Post Buries OPEC Production Cut Inside Paper

     Conspiracy theories involving Republicans and “Big Oil” are more newsworthy to The Washington Post than an international oil cartel’s moves to pump up prices.

     While The Washington Post recently highlighted in its Business section how people believe Republicans and “Big Oil” conspired to lower gas prices before the election, a story about OPEC’s plans to cut oil supply in order to raise oil and gas prices was relegated to page D3.

     On October 6 the Post ran a Steven Mufson article, “Conspiracy Theories Abound as Oil Prices Fluctuate,” on the front page of Business. In his article, Mufson explained the general premise behind the anti-business conspiracy theories. The Post reporter found in liberal activist Tyson Slocum a less conspiratorial view, but one still suspect of big business.

     “I don't think the influence is as explicit as some people out there are alleging. But all markets are susceptible to politics, and oil is no exception,” said Slocum, who heads the liberal advocacy group Public Citizens’s energy program.

     Two weeks later, however, a real, broad-based conspiracy to raise prices was pushed to the third page of the Business section.

     “OPEC Says It Will Cut 1.2 Million Barrels a Day,” blared the headline of the October 20 Mufson article. The Post reporter noted that it was the oil cartel’s first significant production cut since December 2004 but that some individual member countries, such as Saudi Arabia, have unilaterally cut production earlier this year.

     Mufson’s October 20 story did not make any reference to popular gas price conspiracies that were the focus of his October 6 story nor did he seek to quantify how much OPEC’s reduction could cause prices to rise on crude oil and possibly at the gas pump.