Media Research Center

Free Market Project

3/7/2006 12:49:37 AM

Updated 02/24/06
 


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Gas Hysteria
Media Fail to Realize Oil Not Even ‘Near Records’
Reporter Jim Axelrod mocks local tourism and shows his field of dreams isn’t in Iowa.

     With the travel holiday of Labor Day Weekend looming, major media continue to pump up fears of non-existent “record high” prices. Here are some of the latest high and low points:

  • Not exactly right: NBC “Evening News’s” Mark Potter did better than his fellow journalists. His August 25 report didn’t claim that the price of oil had hit records. That didn’t stop him from being incorrect. According to Potter “the price of oil, which has hit near records in part over fears that Katrina would disrupt drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico.” A barrel of oil was selling at $67.65 at this writing, $29 per barrel less than the inflation adjusted high of nearly $97 or an additional 43 percent difference. Not exactly “near records.”
  • No cap on caps: John Roberts, on the August 25 CBS “Evening News” slipped in a little prediction about Hawaii’s new anti-free market cap on wholesale gasoline prices. According to Roberts: “Hawaii has become the first state to put a cap on the price refiners can charge.” (emphasis added)
  • Latest culprits: ABC’s Ron Claiborne, “Good Morning America’s” fill-in newsman for the day, joined the list of journalists who don’t understand that oil and gas prices haven’t hit record highs because of inflation. According to Claiborne it was “a new record high for the price of oil.” New York Times reporter Jad Mouawad made the same error in an energy price story from the same morning. Mouawad told readers about “energy costs rising substantially for a second year, and reaching another record on oil markets yesterday…” Roberts continued his own trend of getting oil and gas records wrong by saying “The price of oil rose again today, to close at another record high: $67.49 cents a barrel.” Roberts seemed surprised that the stock market didn’t take the non-record news more strongly: “Even so, Wall Street managed a modest rally,” he said. He then introduced Jim Axelrod’s “Cross Country Price Patrol” by warning viewers “of record-high gas prices.”
  • Field of dreams: Axelrod went to Iowa corn country and told viewers how much local tourism is up because of higher gas prices. But he hammered home the point how horrifying it really was by showcasing one tourist who said the reason she was limiting her vacation was “Well, you can't take long trips.” Her raving about the “beautiful view of the Mississippi River” wasn’t good enough for Axelrod who added, “That's the deal in this summer of compromise.” He went on to mock Iowa and show himself standing next to a miniature Statue of Liberty, adding, “Not that you can't see the Statue of Liberty, right here, if you stand really close.”

 


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