NBC Reporter Predicts $3.50 Price Tag for Gas Following BP Pipeline Troubles

     NBC’s Jim Goldman seized on BP’s (NYSE: BP) oil pipeline troubles to forecast significantly higher gasoline prices. But the estimate Goldman gave is at the more pessimistic end of the range that oil analysts are giving.


     “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,” the calls for congressional and state investigations into BP’s pipeline maintenance “may be too little too late for America’s consumers.”


     Goldman didn’t name a source for his prediction, but respected oil analysts Trilby Lundberg and Tom Kloza have far less dire assessments.


     Kloza, the “chief oil analyst with Oil Price Information Service in Wall, N.J., forecasts the national average price for regular unleaded gasoline would rise 5 cents or more,” reported the Associated Press on August 13.


      Bloomberg News reporter Daniel Thomas noted in his August 13 story that average gasoline prices rose only one cent in the previous three weeks. Thomas went on to quote oil analyst Trilby Lundberg who remarked that the negligible rise in gas prices “rather stands out against all the headlines affecting oil and gasoline prices.”


     Lundberg, who regularly surveys around 7,000 gas stations across the country, noted that “we have plenty of gasoline, plenty of crude, despite the scary announcements out of Alaska and elsewhere.”


     Goldman’s cherry-picking pessimistic estimate is nothing new in the mainstream media. The Business & Media Institute (BMI) has previously documented other reporters such as CBS’s Anthony Mason similarly skewing reporting towards the high end of price estimates.


     In a July 19 article, oil analyst Kloza shared with BMI his frustration at the media’s penchant for hyping high numbers. “There’s this attraction to the one who has the most outrageous and hyperbolic claim,” Kloza told BMI in an interview.


     “There’s a lot of silliness,” Kloza complained, adding that reporters often have an agenda to “fix some blame” rather than accurately report on market forces that drive the oil and gas prices.


      Just over a year ago, NBC’s Martin Savidge similarly predicted gasoline prices at $3.50. “Seventy-five dollars a barrel would translate into prices of $3.25 to $3.50 a gallon,” Savidge predicted on the August 11, 2005, “Nightly News,” adding, “Some experts fear anything above $3 would send a shockwave through the economy.”


     A year after Savidge’s prediction, oil prices are just a little under $75-a-barrel while gas prices remain around $3.00-a-gallon.