Gassing Up: Executive Summary

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Gas prices have again passed $3 a gallon. But Americans should be used to high prices by now – the mainstream media have been warning them of $4, $5 and even $6 a gallon for more than two years. According to a May 7, 2007, CNN poll, “more than three quarters of Americans” think they'll have to pay more than $4 a gallon this year. It’s no wonder. The media have been telling viewers that for years.

     Some key points:

    High-Priced Hype: ABC, CBS and NBC have done at least 70 stories that mentioned $4-a-gallon gas or higher since Jan. 1, 2005. The national average for regular has never gone above $3.06 in that time. Failed Predictions: Journalists and experts relied on predictions of gas prices hitting at least $4 a gallon to make their case. One ABC report said $7 per gallon was coming. Regular unleaded gas has barely passed $3 … ever. ABC the Worst: Although it did the fewest stories, ABC had the most outlandish comments of any network. Those included three separate mentions of $6 or higher gas. Forty percent of the network’s mentions of high-priced gas were about $5 per gallon or more. CBS the Best: Despite its typical economic gloom-and-doom, CBS served its audience by providing balance, not hype, in more than one-fourth of its stories.