ABC Spins Soaring Gas Prices as a Weapon to Bash the GOP, Ignores Potential Problems for Obama

While the morning show hosts on NBC and CBS showcased the looming political threat of high gas prices for Barack Obama, ABC, Friday, simply repeated White House talking points and explained how the President will try and blame Republicans.

Reporter Bianna Golodryga noted that Obama "wasted no time" in going after the GOP. She parroted, "During his speech in Reno, President Obama argued that budget cuts proposed by Republicans would keep the country from making critical investments in new alternative technologies that could wean our dependence on foreign oil."

Golodryga offered no hint of political danger for the President, instead highlighting his claim to expose "speculators." She touted, "President Obama told a crowd here he's going to go after anybody who gouges." CBS, on the other hand, painted a different picture.

Early Show correspondent Chip Reid skeptically observed, "You know, whenever we ask White House officials about poll ratings, they always say 'Ah, the President's not focused on the polls. He's focused on the policy.' " He added, "[Obama] said he believes the reason his ratings are going down is because gas prices are going up."

The Early Show also debuted a new CBS poll finding that 70 percent of Americans believe the country is on the wrong track. Reporter Jan Crawford pointed out that 57 percent of respondents disapprove of Obama's handling of the economy. 

She warned, "That's his highest disapproval rating on the economy since he took office. That is potentially a real problem for the President, because as we know, the economy is going to be a key issue in next year's presidential elections."

Over on the Today show, guest co-host Willie Geist, unlike the reporters on Good Morning America, didn't appear to buy Obama's claims about price fixing: "Is there price gouging or is this political so the President can say, 'look, I'm concerned about oil and gas prices?'"

A transcript of the ABC segment, which aired at 7:02am EDT, follows:

ROBIN ROBERTS: But, we're going to begin with those soaring gas prices rising again overnight. The average price for a gallon of gas is now at a two and a half year high. And this is having a huge effect on everything from fueling our cars to flying. And our Bianna Golodryga, you've been tracking all of this.

BIANNA GOLODRYGA: We haven't even hit the peak driving season just yet.

ROBERTS: I know.

GOLODRYGA: The U.S. Energy department projects that the average U.S. household will pay $825 more for gas this year than in 2011. So, we went to an entire team to my ABC News colleagues [sic] across the country to report on how these prices are affecting every aspect of our lives. They keep going up, up and up.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I don't like to fill it all the way because I don't want to see the number.

GOLODRYGA: It's the same story from coast-to-coast, even in the big, little cities.


DAVID KERLEY: In Reno, prices are already averaging more than $4 a gallon, highest in the state. Drivers are not happy. President Obama told a crowd here he's going to go after anybody who gouges.

BARACK OBAMA: That includes the role of traders and speculators. We're going to make sure nobody is taking advantage of American consumers.

GOLODRYGA: Seattle, average price per gallon $3.94, leading some drivers to join forces.

NEAL KARLINSKY: Commuters are trying something a little strange. It's called slugging and it's essentially legal hitch-hiking. They meet up and get a ride in a stranger's car. And the driver gets to speed through traffic by having an extra passenger so they can go in the car pool line.

GOLODRYGA: For drivers, the trips to the pump has meant a new, smaller car. Sales for compact cars up six percent since the beginning of the year.

BARBARA PINTO: Gas prices here in Chicago are among the highest in the nation. And more drivers are now looking for relief here in smaller, more fuel-efficient cars. This model is a top seller, the Hyundai Elantra. Sales up more than 72 percent over last year.

BILL WERTHMAN (Hyundai sales manager, Rogers Auto Group): In the last four hours, I had eight on my grounds. Now, I'm down to about three of them.

GOLODRYGA: But the pain doesn't end on the streets. Airfare's up seven percent since this time last year.

YUNJI DE NIES: If you think it's bad on the roads, consider the skies. For every penny per gallon that fuel goes up, airlines lose $175 million a year. Rising prices are decimating their profits, which means you can count on higher ticket prices and added fees.

GOLODRYGA: There's just no escaping these painful gas prices, even in the air. And the President wasted no time before turning the issue into a political one. During his speech in Reno, President Obama argued that budget cuts proposed by Republicans would keep the country from making critical investments in new alternative technologies that could wean our dependence on foreign oil. A lot of pressure on this administration.

— Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org