CNN's Cafferty Rehashes Conspiracy Theory on Gas Prices, Elections

     Maybe it could be called “The Conspiracy Hour with Jack Cafferty.” On the September 2 “In the Money,” the program’s host recycled his theory that gas prices are dropping because of scheming oil companies.


      “You know, if you were a real cynic, you could also wonder if the oil companies might not be pulling the price of gas down to help the Republicans get re-elected in the midterm elections a couple of months away,” Cafferty suggested just a few days earlier on the August 30 “Situation Room.”


     “In the Money” contributor Jennifer Westhoven reminded Cafferty of his August 30 comments and suggested he rehash his “cynicism about the election” for the “In the Money” audience.


     “Certainly the thought had crossed my mind. I mean, the oil companies have a vested interest in seeing that the Republicans remain in control of the federal government,” Cafferty answered Westhoven, before adding facetiously, “They wouldn't pull prices down before the mid-terms now, would they?” he added over laughter from his fellow panelists.


     Later on, Cafferty returned to actual supply and demand considerations driving the price, which prompted contributor and Fortune magazine editor Andy Serwer to offer a gloomy prediction. Suggesting the price drop was only a “blip,” Serwer warned that political crises stemming from Iran, Venezuela, or Nigeria “could erupt or turn bad or anything at any point” or that the hurricane season might take a turn for the worse.


     At no point in their look at gas prices did the “In the Money” crew seek the opinion of oil analysts, although Serwer confidently pointed to “the folks at the Chrysler Corporation” who “seem to be suggesting” gas prices will “stay up for a while.” Serwer also scoffed at others who “think they’re going back to $2,” adding, “I’m not one of them.”


     While the “American Morning” business contributor didn’t name names on the $2 prediction, he appears to be misquoting oil experts.


     “We'll be closer to $2 than $3 come Thanksgiving,” reporter James Healey quoted the Oil Price Information Service’s (OPIS) Fred Rozell in the August 30 paper. That would suggest gas price averaging below $2.50, not necessarily at or near the $2-a-gallon mark.


     A September 5 article by Associated Press reporter Brad Foss similarly noted that “most analysts” believe achieving $2-a-gallon prices “is unlikely and would entail a major slowdown in the economy, if not a downright recession” but that it’s more likely “that retail gasoline prices will slide to about $2.50 a gallon by winter – and then head higher again early next year.” The average per gallon price for gasoline has dropped 30 cents in the past month, to $2.73.


     The Business & Media Institute has varying coverage of price drops by other media outlets. On the August 31 “Early Show,” CBS’s Harry Smith remarked that the media months ago were “screaming with our hair on fire” about then-rising gas prices while a day earlier, NBC’s Kevin Tibbles shrugged off the downward trend, focusing his August 30 report on Chrysler’s “wake-up” call from CEO Tom LaSorda who is planning for gas prices in the “$3-to$4-a-gallon” range.