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Times Employs Same Loaded 'Big Oil' Terminology as Liberal Democrats

A tale of two labels. Two Carl Hulse stories have featured the perjorative phrase "Big Oil" in their headlines; yet Hulse previously criticized the GOP for using the allegedly misleading phrase "death tax."
Senate Democrats failed to push through a proposal that would have deprived the five leading oil companies of tax breaks, Carl Hulse reported Wednesday. Hulse's headline writer, meanwhile, used the same "big oil" terminology a liberal Democrat used in Hulse's story: "Senate Refuses to End Tax Breaks for Big Oil."

The phrase "Big Oil," redolent of sophomoric liberals excoriating Republican greed, recurred deep into the story, from the mouth of a liberal Democratic senator.

Also on Tuesday, Senate Democrats wrote to the Federal Trade Commission seeking an inquiry into whether domestic oil refiners had reduced production to drive down the gasoline supply and drive up prices. "This is just another piece of the puzzle that we need to get at as we try to take away taxpayer subsidies to Big Oil and hold Big Oil accountable for whatever may be going on in the supply chain that is hurting the families that I work for," said Senator Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri.

The Times also used "Big Oil" in a print headline over a May 9 story by Hulse on the same topic: "Democrats' Plan Would Offset Deficit by Ending Big Oil's Tax Breaks."

Ironically, Hulse himself implicitly criticized the G.O.P. in an April 2009 story for its use of the phrase "death tax," which he found misleading:

Fifteen years after Republican strategists put Democrats on the defensive by sticking that pejorative label on the federal estate tax, Democrats are still struggling with how to handle the levy on assets left behind - the one that conservatives portray as the Internal Revenue Service reaching beyond the grave....Since discovering in the 1994 elections that the "death tax" had real resonance as a political issue, Republicans have pounded on the subject and won a steady escalation in the tax threshold, though they have been unable to secure its repeal. They miss no opportunity to continue the drumbeat.