Al Jazeera reporter Shihab Rattansi was cut off from MSNBC Wednesday when he started blaming the oil and gas industry in Texas for the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey.
“It’s interesting listening to the mayor there,” he said. “If you’re a resident in Beaumont last night and you were watching television, you would be reassured by what the mayor said, by what the weather forecaster said. This wasn’t going to be as bad as all this.”
“Actually let put this is in a different context,” he added later. “We’re in what’s called the ‘golden triangle’ in the southeast, so we have Orange, is one point of that triangle to the north, we’re in Beaumont, and we have Port Arthur to the south.”
“Now you know it’s interesting the reason why it’s called the ‘golden triangle’ is because this is the first place in the United States where they discovered large quantities of oil in 1901,” he explained, “and that led to the Texas oil boom and the huge amounts of money come pouring into this region.”
“It’s pretty clear though that despite that,” he added, “money has not been flowing into this region for the infrastructure, for the climate change effects that we knew were inevitable because of the oil and gas industry’s activities on this coastline, even as the oil and gas industries were covering up what they knew about climate change in the seventies.”
At this point he was cut off by MSNBC anchor Ali Velshi, who went to cover a rescue, but came back moments later to Rattansi.
“You can’t make the connection between the oil and gas industry and climate much much clearer,” Rattansi continued, “and you know you were talking to somebody in Port Arthur, we understand the largest crude oil refinery in the United States it’s in Port Arthur, it’s shutting down.”
“That might sound very prudent,” he said, “but what we know from experience is that when you shut down these refineries, there’s a huge amount of toxic gas that’s released.”
“But this, is,” he continued, “I mean it’s not rocket science, it’s been warned about for years by climate scientists.”
“And yet this is all coming as a surprise, and there just aren’t the preparations for it,” he said “and yet, so much money has been generated here, the mayor yesterday talking about how she spent $5 million on roadways for drainage, well it wasn’t enough, and yet there is more money here.”
“And Texas politicians clearly have a lot to answer for, because they’re the ones…” he said but was cut off.
Viewers of the progressive news network MSNBC wondered on social media if he was purposely cut off in order to keep people from hearing criticism of the oil and gas industry.
“Hmmm…it’s soooo strange how [MSNBC] keeps “losing” you when you speak the truth about #infrastructure, #climatechange, & dirty politicians,” said one viewer to Rattansi.
Velshi responded to the conspiracy theory by tweeting, “[Shihab Rattansi and] I are old friends, I’m an [Al Jazeera] alum, & have been critical of the oil industry my entire career. This WAS a tech issue.”