Gas prices at an “all-time high” was the attention-getting tease from the July 24 “Today” show. NBC used it to promote a segment on saving money by switching from premium gas. But it wasn’t premium coverage. Regular unleaded prices aren’t at record highs, either for the past year or when adjusted for inflation.
NBC relied upon a new report by oil analyst Trilby Lundberg to justify his “record price” assertion. Bloomberg News used similar language in a July 23 articled that reported the “average pump price beat a record set last September by less than a cent.”
“The average price nationwide for regular gasoline unleaded is now just above $3.01 a gallon. Now according to the Lundberg Survey of gas stations across the country that is an all-time high,” substitute anchor David Gregory insisted before telling viewers.
Gregory left out how AAA and the U.S. Department of Energy don’t agree. Both AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report and the Energy Information Agency (EIA) recorded a lower nationwide average and also point out that the record high is higher than the current price.
AAA reported the average for regular unleaded as $2.989 as of July 24. The EIA arrived at the same average in their last weekly survey published July 17. According to AAA, the highest recorded nominal gas price was shortly after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf coast. The average non-inflation adjusted price on Sep. 5, 2005, at $3.057.
When adjusted for inflation, Gregory’s claim moves even further off the mark. According to the Energy Information Agency (EIA) gas prices would have to reach $3.12 to meet the high set in March 1981.