Media Mantra on "Record High" Gas Prices, But a Few Note Reality --3/18/2005
2. GMA Guest and Diane Sawyer Warn of Extinction Soon for Humans
Thursday's CyberAlert pointed out how, adjusted for inflation, gas prices would need to exceed $2.97 per gallon to set a record, not the $2.06 or so the media hyped on Tuesday and Wednesday as a "record high." On Thursday night, CBS's Bob Schieffer repeated the error as he referred to how "the price of gasoline hit a record today" at $2.06 a gallon, but then he contradicted himself as he acknowledged that "adjusted for inflation, that's still about a dollar short" of the 1981 price. Meanwhile, NBC's Brian Williams again made the false claim that "retail prices for regular gasoline hit a record average of a little more than $2.05 a gallon," an inaccurate charge made on all the morning shows on Thursday. On Wednesday, Today's Matt Lauer had noted that "some economists are saying that if you take inflation into account that these prices are relatively better than for example some times in the late 1970s and the 1980s," but that didn't dissuade Today news reader Ann Curry, who proclaimed on Thursday morning: "Today gasoline prices are at a record high."
The March 17 CyberAlert recounted: The futures price for a barrel of oil and the cost of a gallon of gas at the retail pump have been soaring, but they are far from record highs, yet the networks make that false assertion. On Wednesday night, Peter Jennings teased: "On World News Tonight, the price of oil is at another record high." Betsy Stark soon issued an inaccurate prediction that "gas prices are now within a penny of their all-time record." On CNN, Erica Hill referred to how "crude oil prices hit a record high today closing" and the "AAA predicts U.S. gas prices could reach an all-time high tomorrow." CBS's Bob Schieffer insisted that "the price of oil hit a record $56 a barrel today." NBC's Brian Williams declared that "the price of oil set a new record high -- $56 a barrel." PBS's Jim Lehrer maintained that "the price of crude oil rose to an all-time high today." FNC's Shepard Smith warned: "The cost of oil hitting an all-time high. It looks like the cost of gas is not far from behind." In fact, adjusted for inflation, oil will have to hit $90 a barrel to set a record high and gasoline would reach a record not at $2.07 per gallon but at a $2.97.
For the full rundown: www.mediaresearch.org
-- NBC's Today, March 16: After seeing the March 17 CyberAlert item, the MRC's Geoff Dickens recalled that in the midst of references to "record high" oil and gas prices, co-host Matt Lauer on Wednesday had given a brief feint to reality. During an exchange with a NBC reporter at a gas station, he noted: "I know some economists are saying that if you take inflation into account that these prices are relatively better than for example some times in the late 1970s and the 1980s. But how are people expecting this is going to affect the summer tourism season?"
But on Thursday morning, March 17, Today returned with the same misinformation. Ann Curry ended the 7am news update: "Today gasoline prices are at a record high. The Triple A [AAA] says the national average price of unleaded regular gas is now two dollars and five and half cents a gallon. Time to walk. It is now 7:06am. Let's go back to Katie and Matt and Al. Yikes!"
A gallon of water still costs more.
Diane Sawyer and a guest used a segment on Thursday's Good Morning America, which promoted a Sunday night National Geographic Channel show on the discovery of an extinct species of small humans, as a chance to get in digs at how modern treatment of the environment and weapons may mean modern homo sapiens will soon become extinct. Professor Bert Roberts of Australia's University of Wollongong warned that "every other species of human has gone extinct in the past. We're the last one left standing, and we may not be left standing for much longer unless we can look after the planet better than we are at the present time." Sawyer then pitched in: "And take care of our weapons, as well."
During the 8:30am segment on the March 17 Good Morning America, Roberts described what he found on an Indonesian island and held up next to his head a replica of the small head of the species, dubbed "the hobbit," he found (see online posting of this CyberAlert for a still shot from the show.)
The MRC's Jessica Barnes caught this exchange:
Diane Sawyer: "And is there any reason then, correspondingly, why the larger people, the taller people made it?"
For a news story about Roberts' archeological discovery: www.animalactivism.org
For the National Geographic Channel's page on the Sunday night edition of its Search for the Ultimate Survivor: www.nationalgeographic.com
-- Brent Baker