Early Show Hypes "Sky-High" Gas Prices
Julie Chen in the 8:00 a.m. EST half hour of The Early Show hyped "sky-high" gas prices which led to "record profits" for oil companies in a brief anchor-mention on the Senate Commerce hearings today on oil and gas prices, illustrating that a myth debunked in a Free Market Project (FMP) study released last Thursday is still being promoted by CBS News [parts in bold are my emphasis]:
Gas prices haven’t topped inflation-adjusted highs. NBC’s Anne Thompson and other journalists continued to claim “American consumers have suffered through months of record-high gas prices” even as prices dropped.
One of the common themes for gasoline reporting all summer was to claim "record prices," even though the reality was much different. Inflation raises overall prices over time, causing the raw number to go up. A gallon of gas might have cost 25 cents decades ago. That's why inflation-adjusted prices are the only accurate way to compare costs from one decade to the next.
According to the Energy Department, the inflation-adjusted high for a gallon of regular gas is $3.11, set in 1981. But Katrina and Rita sent the media scurrying for stories, and "record highs" were mentioned at least eight times.
CBS was especially fond of the term. It appeared three times during the CBS stories. Anchor Bob Schieffer of the "CBS Evening News" said incorrectly that gas prices had peaked "at a record $3.07 a gallon after Hurricane Katrina" during the October 24 broadcast.
Well, it looks like CBS is just carrying on a storied tradition of bias, just reserving "record" to describe profits but "sky-high" to label gas prices which have since fallen back to pre-Katrina levels:
9 November 2005[0801 EST]
Julie Chen: "Top oil company executives will be in the hot seat today. They're due to testify on Capitol Hill to defend their record profits in the last quarter as Americans face record heating bills this winter. We'll have more just ahead."
Julie Chen: "Let's get a quick check of the news this morning. Oil executives face tough questions on Capitol Hill today regarding their record profits. The profits come as Americans are being hit with sky-high fuel prices. Exxon-Mobil alone posted nearly $10 billion in profits the third quarter of this year."
Bill Cheney, chief economist John Hancock: "This is a record for the oil industry. It's a record I think for any publicly-traded company in one quarter to make this much money."
House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL): "Our oil companies need to do more to inform the American people about what they're doing to bring down the cost of oil and natural gas."
Chen: "Some senators think the companies should donate money to people having trouble paying their energy bills."