Oil closed at a six-month low and gasoline dropped to the lowest price since mid-March on September 19. Yet of the three broadcast news programs that evening, only NBC’s Brian Williams paid attention to dropping oil and gas prices – without mentioning the 6-month benchmarks.
“Back in this country, the price of oil has been plummeting,” Williams read nearly 23 minutes into the half-hour “Nightly News.” “Oil was down another $2.14 today, to close at $61.66 a barrel. Economists say $2-a-gallon gas may be back nationwide in the coming weeks,” he added.
“We’ll see,” the anchor dismissively remarked before teasing a story on the way out to a commercial break.
What’s more, Williams left out just how significant the price drop was.
As the Chicago Tribune noted on September 20, the $61.66 closing mark was “the lowest close for a front-month contract since March 21” and “the biggest one-day drop since May 15.” In addition, the Tribune added, wholesale gasoline delivery contracts stood at “the lowest closing price for a front-month contract” since February 22.
According to the AAA’s FuelGaugeReport.com, the price at the pump dropped 44 cents from $2.929 a gallon in mid-August for regular unleaded to $2.487 a gallon the evening of Williams’ September 19 broadcast.
Just a little over a month earlier, Williams’ colleague Jim Goldman forecasted significantly higher gas prices around Labor Day.
“With gasoline prices expected to soar past $3.50-a-gallon as the summer driving season peaks,” Goldman lamented on the August 12 “Nightly News.” At the time BMI noted that oil analyst Tom Kloza predicted a more modest price hike of “5 cents or more.”
According to the Chicago Tribune, Kloza now predicts “sub-$2.25 a gallon” gas prices “by October.”
“You’ve had a nothing hurricane season,” Tribune news services quoted broker Tony Lerner on September 20. “Gasoline is in free fall here,” he added, saying he “couldn’t even begin to pick” a floor for futures prices.
William’s lukewarm reception of lower gas prices contrasts with the media’s fever pitch when gas prices were on the rise.
“It seems like a month ago we were all screaming with our hair on fire about the price of gas going over $3, no end in sight. And now it looks like it's dropping like a stone,” CBS’s Harry Smith confessed in an interview with Kloza on the August 31 “Early Show” when gas prices averaged around $2.85 a gallon.