This was Monday's headline in The New York Times. Why did the attack increase doubts about Saudi ability to pump more oil? For my own part, I didn't know these doubts existed to begin with. The Saudis can raise production in a heartbeat. But the attack apparently "increased" doubts that were already there. In the article, we read that some people were killed but that oil production was unaffected. So where does the headline come from?
The amount of oil produced by Saudi Arabia is mind-boggling. The idea that a localized attack in which 22 office workers were killed, as awful as it was, could diminish Saudi oil production is absurd. I'm waiting for the next Times headline. Next time a postal worker flips out and kills a similar number of people at a post office, I fully expect the Times headine to read:
ATTACK RAISES DOUBTS THAT U.S. WILL BE ABLE TO DELIVER MAIL
Is the Times simply reporting a mood, reporting the existence of some unfounded "doubts," or is it creating those doubts? Clearly, the Times is doing the latter. There is very little evidence in the article of any compromised ability of Saudi Arabia to produce oil or to maintain security at its oil-producing structures. The headline and the first paragraph make it clear that the intent is to sensationalize these 22 deaths: The attack "ratcheted up" concernes about oil supply, according to the Times.
No one in the article expresses much concern at all. Daniel Yergin says it was a "psychological shock" that had no effect on oil supply. An unnamed OPEC called the attack a "little bit of turbulence." This racheting up is a creation of the Times' reporter. I have more headlines for the Times:
KOBE BRYANT'S STUBBED TOE RAISES DOUBTS THAT NBA WILL SURVIVE
HOMICIDE IN WASHING D.C. LIQUOR STORE RATCHETS UP DOUBTS THAT CONGRESS WILL BE ABLE TO FUNCTION
MRS. SMITH'S KITTY DIES: EXPERTS DEEPLY CONCERNED THAT MICE WILL TAKE OVER THE WORLD
Who needs summer fiction?