Missing the Point on Prices

Gas Hysteria
Missing the Point on Prices
Networks continue to hype gas prices high above the national average, while the Post looks to government for pricing.

     When gas prices rise, theres no end to network coverage. But as oil costs have fallen, news coverage hasnt reflected that reality. Here are some of the latest high and low points:

    Where is the free market?: The Washington Posts Jim VandeHei wrote an entire front-page story about limiting the price of gas without ever making reference to the free market. According to the story: President Bush and members of Congress are facing an uncomfortable political reality this summer: They have little to offer Americans to ease their pain at the pump. He didnt point out that they should have nothing to offer. Prices are a function of demand, not government dictates.
    Refining the problem: VandeHeis story focused on available oil without delving into the need for refinery capacity, down 2.7 million gallons per day in the U.S. since the 1980s, according to one report.
    Blame the capitalists: The Post story also looked into ways to blame the business community. According to VandeHei, Some members of Congress and many editorial pages at newspapers across the country have proposed a perennial solution: investigate whether oil companies are fixing prices to pad profit margins. Although the story pointed out that this has not been the case, he didnt mention environmental extremists who fight building refineries.
    Crude commentary: The price of crude oil remains far below the recent high, yet the networks keep ignoring this story. Oil closed at $63.27 per barrel, about a $3 drop in just a few days.
    More Pain at the Pump: NBC Nightly News continued to hype the gas problem, this time by focusing on some alternatives to driving. While that effort was laudable, the story still emphasized the high price of gas and showed gas station signs where all of the prices were more than $3. Thats more than a bit misleading, considering that is far above the national average.
    Skyrocketing: ABCs Good Morning America referred to skyrocketing gas prices now topping three bucks a gallon. Bill Weir should have mentioned that the average price is still nowhere near that. And, of course, if prices are that high in some places, they are far lower elsewhere. Not that the networks ever do that story.