Conservatives use gas crisis to stir grassroots against Joe Biden

A graphic calling the fuel supply crisis on the East Coast “the Biden gas crisis.” A tweet speculating that gas stations were running dry was an ‘INSIDE JOB’. A meme of the president and vice president applauding the “Green New Deal” in front of a serpentine line at a gas station.

These posts and thousands of other social media posts, as well as conservative websites and commentators this week, wrongly portrayed President Joe Biden and his administration as catalysts for chaos – who not only mismanaged the temporary shutdown of the country’s largest fuel pipeline on Friday, but designed it.

In reality, a ransom-seeking cyberattack, not an executive order or energy policy from Biden, triggered the shutdown that caused residents of states such as North Carolina to panic so much to buy gas. that nearly 70% of the state’s gas stations have gone without fuel. Thursday afternoon.

Biden spoke of the hack Thursday as he sought to allay fears surrounding the tightening of supply, reassuring the public that his administration had helped bring the Colonial pipeline back online on Wednesday and that the remaining outages at gas stations were a “temporary situation” that panic buying would cause. only exacerbates.

Still, some of the most widely shared tweets about the gas crisis between Friday and Wednesday have drawn criticism of the president, according to media intelligence firm Zignal Labs. Messages published by Zignal blamed the president for the outages, criticized his response and condemned him for canceling plans for the Keystone XL pipeline – although this project, which would have built an oil pipeline, would have had no impact on the current situation.

Deceptive accounts targeting Biden began to gain momentum on Monday, the day North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper became the first of several governors to declare a state of emergency due to the disruption.

“Wouldn’t it be strange if the CYBER-ATTACK that shut down America’s main fuel line was WORKING INSIDE to claim that Joe Biden was not responsible for the insane rise in the price of gasoline. .. “reads a tweet widely shared by former Florida Congressional Candidate Chuck Callesto.

“People can’t complain about the price of gasoline if there is no gasoline to buy,” read the caption of an image depicting a sinister Biden with his fingers intertwined, retweeted by US Representative Lauren Boebert, a Republican from Colorado.

Other articles claimed that the long gas lines across the southeastern United States were a harbinger of America’s future under the Democrats, making Biden a socialist in a strategy towards which Republicans have turned frequently in recent years.

“Gas shortages now, food shortages tomorrow?” Fox Nation host Tomi Lahren tweeted. “Wow… we are starting to have the impression that socialism is on the way….”

In another account, articles equated Biden with former President Jimmy Carter who saw his presidency collapse following the 1979 fuel shortage. A statement by former President Donald Trump on Wednesday, amplified by sites Web conservatives, notably Breitbart News, called a long list of domestic and global challenges Biden’s fault.

“Jimmy mismanaged crisis after crisis, but Biden CREATED crisis after crisis,” Trump wrote. “First there was the Biden border crisis (which he refuses to call a crisis), then the Biden economic crisis, then the Biden crisis in Israel, and now the Biden gas crisis.

On Tuesday, Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity first aired the graphic of Biden smiling with the words “Biden’s Gas Crisis,” a term that then gained traction on Facebook and Twitter.

Recent world events have challenged the Biden administration in its economic goals. Over the past week, he has been faced with a disappointing monthly jobs report, worrying signs of inflation and an escalation of violence in Israel and the Gaza Strip with deaths that could herald a war in the Middle East.

All the while, Biden is still trying to vaccinate the country against the coronavirus, distribute hundreds of billions of dollars in economic aid, and negotiate his own infrastructure and family projects that total $ 4 trillion.

Rising energy prices often have political fallout, complicating re-election campaigns for incumbents outside oil-producing regions.

With gas prices already rising as COVID-19 restrictions relax and Americans travel more, the shutdown of the pipeline has created an even worse public relations problem for Biden. The build-up of fuel and the lines at the pump made it difficult to master the narrative.

The Biden administration’s message that the problem was a tight supply rather than a gasoline shortage, while specific, did not satisfy Americans who couldn’t find gasoline to fill their cars , according to Doug Heye, a Washington-based Republican strategist.

“You have a Republican split on the Republican House Conference and you had a hearing yesterday where people basically denied what happened on January 6,” Heye said. “If you want to send a conservative message, the Biden administration has just done you a favor.”

Ali Swenson’s story.

About Therese Williams

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