“Life’s got to be a little better if gas is going down,” in price, teacher Lisa Craig told reporters in an August 29 Washington Post article on falling gas prices. But while Post staff writers Tomoeh Murakami Tse and Chris Kirkham found that driver happy with the nationwide trend of falling gas prices, two of the broadcast network newscasts the night before ignored the story while ABC gave it only passing mention.
Contrast that with just a few weeks ago, when the media were worrying about “record” prices at the pump and one network warned of $3.50-a-gallon gas.
Sandwiched between a story on a Kentucky plane crash and violence in Iraq, “World News” anchor Charles Gibson gave the falling gas prices only passing mention. “The Energy Department reports the average price of gas fell by 8 cents a gallon for the second consecutive week to $2.85. Analysts say supplies of gas are now abundant, and that’s driving prices down,” the anchor read on the August 28 broadcast.
The average price of regular unleaded gasoline had fallen “about 15 cents in the past two weeks, to $2.87 per gallon nationwide,” Tse and Kirkham wrote, citing a respected survey by oil analyst Trilby Lundberg.
Prices have been falling for two weeks. But two weeks ago, the media were warning that prices were at a post-Katrina “record.” In fact, at that time, those prices were below the post-Katrina spike of $3.06 a gallon and even further below the $3.12 inflation-adjusted record price set in 1981.
NBC’s Natalie Morales and CBS’s Julie Chen mistakenly told their respective August 14 morning show audiences that gasoline prices of $3.03 a gallon were at “record” highs.
“Nationwide gas prices have hit yet another record high rising just over a penny in the last three weeks,” Morales told “Today” show viewers. A half-hour later Chen told her “Early Show” audience that “record prices at the pump” could soon “drop in the wake of encouraging news from the Mid East and BP oil.”
Two days earlier on the August 12 “Nightly News,” reporter Jim Goldman warned that gas prices were “expected to soar past $3.50 a gallon as the summer driving season peaks.” As the Business & Media Institute reported then, Goldman was hyping the worst projections while ignoring less dramatic predictions by Lundberg or oil analyst Tom Kloza.