The White House just tried to pass off an Exxon Mobil statement as its own

The White House just tried to pass off an Exxon Mobil statement as its own
Source: AP/Mic
Source: AP/Mic

The White House issued a press release Monday praising oil giant Exxon Mobil — until recently, the employer of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson — copying language verbatim from an Exxon Mobil PR statement and the company's CEO, Darren Woods.

The apparent copy-paste job was first flagged by the Washington Post's Christopher Ingraham, who tweeted the evidence of the apparent plagiarism. Exxon Mobil's statement, which promoted its plans to invest $20 billion over 10 years while allegedly creating 45,000 jobs, was uncritically passed on in nearly exact form in the official White House release.

"Exxon Mobil is strategically investing in new refining and chemical-manufacturing projects in the U.S. Gulf Coast region to expand its manufacturing and export capacity," both statements read. "The company's Growing the Gulf expansion program, consists of 11 major chemical, refining, lubricant and liquefied natural gas projects at proposed new and existing facilities along the Texas and Louisiana coasts. Investments began in 2013 and are expected to continue through at least 2022."

The only difference between the Exxon Mobil release, issued at 3:10 p.m. Eastern according to Business Insider, and the White House statement posted 34 minutes later, was the latter's decision to spell out "United States" instead of using the acronym "U.S."

As noted by Ingraham, the White House also lifted a quote from Woods that said, "These jobs will have a multiplier effect, creating many more jobs in the communities that service these new investments." But Woods' quote appeared without any attribution, thus meaning the White House more or less transposed the Exxon Mobil exec's words for their own.

While the Trump administration eagerly promoted the 45,000 jobs figure, near the bottom, the statement qualified the Gulf Coast projects would create 35,000 construction jobs — typically short- to medium-term gigs, meaning the total number of people actually employed may be lower — and 12,000 full-time ones. The "multiplier effect" noted by Woods is a common promise of energy extraction companies, but as Boulder Weekly reported in 2013, the actual number of jobs indirectly created is often far lower than industry claims.

The copied language may spell a headache for Tillerson, as the statements give the impression of a cozy White House-Exxon Mobil relationship in an administration already rattled by conflicts of interest claims. Trump campaigned on an oil-, gas- and coal-friendly platform, including denying the scientific consensus on climate change and slashing the budget of the industry's mortal enemy, the Environmental Protection Agency.

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Tom McKay

Tom is a staff writer at Mic, covering national politics, media, policing and the war on drugs. He is based in New York and can be reached at tmckay@mic.com.

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