The MSM's Arrant Hypocrisy Concerning Food vs. Fuel

Some issues are so simple to understand that, when the mainstream media distorts the truth in service of a hidden agenda, you almost have to laugh as it drives the clown car over the Cliffs of Bias.

When the issue is enormously complex, and the folly of determining the truth by even our greatest minds humbles us all, you almost want to cheer at the media’s contortionistic talents — so grotesquely fascinating to observe as they are.


That is, you would if the purpose behind it all wasn’t so appalling.

The enormously complex issue is the food vs fuel debate — the diversion of crops from food production to biofuel (ethanol) production. The MSM has an unsurprisingly hypocritical history of reportage on this story.

During the Clinton presidency, the Energy Policy Act and its subsequent amendments offered incentives for biofuel production. This was allegedly aimed at promoting clean energy and reducing dependence on foreign oil. The subtext, however, was for the environmental movement to deliver a blow to the big, bad oil companies. Take away oil’s market share by promoting an alternative, and stack the deck by providing government subsidies. The MSM ate it up, and spit it back out with glee.

But then, George W. Bush became President. The MSM focused all their energy on demonizing him. When commodity prices began to rise in 2005, they saw an opportunity to deliver a double whammy on Mr. Bush. Yes, it would require them to reverse their position on biofuels, but damaging the President was a far more noble practice than reporting the truth.

The MSM blamed the commodity price increase on the diversion of corn farming from food production to biofuel. With less corn and increased demand from emerging countries, this drove up the prices of corn, which triggered increases in other commodities, making food production more expensive, and thereby causing food shortages everywhere.

That was the narrative, anyway.

And boy, did the MSM eat this story up as well, and spit it out — again — with glee. It started with noted environmentalist Lester R. Brown. Time Magazine jumped on board. So did the BBC. The Washington Post yapped about it. CNN did the same, along with Fortune Magazine. The New York Times unsurprisingly agreed with Fidel Castro’s take on the matter, while Reuters frothed over Hugo Chavez’s opinion.

This was the single whammy.


The double whammy struck when oil prices spiked to $130/barrel in 2008. Ah ha! Bush’s “20 in 10” plan — reduce gasoline consumption 20% by 2010 by subsidizing biofuel production — was all designed to spike those commodity prices, including oil! Put big money into the pockets of oil companies (after all, they make such great villains)!

Big oil profits and global food shortages! It was the perfect storm just as the country headed to the polls to elect a new President.

Except the truth has now arrived. It turns out that crop diversion was not the cause of the commodity price spike after all.

So why is the MSM eerily silent on the matter?

The factors affecting commodity prices are so complex that the World Bank, which initially believed that diversion of crops to biofuel caused global price shocks, reversed itself in a recently-issued report.

The World Bank’s conclusion was that, in 2008, interest rates were so low that there was a lot of excess money floating around, and some of it found its way into commodity markets. Just as the housing market became a bubble, so did the commodity market. We all remember $4 gasoline in the summer of 2008, thanks to that $130/barrel oil. During the same period, corn prices doubled, along with rice, and just about every other commodity. Once speculation drives up prices, other speculators pile in and, as the linked charts show, we see a spike in prices.

The World Bank concluded that the role of biofuels was “much less than initially thought”, and that it found “no evidence that alleged stronger [food] demand by emerging economies had any effect on world prices.”


The great cautionary note in the report is that events in one sector (“increased demand for maize for ethanol production”) will affect other markets (wheat). Therefore, policy changes in one market may affect other markets. In other words, governments need to proceed with extreme caution in trying to control prices, because they are more likely to exacerbate a situation rather than improve it.

So complex is this issue that understanding the World Bank’s report requires several cocktails and/or a genius level IQ. Nevertheless, there was no shortage of media coverage of this issue in the 1990’s and again in the mid-00’s, because it served the purpose of bashing the Right.

Yet now that the truth has come out, why isn’t the MSM covering it?

To do so now, without any context, would be to admit they didn’t know what they were talking about. Mainstream journalism outlets have long since abandoned any sense of integrity, so the idea of owning up to such glaring errors is like asking Hamburglar to go vegan.

The more likely explanation, however, is that the truth doesn’t fit the MSM’s leftist-driven narrative — at the moment. As we’ve seen, the MSM will willingly and gladly contradict itself if doing so serves the larger purpose.

What we can expect, however, is that the MSM will have loads to say on the World Bank report when the time is right.

The question I put to all of you gamblers out there is this: will they contradict themselves again by cheering the report, or try to maintain consistency by criticizing it?

Place your bets.


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