritone

    I somehow never learned how to post a link. I know there’s a tutorial available somewhere but I don’t recall the, uh, well, the link.

    B

  • http://www.marksaleski.com Mark Saleski

    links: look here. it’s a good tutorial. you just need to learn about the anchor tag, or “a”

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    The problem here appears to be the difference between what Palin said:

    “My job has been to oversee nearly 20 percent of the U.S. domestic supply of oil and gas.”

    And what MSNBC assumed she was saying. They and other sources have been interpreting her statement as applying to domestic energy production, which is NOT what she said. Substituting energy production for oil and gas production is like serving a person fish when they ordered fruit. There’s no relationship at all.

    Oil and gas production are what you pump out of the ground. Energy production includes all sorts of other stuff like hydroelectric and nuclear and coal, things which are much more abundent in other states.

    So Factcheck.org is wrong, fine fellows though they are. I’ll take it up with them.

    Dave

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    I checked the FactCheck article, which I hadn’t seen before. It turns out that the situation is more complex than I initially realized, and FactCheck has had to update their page several times to clarify it.

    It appears that Palin did mistakely reference Energy production in her September 11th interview with Charlie Gibson. Since then, and in the soundbytes NBC has been using, she has referred only to oil and gas production.

    So MSNBC is referencing the wrong quote and using the wrong bit of video for the numbers they are questioning.

    All in all, it’s a pretty trivial quibble any way you look at it. The key thing is that Alaska is a state whose economy is driven by the oil and gas industry. Whether that’s a good or a bad thing is another topic.

    Dave

  • http://www.indyboomer46.blogspot.com Baritone

    Dave,

    You say: “All in all, it’s a pretty trivial quibble any way you look at it.”

    Your wrote an entire article about this “trivial” issue even suggesting that “infobabes” (Dave’s characterization) Norah O’Donnell and Savannah Guthrie should be somehow held accountable for their error in your teaser. So, whose being trivial – MSNBC, NBC or you?

    Also, I note that you made, if you look, a rather clumsy attempt to change your original post to reflect the FactCheck.org take on Palin’s statement, taking advantage of your editorial access that most of the rest of us don’t have. (You failed to properly close your link.)

    Actually, FactCheck did NOT get it wrong. They quote Palin directly from the Gibson interview. They also went to some lengths to explain the quantitative differences in the percentage of the amount of energy sources supplied as opposed to the percentage of those sources consumed – two significantly different issues.

    Palin misspoke initially, then later corrected herself. MSNBC’s and NBC’s error was failing to note the difference in her original statement and her later, altered one. So, Palin fucked up and so did MSNBC and NBC. Now instead of a firestorm it’s just a wet match. Maybe you should go back and just erase the entire article as the whole affair has been rendered too trivial for consideration.

    B

  • MARLOWE

    I guess this is what it comes down to now… Lipstick and stats. Anything but having real journalists ask real HARD questions of ALL THE CANDIDATES. But that won’t happen because the vast majority of radio and TV media is owned by half a dozen major corporations who are all about Infotainment and nothing else…

    THE question is: DO YOU REALLY WANT THIS PERSON ONE HEARTBEAT FROM THE OVAL OFFICE?? It really is that simple. Would you feel CONFIDENT that THIS PERSON could handle a major, possibly world shaping (or ending) decision?

    I am ALMOST certain that if half a dozen journalists got together they might be able to scratch up a few scenario-questions that might actually give us a glimpse into this person’s ability to make such a decision. Questions that are NOT submitted before hand. Questions that she ISN’T couched on – or, as in the last presidential debates, prompted to her via an earpiece (Bush).

    Good God! If nothing else let’s let the BBC in here to question the candidates. The BBC, government owned thank the Lord, doesn’t answer to corporate interests and actually their reporters – so I’ve heard – are ALLERGIC TO BULLSHIT.

    Marlowe

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Your wrote an entire article about this “trivial” issue even suggesting that “infobabes” (Dave’s characterization) Norah O’Donnell and Savannah Guthrie should be somehow held accountable for their error in your teaser. So, whose being trivial – MSNBC, NBC or you?

    Both? What seems important when one is watching the incredibly irritating Norah O’Donnell and what seems important 12 hours later are often not the same. I did at least stop myself from saying ‘infobitches’.

    Also, I note that you made, if you look, a rather clumsy attempt to change your original post to reflect the FactCheck.org take on Palin’s statement, taking advantage of your editorial access that most of the rest of us don’t have. (You failed to properly close your link.)

    I was correcting the article so that it would be comprehensive and correct. It’s stupid to have a factchecking article which isn’t complete. Factcheck.org has updated their article several times as well. If you had an article with an ambiguity or error and brought it to an editor’s attention they’d fix it for you.

    Actually, FactCheck did NOT get it wrong. They quote Palin directly from the Gibson interview. They also went to some lengths to explain the quantitative differences in the percentage of the amount of energy sources supplied as opposed to the percentage of those sources consumed – two significantly different issues.

    They did go into more detail, but they also missed the fact that a number of news outlets are using the wrong quote to go with the stats they are using, which is what prompted this article.

    Palin misspoke initially, then later corrected herself. MSNBC’s and NBC’s error was failing to note the difference in her original statement and her later, altered one. So, Palin fucked up and so did MSNBC and NBC. Now instead of a firestorm it’s just a wet match. Maybe you should go back and just erase the entire article as the whole affair has been rendered too trivial for consideration.

    Could be. As soon as MSNBC and NBC and the dozens of leftwing sites which have been hammering on this non-story drop it I’ll consider doing the same.

    Dave

  • http://www.indyboomer46.blogspot.com Baritone

    Why should they drop it? Palin is in the position of having to convince us, the voting public that she is capable of being the Vice President of the United States. Anything she says of does during the life of the campaign – and beyond should she and McCain prevail – is up for grabs.

    In consideration of both your’s and Marlowe’s irritation at the media is misguided. Many of the things you find so wasteful in media coverage are the very things that the candidates on both sides have been railing about. Are the media expected to ignore it?

    “Nevermind about your opponent’s charge that you are a vapid, no nothing idiot, we want to ask you about your position on oil shale drilling.”

    It has been largely your candidate who has been campaigning by deflection, casting charge after charge against Obama, most often about trivial bullshit which the media can’t dismiss at the cost of ignoring more important issues. Were the media to pass over the stupid stuff in favor of covering real issues, the public would be up in arms. Like it or not, the media lives and dies by ratings just like any other capitalist enterprise.

    I find it amusing that Marlowe cites the BBC as a superior news organization (I actually agree.) But is that what all you righties want – state run news media? That’s a laugh.

    I rather imagine that the media will likely drop this particular issue quickly owing to the more recent gaffs both Palin and McCain made on Thursday. So far, this has not been a good week for the Republican ticket.

    B

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    It has been largely your candidate who has been campaigning by deflection, casting charge after charge against Obama, most often about trivial bullshit which the media can’t dismiss at the cost of ignoring more important issues. Were the media to pass over the stupid stuff in favor of covering real issues, the public would be up in arms. Like it or not, the media lives and dies by ratings just like any other capitalist enterprise.

    I suppose it’s better than discussing bogus issues like abortion, but since McCain won’t take Obama to task on anything serious I have this forlorn hope that the media will do his job for him.

    I rather imagine that the media will likely drop this particular issue quickly owing to the more recent gaffs both Palin and McCain made on Thursday. So far, this has not been a good week for the Republican ticket.

    I must have missed todays gaffes. I’d better head over to HuffPo to get the most slanted possible version of them and then I can go research the actual facts for myself.

    Dave

  • Cindy D

    B,

    I liked this B. :-) It’s uplifting and very powerful. Cheers!

    Yes We Can. Obama Speech Music Video.

  • http://www.indyboomer46.blogspot.com Baritone

    Dave,

    Thursday’s gaffs: Palin talking about the Palin/McCain ticket.

    McCain speaking on the phone about the possibility of his meeting with Spain’s president and then prattling on about our relationship with Latin American countries. Perhaps he should keep a map handy.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Already saw those two. The first is remarkably trivial. The second is obviously just because McCain is reliving his youth back before the Spanish-American War when those countries were still Spanish colonies.

    Surely in this modern era we can come up with higher quality gaffes than that. I notice that Biden has gone into hiding.

    Dave

  • troll

    geeze Dave – you’re a regular GungafucknDin (note the ‘interfux’)

    what’s your mailing address – I want to send you a pair of irrigation boots to keep your feet dry through the rest of this campaign

  • http://www.indyboomer46.blogspot.com Baritone

    Trivial? Perhaps. They will get play, however – especially McCain’s. I find it unsettling that this man has trouble tracking just who he is talking to and what he’s talking about. Granted, in this particular case, the reporter on the phone did not speak English very well which, I believe, was a source of some of the confusion. However, McCain’s global repositioning Spain into Latin America is either quite a remarkable feat, or — what? Disturbing?

    B

  • cuervodeluna

    Why is it that when the OP was confronted with sources that disagree with him and his candidate, he claimed that the source which he usually claims is always right–is wrong?

    Something doesn’t make sense here–no matter how many words are thrown at the wall–or how much hydroelectric power comes out of Hoover Dam.

  • Heloise

    Dave, here’s a real factcheck for ya: revisit one (prescient) salient article Heloise wrote about Alaska, Ted Stevens, the bridge to nowhere, and now Palin’s claim that she will make government accountable–to late Sarah baby. Here’s what Heloise wrote in her “Google for Government” article:

    “But according to Mother Jones, “hope for reform comes from a piece of legislation introduced by Senators Tom Coburn and Barack Obama in April and which was green-lighted by the Senate’s Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs in late July.”

    The reason groups are holding out hope in this bill is it is being supported by both sides of the aisle. This seems to have become as rare as hair in Washington. Before this bill has even been signed into law, there has been some controversy over a mystery person putting a hold on it. Mother Jones adds:

    Co-sponsored by 29 senators on both sides of the aisle, the bill has garnered widespread support from more than 100 organizations, ranging from Greenpeace to Jim Dobson’s Focus on the Family. However, just as the legislation was gaining momentum, it was blocked from floor consideration by an anonymous hold.

    Mystery solved: On CNN’s Lou Dobbs Tonight, it was reported that Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) is the one blocking the bill. When asked about this controversial move, his office told reporters that it “was no secret.”

    If this was true, then Sen. Stevens was either “not feeling” this bill, or he covered his opinion with his hands. Often when senators are held up as being bipartisan, they are not rewarded for it.”

    I mention Obama twice in the article as he was the co author and this was a bi-partisan bill. The holdout was Alaska’s very own Ted Stevens.

    Heloise

  • Lisa Solod Warren

    Dave, you might also want to note that this big new pipe line she is touting will probably never get built. The big bucks she is touting are just seed money….. that gas pipeline is years and years off.

    For a great article on Alaska politics, her ties to Stevens and Palin as general airhead… read the long, well researched piece where she was extensively interviewed in the September 22 New Yorker.

  • Floyd Gerebics

    Whats up with you people?? the way i read her comment is she oversees 20% the production;not the fact that they produce 20%!!!!!!Overseeing 20% of the oil and gas production is not the same as saying you produce it and i only had an 8th grade education.We need a few more like her with a little more common sense and the whole would be a better place

  • Pablo

    My I got a kick out of this.

    Now come Kathleen Parker writing in The National Review:

    “Palin’s recent interviews with Charles Gibson, Sean Hannity, and now Katie Couric have all revealed an attractive, earnest, confident candidate. Who Is Clearly Out Of Her League.”

    “No one hates saying that more than I do. Like so many women, I’ve been pulling for Palin, wishing her the best, hoping she will perform brilliantly. I’ve also noticed that I watch her interviews with the held breath of an anxious parent, my finger poised over the mute button in case it gets too painful. Unfortunately, it often does. My cringe reflex is exhausted.”

    “f BS were currency, Palin could bail out Wall Street herself.

    If Palin were a man, we’d all be guffawing, just as we do every time Joe Biden tickles the back of his throat with his toes. But because she’s a woman — and the first ever on a Republican presidential ticket — we are reluctant to say what is painfully true.

    What to do?

    McCain can’t repudiate his choice for running mate. He not only risks the wrath of the GOP’s unforgiving base, but he invites others to second-guess his executive decision-making ability. Barack Obama faces the same problem with Biden.

    Only Palin can save McCain, her party, and the country she loves. She can bow out for personal reasons, perhaps because she wants to spend more time with her newborn. No one would criticize a mother who puts her family first.

    Do it for your country.”

    There ya have it Davey, one of your own calling for the bimbo to step down. Awww shucks

    ps. I am sure William F Buckley former owner-editor of the National Review would have loved this article!

    Smirk

  • http://biggesttent.blogspot.com/ Silas Kain

    Perhaps a clueless Vice President is what we need. The current occupant of the Admiral’s House has too much power. The last occupant was robbed of his rightful ascendancy to the Oval Throne. After all, look at Dan Quayle. His ONLY contribution to Daddy Bush-buck’s Administration was the significant increase in Murphy Brown’s ratings. Two reasonably intelligent vice presidents — disaster. One dumb as a stump vice president — priceless. Now which television show’s ratings would benefit from Sarah Palin? — That’s the question of the week!

  • Cindy D

    Do I have to make a direct analogy?

    I’m not sure what a direct analogy would be.

    Well, I am gonna just go with my instincts and say we’d see an increase in viewing of The Beverly Hillbillys.

  • bliffle

    Oil? What ever happened to concerns over oil? What happened to “drill baby drill”?

    I filled the tank in Sunnyvale for $1.60 per gallon yesterday.

    I hope everyone notices that crude oil is now $40 per barrel and, according to news tonight, the OPEC nations are desperate.

    I hope everyone notices that not one drop of oil from ANWR or OCS has contributed to supply and WILL NOT for at least 10 years.

    “Drill baby Drill” is therefore exposed as a fraud.

    I hope everyone notices that Dick Cheney was wrong, DEAD WRONG, when he said that conservation wouldn’t change oil prices.

    In fact, USA conservation and world-wide conservation has driven prices down, down, down.

    Dick Cheney was wrong. He was wrong when he said it, because we knew fom the 1973,4 OPEC embargo that conservation could break oil prices.

    All people who supported “Drill now, drill here” were wrong. As were all people who said conservation could not affect oil prices.

    That includes all the BC loudmouths eager to beat the drums for “drill now drill here” just a few weeks ago.

  • http://www.fontcraft.com/rod/ Dave Nalle

    Or it could be argued that there’s a direct causal relationship between the actions taken to open up offshore drilling options and the almost immediate cut in oil prices which followed it.

    Dave

  • bliffle

    Nonsense. Oil futures for oil 10 years in the future will start being effective in about 9 years. And then the effect will be small because the amount of oil is so small.

    But the proximate cause of lower oil prices is the worldwide (lead by the USA) radical drop in consumption.

    Why, it’s simple Supply and Demand. You know, Econ 101. Remember?

  • http://www.fontcraft.com/rod/ Dave Nalle

    Apparently you missed the part in Econ 101 about how monopolies can ignore supply and demand.

    Dave