WaPo Cites Highlights Ad Watcher's Complaints Against Oil Companies

September 28th, 2007 1:03 PM

Washington Post reporter Steven Mufson noted in a September 28 Business section front-pager how new advertising campaigns are "Recasting Big Oil's Battered Image."

Within his article, Mufson brought in advertising critic and NPR host who injected his own political beliefs about oil companies like Chevron (emphasis mine):

"What these ads, like all oil company ads, do is accentuate the positive and don't mention the venality, the environmental impact and overarching greed that is at the bottom of their businesses," said Bob Garfield, a TV ad critic for Advertising Age.


"The theme is 'don't demonize us because, after all, we are just people like you,' " said Garfield, the Advertising Age critic. "And I say they are people like me except that their fiduciary responsibility to the shareholders is to . . . gouge me at the pumps."

Garfield is blowing smoke when he talks about price gouging. Numerous studies have shown time and again no systemic price gouging by the oil industry, including the latest study by the Federal Trade Commission.

Yet that doesn't stop Garfield, who, far from keeping his politics to himself in his writings at AdAge.com often betrays his liberal distrust of business -- witness his snide cracks about "exploited" Wal-Mart employees here -- or conservative Republicans.

Indeed, last October in the heat of the 2006 congressional campaign, Garfield practically alleged racism on the part of Senate candidate Bob Corker and RNC chairman Ken Mehlman for an ad that leftists insisted carried racist undertones -- although that required intentionally reading them into the ad itself. What's more, Garfield seemed to suggest his belief that the ad was designed to shore up GOP appeal among bigoted white voters:

The factual background is that Congressman Ford went to a Playboy-sponsored party at the Super Bowl, if you can imagine anything so awful. There he apparently was witnessed in proximity to an attractive WHITE WOMAN. Ford, of course, is black. Hence the message of this ad for certain white Tennessee voters: "Meet y'all at the lynchin' tree. This boy wants to sully your pretty little girl."

Incredibly, RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman denies that the ad has racial or sexual overtones. He is either ignorant of two-plus centuries of American racial history, or he is a liar. Either way, Corker needs to repudiate the ad run on his behalf, and Mehlman needs to resign.