ABC Fuels MPG Story with Liberal Voices

     Despite past mourning of the hardship of the auto industry, ABC aired support for higher fuel efficiency standards that would make competing with foreign car makers more difficult and raise manufacturing costs.


     “World News with Charles Gibson” reporter Dean Reynolds gave almost no time to the auto industry in his June 7 report. With the exception of parts of a General Motors radio commercial, the story was one-sided and included a liberal senator and policy expert instead of both sides of the issue.


     “We have better cup holders in cars, we have better music systems in cars – that’s all good,” Sen. Byron Dorgan said, “But the fact is we need cars that are more efficient.”


     Dorgan has previously said that forcing the increase in gas mileage standards is a done deal. ABC chose to highlight the North Dakota Democrat, who has a 95 percent liberal rating (equal to that of Sens. Hillary Clinton (D - N.Y.) and Barack Obama (D.- Ill.)) from the liberal Americans for Democratic Action organization.


     “I think the issue is over — I think you've lost that issue. I think your position is yesterday forever,” Dorgan told industry executives. ”I think the Congress is moving on and you're going to have increased efficiency requirements.”


     But even liberal Democratic Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan (100 percent ADA rating), who was not quoted in Reynolds’ story, has favored a more tempered approach.


     “Rather than these little incremental annual increases that we focus and put our resources into these leap-ahead technologies which will make a really big difference,” Levin said on CBS “Evening News” on May 27.


     Right now the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) for light trucks is 24 miles per gallon and for cars is 27 miles per gallon. The Senate will soon begin debating higher CAFE standards of 35 miles per gallon for both cars and trucks by 2020.


     But raising standards to that level would cost the already hurting industry $114 billion according to the May 27 CBS “Evening News.”


     Phyllis Cuttino, Project Director for Pew’s Campaign for a Fuel Efficient America, doesn’t see it that way when interviewed by Reynolds. Although ABC didn’t make the point, Pew is a left-wing think tank that that also includes special projects that push for action on climate change, more federal spending on immigrant children and a large guest worker program


     “Whether it was seat belts, whether it was on headrests, whether it was on airbags, they’ve said time and time again that it can’t be done and look it all was,” Cuttino said in the ABC News story.


     Cuttino told the Business & Media Institute she supported the bill introduced in the Senate by Commerce, Science, and Transportation Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) and Vice Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska). That bill would require automakers to increase fuel economy standards to 35 miles per gallon on all cars and light trucks nationwide by the year 2020.


     Cuttino emphasized class warfare talking points and “the compelling global warming” issue when making her case. According to Cuttino, it costs a family in Arkansas $140 more a month on gasoline expenses than it did seven months ago. “One hundred and forty dollars may not seem like a lot of money to an auto exec or a member of Congress, but it is to a working family,” Cuttino quipped.


     The auto industry’s position is that all automobiles are not created equal. According to an industry ad campaign launched in 11 states, auto manufacturers do not think it is fair for cars and trucks to be looked at the same way.


     “You see your truck?” said an excerpt of one ad. “They want to set the same fuel economy standards that they use for cars … when you buy that new pick-up, it’s really going to jack up the price.”