As Mark Finkelstein accurately noted earlier this morning, NBC’s Today gave big play to the supposed havoc that rising fuel prices are having on American society. But the hype reached ridiculous levels when Katie Couric insisted during Monday’s show opening that “I had to take out a loan to fill up my minivan. It’s crazy.”
Couric makes at least $15 million a year co-hosting Today.
Here’s how Couric and co-host Matt Lauer teased their upcoming segment on the “pain” of “sky high” gas prices:
MATT LAUER: “Pain at the pump. Gas prices are going sky high. I paid $2.94 a gallon over the weekend to fill up the car.”
KATIE COURIC: “It’s ridiculous. I had to take out a loan to fill up my minivan. It’s crazy.”
LAUER: “People are saying, ‘Pump faster,’ at the gas station, before the prices go up again. We are going to talk about today things you can do at home — if you are spending that much for gas — things you can do to save money in other areas, part of a series we’re calling ‘Cheapskate 101.’”
As MRC’s Brent Baker has pointed out several times, the media’s mantra about “record high” gas prices has ignored the fact that prices are only now beginning to reach historic highs if you take inflation into account.
And as far as Couric is concerned, she should be able to afford even premium unleaded if and when gas prices actually reach record highs. As New York Times reporter Bill Carter disclosed back on December 20, 2001, Couric is one of the best-paid performers on TV today:
NBC and Katie Couric, the anchor of its Today show, agreed yesterday to what is believed to be the largest financial deal ever signed in television news, reaching beyond $60 million for the next four and a half years. Executives close to the negotiations said that Ms. Couric would receive compensation of $15 million to $16 million a year, in a deal structured to include both salary and stock in NBC’s parent company, General Electric. The new figure represents a big jump from the estimated $7 million to $10 million a year she had been earning.
But if Katie is really feeling "pain at the pump," she could always trade in her minivan for something a little more economical — like one of those little electric cars.