OLD Media Moves

NYT biz columnist Nocera takes aim at former NYT boss Raines

August 6, 2008

New York Times business columnist Joe Nocera thinks that the criticism former New York Times executive editor Howell Raines levied in his latest column in Conde Nast Portfolio at business journalists for letting the oil companies off easy is malarkey.

Joe NoceraNocera writes, “It’s about how all of us in business journalism are being sandbagged by those awful people running Exxon Mobil and the other major oil companies, who are busy gouging us while tossing the press their ‘malarkey’ about supply and demand being behind the rise in oil prices. Raines, apparently, is among the legions who believe it’s all a big plot by Big Oil, which could bring down the price with a snap of its powerful finger.

“Well, yes, malarkey is the right word — but it’s a word that more appropriately describes Raines’s column. He seems to believe that the big problem in the United States is that the oil companies are not exploring enough ‘on the vast, unused acreage in existing oil leases.’ Apparently he hasn’t been to Fort Worth recently, where companies are drilling for natural gas in people’s backyards — literally. He sloughs off the tens of billions Big Oil spends each year exploring for oil — and doesn’t even seem to realize that the $25 billion Exxon Mobil paid last year ‘to foreign governments’ is money that makes such exploration possible. He flicks aside the notion that the oil companies want to build more refineries — ignoring the fact that the lack of new refinery capacity is a huge bottleneck that helps push up prices. He mocks ‘network TV anchors and correspondents’ for portraying big oil companies as ‘powerless victims’ to supply and demand. Never mind that Exxon Mobil, for instance, controls less than 2 percent of the world’s oil supply. Most of the world’s oil is controlled by countries, not companies — and they tend to be pretty unabashed about wanting higher prices.”

Read more here. Nocera was not at the paper when Raines ran the shop.

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