Nightline’s Fuzzy Math: Anchor Commits Error in Bush Attack

President George W. Bush’s days in the White House may be numbered, but that isn’t stopping the media from taking a few cheap shots on the way out. ABC’s April 21 “Nightline” reported on the increased cost of gasoline, but did so in terms of the Bush presidency.

“Tonight, $3.51 – that’s the average price nationwide of a single gallon of regular unleaded gasoline. That means a 15-gallon tank now costs more than $50 to fill. As a little reference point, the week George W. Bush was sworn in as president, the price of a gallon of gas was $1.47.”

Update at end of post: did ABC get these numbers from the DNC?

She didn’t stop there.

“Even accounting for inflation, that’s a 200-percent increase,” McFadden said. “We’re guessing your paycheck hasn't grown 200 percent in the past eight years.”

McFadden demonstrated she doesn’t exactly have a propensity for mathematics. While attempting to pin gas price increased on the Bush presidency, she got the math wrong.

Two hundred percent of $1.47 is $2.94. A 200-percent increase would add $2.94 to $1.47, making the current price of gasoline $4.41. The actual increase has been $2.04 per gallon, or a little over 138 percent.

Another “reference point” McFadden could have included: when the Democratic-controlled Congress was sworn in on Jan. 7, 2007, the average price of a gallon of gas was $2.32 cents a gallon, according to AAA.

Over the six years (2191 days) Bush was president with a Republican-controlled Congress, the price of gas increased 85 cents per gallon. The price has gone up $1.19 in the 472 days Democrats have controlled Congress.

*****Update by Noel Sheppard at 4:48 PM: Did McFadden get her percentage increase numbers from the recently released Democratic National Committee ad NewsBusters reported on Sunday?

Gas Prices Up 200%

Pretty coincidental that on Sunday, the DNC released an ad using TERRIBLE arithmetic to incorrectly report that gas prices have gone up by 200 percent since George W. Bush moved into the White House, and the following day, ABC presented the EXACT SAME MISTAKEN CALCULATION, dontcha think?

Furthermore, her line "Even accounting for inflation" makes her math even worse. After all $1.47 in early 2001 is $1.82 in 2008 dollars. As such, adjusted for inflation, this would only be a 93 percent increase, meaning that McFadden was OVER 100 percent WRONG!

Sure is a good thing ABC has folks possessing such fine arithmetic acumen reporting economic news to its viewers!