ABC Touts Columnist Tom Friedman Seeing Gulf Oil Spill as 'Opportunity'

GMA's hosts and producers know what to expect when they have columnist Thomas Friedman on: Requests for yet more taxes on the American public.
ABC's Good Morning America on Thursday again brought on Thomas Friedman to lobby for taxes on carbon and oil. Talking to host George Stephanopoulos, the New York Times columnist urged Barack Obama to "use" the oil spill in Gulf of Mexico and push "a bill through the Senate."

Friedman discussed America getting off oil and argued, "Well, ultimately, it's going to require a price on carbon that will stimulate innovation in clean power technologies." He delicately mentioned forcing changes on businesses and taxpayers and touted that other countries "are putting in place, basically, these kind of carbon rules and taxes that give a very clear signal to business, where to invest."

Other than the occasional right-leaning point made by Bill O'Reilly, GMA's hosts don't often bring on conservative guests to promote lower taxes and less government regulation. Yet, Friedman is a favorite of the ABC program.

The columnist appeared on the September 8, 2008 GMA to make almost the exact same argument he made on Thursday. Talking to host Diane Sawyer, Friedman hyped, "But, you know, there's really no effective plan to make us energy independent without what I call a price signal, without either a carbon tax or a gasoline tax that's really going to shape the market in a different way."

Speaking of the then-presidential candidates, he enthused, "I'm looking for them to tell the truth, which is everywhere in the world, gasoline is taxed except us. You know, gasoline in Denmark is $10 a gallon."

Certainly, GMA's hosts and producers know what to expect when they have Tom Friedman on: Requests for yet more taxes on the American public.

A partial transcript of the May 6 segment, which aired at 7:08am EDT, follows:


HOST GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to turn to the oil spill. Fascinating column yesterday, where you said, "The oil spill was what the sub-prime mortgages were to the markets, both a wake-up call and an opportunity." You said it could be President Obama's most important leadership test.

FRIEDMAN: Yeah. I really think this is an opportunity. The President has really got to decide how am I going to deal with this spill? Does he really just want to end the oil spill? Of course he wants to do that. Or does he actually want to give birth to a new energy system that will end our addiction to oil. I for one am hoping and urging that he'll do the latter, that he'll use this as a way of pushing a bill through the Senate, that will begin to finally to end our addiction to oil. So, over time, you know, we're not going to find ourselves dependent on these kind of dangerous technologies, that inevitably lead to these kinds of accidents.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And to pick up on your previous point, that could involve some pain, higher oil and gas prices.

FRIEDMAN: Well, ultimately, it's going to require a price on carbon that will stimulate innovation in clean power technologies. Now, really, if you look out at the American business communities today, American business leaders understand that, really, every country in the world, Europe, Japan, China, are putting in place, basically, these kind of carbon rules and taxes that give a very clear signal to business, where to invest. We're the only major country in the world, not doing that. And I think it's a real - it's a real disadvantage. I mean, China's getting ready to clean our clock. How do you say clean your clock in Mandarin, in the next great global industry, which will be clean technology.

Friedman is the second Times columnist to suggest the oil spill had a good side; in her Wednesday online "conversation" with fellow columnist David Brooks, Gail Collins said one possible "bright spot" of the spill would be a renewed American focus on environmental issues.

- Scott Whitlock is a news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow Times Watch on Twitter.