WaPo's Misleading Headline on Saudi Oil Talks

President Bush's effort to coax the Saudis to boost oil output was given wildly different treatments on the front pages of the Washington Post than the British broadsheet the Financial Times.

"Saudis bow to oil pressure: Kingtom to lift output to highest in two years; US lobbying comes after price nears $128" reads the May 17 front page FT headline. (The headline for the online version is slightly different: "Saudis to boost oil output after US pressure.")

But the Washington Post headline painted Bush's diplomacy as an abject failure: "Oil Efforts Are Best Possible, Saudis Say: Bush Unable to Win Concessions Likely to Lower Gasoline Prices."

Of course, the Saudis DID agree to boost daily output by 300,000 barrels. As the Post's Abramowitz noted, "[t]hat would take Saudi production to 9.4 million barrels a day" whereas the max the kingdom can pump out a day would be "11.3 million barrels."

While the increase is not as good as Bush administration officials may have hoped, the Saudi visit by President Bush did yield a change in Saudi oil policy. While it may not be as much as Bush hoped for, it's not like he walked away with absolutely nothing to show for the visit, an impression the American MSM seem eager to portray.

Other U.S. newspaper headlines were worse, such as Baltimore Sun's misleading header for a May 17 AP story: "Saudi oil production unchanged."

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is a writer living in New Carrollton, Md.