A common theme in the media the past couple of years has been that the world is running out of oil, and that energy prices will do nothing but head higher for the rest of time. Well, a University of Washington economic geologist issued a statement on Thursday not only refuting such contentions, but also claiming that we will never fully deplete the earth’s supply of black gold:
If you think the world is on the verge of running out of oil or other mineral resources, you've been taken in by the foremost of seven myths about resource geology, according to a University of Washington economic geologist.
"The most common question I get is, 'When are we going to run out of oil.' The correct response is, 'Never,'" said Eric Cheney. "It might be a heck of a lot more expensive than it is now, but there will always be some oil available at a price, perhaps $10 to $100 a gallon."
Two weeks ago, The Washington Post's Steven Mufson reported a story the front page of the Business section about conspiracy theories floating around the Internet about "Big Oil" lowering gas prices to help the GOP in midterm elections. If that's news to you, you don't know Jack. Cafferty, that is.
Well now a real and open international conspiracy, OPEC, the international oil cartel comprised of mostly shady authoritarian countries, is working hard to raise oil prices by working in concert to limit oil supply.
Mufson wrote up the story for the Post, but it was shoved down to page D3 in today's paper.
The NY Times editorializes this morning against the proposal by California congressman Richard Pombo to lower the federal royalty on oil-bearing shale, condemning it as "an extraordinary giveaway of federal revenue . . . and a huge incentive to wreak environmental damage." The Times apparently can't stand the thought of oil companies making a profit, even if in return we can significantly reduce our dependence on foreign oil. As the paper acknowledges, "the estimate of the petroleum locked up in these deposits is enormous: perhaps 800 billion barrels of recoverable oil."
Although a Monday CBS Evening News story included a soundbite from an expert dismissing the idea as “preposterous,” the newscast treated a far-left conspiracy theory -- about how the Bush administration is somehow manipulating the pump price for gas to help in the election -- as credible and worthy enough to deserve a broadcast network story. Citing how the price of a gallon of gas has fallen to the lowest all year, anchor Katie Couric wondered: “Is this an election year present from President Bush to fellow Republicans?” Over a shot of a "GOP: Grand Oil Party" bumper sticker laying on a dashboard, reporter Anthony Mason asserted: "Gas started going down just as the fall campaign started heating up. Coincidence? Some drivers don't think so." The man in the car insisted "I think it's basically a ploy to sort of get the American people to think, well, the economy is going good, let's vote Republican."
Over headlines from Daily Kos and Huffington Post, Mason conceded you can “call the conspiracy theory crazy,” but he touted how “it's spreading through Internet blogs and over the airwaves. And a recent poll found 42 percent of people actually believe the Bush administration has deliberately manipulated the price of gas to affect the election."
The Washington Post has gotten around to noticing the popularity of baseless conspiracy theories about gas prices.
After all, a recent USA Today poll found 42 percent of respondents believe gas prices are being deliberately rigged for the GOP's political advantage.
But even as he sought to dismiss the theories' plausibility, reporter Steven Mufson relied on liberal activist Tyson Slocum of Public Citizen to argue a kernel of truth to the notion that politics plays a role in oil and gas prices.
"I don't think the influence is as explicit as some people out there are alleging. But all markets are susceptible to politics, and oil is no exception," Slocum told the Post.
All three broadcast networks last night reported on the Dow record high, pointing to falling oil prices as a reason for the latest market rally.
But the market's been heading on an upward trend for years, throughout climbing oil prices and the media's persistent pessimism on the economy.
Of the three networks, I found CBS had the most negatively-slanted coverage, and NONE of the big three gave any thought to the Bush tax cuts being a catalyst for economic growth.
For my full story, check out the MRC's BusinessandMedia.org.
Here's an excerpt:
While CBS’s Anthony Mason offered qualified praise for the market’s recent rally, he sowed seeds of doubt about the market’s strength. Mason highlighted a retiree who “doesn’t trust this new rally” and then warned that “some Wall Street analysts see another bubble in the economy” with real estate.
The latest "Media Myth" study from the MRC's Business & Media Institute is out. BMI deputy editor Amy Menefee and researcher Julia Seymour found that the media were quick to hype rising gas prices but slow to recognize the ground-rocketing they've been taking lately.
In 35 straight business days of falling gas prices, evening news shows emphasized “high” or “rising” gas prices more often than falling prices.
In half the stories where journalists mentioned falling gas prices, they undermined the news with warnings of future price increases.
It took NBC three weeks to report falling prices on the "Nightly News." By that time, the average price for a gallon of unleaded gasoline had fallen 24 cents.
As part of Newsbusters’ thorough coverage of the Bill Clinton/Chris Wallace interview, the MRC’s Tim Graham noted that the shock should not have been over Wallace’s questions, but rather the softballs provided by "mainstream" journalists such as Tim Russert. The NBC host asked Clinton brief and not exactly hard hitting queries, including "what do you think is the biggest problem" in the world?
CBS anchor Harry Smith seemed perplexed by an "Early Show" guest who had the temerity to blame Clinton for failing to eliminate bin Laden. MSNBC host Keith Olbermann attacked Roger Ailes, Chairman of Fox News, calling him "Ming the Merciless" for daring to criticize Clinton.
Over on CNN, the cable network joined in on the Fox bashing. "Situation Room" contributor Jack Cafferty described FNC as the "F-word network." (It should be noted that this isn’t the first time Cafferty has used the term, it’s sort of a go-to phrase for the liberal anchor.) CNN also featured yet another story over whether the GOP and "Big Oil" are conspiring to bring the price of gas down and, as a result, help the Republicans in the midterm elections
In other wide ranging bias, despite an underwhelming hurricane season, "Good Morning America" warned about Earth’s "soaring temperatures" and anchor Robin Roberts interviewed a parade of global warming cheerleaders.
If you see a fellow walking down the block on his hands today, you can be pretty sure he's a Democrat. For, at least from now till Election Day, Dems inhabit a topsy-turvy world in which good news is bad and bad news is good - unless the bad news is very bad, which would be bad. Got it?
By now we're all familiar with BDS - Bush Derangement Syndrome. In recent weeks, a new, virulent strain has mutated: GPDS. No, not a virus affecting the positioning gizmo in your car permitting men to achieve nirvana - never again having to ask for directions. We're talking about Gas Price Derangement Syndrome in which Democrats - depressedly deranged by dropping gasoline prices - blame the good news on a diabolical plot concocted by Karl Rove and carried out in the covens of Exxon-Mobil and company.
After weeks of CNN entertaining the notion of a gas price
conspiracy and one day after the Dow Jones had it’s second highest close, CNN’s
Andy Serwer flatly told viewers to ignore the idea that Republicans were
artificially boosting Wall Street.
“There’s the conspiracy theory that says that because we’re
coming to an election, the GOP is making the market go up, which, don’t believe
it. If they could do that, they would be on Wall Street getting really, really
rich, instead,” Serwer added in his “Minding Your Business” briefing of the
September 27 “American Morning.”
The Dow Jones had its second-best closing average ever and
consumer confidence shot up, but CBS and NBC undercut the good news with
speculation on hurricanes and “echoes” of corporate scandals.
“With gas prices dropping by the day, Americans are suddenly
feeling a whole lot more confident” about the economy, CBS anchor Katie Couric
noted during the September 26 broadcast, before introducing an Anthony Mason
story on the dropping price of natural gas.
Even so, Mason warned viewers, “don’t count your savings
just yet. Even though the forecast is for a milder energy bill this winter,
your meter will still be at the mercy of weather and world events.” Using the
backdrop of video clips of hurricane devastation and war, Mason then posited
that “another Katrina whipping through the Gulf or an escalation of tensions”
could send crude oil and natural gas prices up again.
For the third time in less then a month, CNN has aired a report investigating the connection between falling gas prices and the GOP’s fortunes in the looming fall election. This time, "American Morning" reporter Ali Velshi looked into the conspiracy theory that oil companies are trying to help Republicans by dropping prices. Co-Anchor Soledad O’Brien teased the report this way:
Soledad O'Brien: "Ahead this morning, is there a conspiracy behind the drop in gas prices? Bloggers say there is something fishy going on."
A few minutes later, at 8:24AM EDT, the program’s other anchor, Miles O’Brien, introduced the segment and joined in the theorizing:
Miles O’Brien: "Well, the national average is now $2.38 for unleaded regular. One month ago, it was $2.87. A year ago, it was $2.79. The price is supposed to go even lower as we head toward the election. Hmm."
A liberal is someone who will always be able to find the dark lining, so long as it's a Republican sun that's shining. And so here's the latest dispatch from the No-Good-Deed-Goes Unpunished Directorate of the Department of Dark Linings:
Energy prices are down, maybe heading even lower . . . and that's bad.
So writes HuffPoster Raymond Learsy today. He begins by citing that irrefutable authority, Al Gore, for the proposition that "we are near the tipping point of climatic catastrophe." He next bemoans that "never or at least rarely ever, has there been a serious discussion on curtailing the availability of gasoline." By all means, I'd encourage Democrats everywhere to run on that platform!
With Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan strongman and "sulfur sniffer," at the top of the news this week, it's high time to revisit the Business and Media Institute's Special Report on "Hugo the Boss." It can't be argued that the media cheered along with his remarks calling Bush "the devil." But the media's past record certainly underscores that Hugo hasn't exactly been presented as the far-left anti-American agitator now displayed on the world stage. BMI's Dan Gainor assembled a substantial study of TV coverage, and found it very soft:
The Media Research Center’s Business & Media Institute looked at all 139 news and news-related stories on the broadcast networks about Hugo Chavez since he took power in 1998. Here are some of the conclusions:
This is shaping up as a day for lefty unilateralism. As noted here, liberal LA Times columnist Rosa Brooks saw no nuance in her Bush-hatred fueled tirade against any expansion of permitted techniques in interrogating terrorists.
Later, Good Morning America staged a global warming love-in, in which nary a dissenting voice was heard and the only question was whether it was too late to implement Al Gore's costly nostrums.
Diane Sawyer's guests were Gore and British magnate Richard Branson. The proximate cause was the announcement that over a recent breakfast, Gore managed to convince Branson to devote 100% of the profits from Virgin Airlines to the effort against global warming [someone check the OJ for Grey Goose].
For NewsBusters types, the question has always been whether Meredith Vieira would be as liberal as her Today show predecessor, Katie Couric. As of this morning, we have our answer. Yesterday, Hugo Chavez stood on the world stage and called the President of the United States a "devil" and claimed the speakers platform still stunk from his presence. Today, Meredith Vieira went on national TV and warned us not to be too quick to dismiss his message.
Interviewing Bill Clinton, she said:
"Now, it's easy to dismiss somebody like Chavez -- and some have -- as a nut. But do you think he is giving voice to to wider frustration in the developing world about this country and this country's policies? Do we need to change the way we act?"
NBC anchor Brian Williams deserves kudos for, on one night at least, giving as high a priority to declining gas prices as he and the media gave when they were rising, but then he suggested a political motive. Williams led Wednesday's NBC Nightly News by acknowledging the plunging prices and his own newscast's inaccurate predictions: “If you have filled your tank lately, then you've noticed. After some dire predictions on this broadcast and elsewhere that prices were rocketing to $4 a gallon, gas prices are coming down” to an average of $2.50 per gallon.
Reporter Anne Thompson attributed the fall to greater supplies and to no interruptions from hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico. Thompson concluded, however, on a downbeat note: “Despite the decreases, analysts warn that we are just one hurricane or one major political crisis away from higher prices.” Williams then raised wild speculation about oil executives, with the ability to open a "big spigot," manipulating prices for political advantage, “Now Anne, as you know there are skeptics and there are cynics out there who say there's nothing to make voters happier than paying less for gasoline and they're going to wonder: Did somebody just open a big spigot?” Thompson rejected his premise: “No, that's not true...”
In a clear attempt to throw cold water on the potential positive economic impact of falling energy prices, an Associated Press article yesterday got sloppy with the credentials of those it sought out for quotes. It also conveyed a false impression that all of those quoted were not impressed with what falling energy prices might do for the economy. Here is the headline and first paragraph of the article:
Economists Wary of Falling Energy Prices
WASHINGTON (AP) — It should only be this simple: Oil prices plunge 20 percent, leading businesses and consumers to ramp up their spending, which gives a nice jolt to the economy. That seems to be the conventional wisdom on Wall Street right now, where the pullback in energy prices is being cheered by investors. But some contrarians think that view could be missing the point.
But not all of those quoted are economists, and not all of those quoted are contrarians.
Here is the roster of the quoted (not in the same order as the article):
To keep this idea going, I wanted to first share the results from yesterday’s “What Might Get Unreported by the Media?” The Nets went 0-for-6 last night, sports fans. Not one of the broadcast network evening news programs felt the president’s approval rating at a twelve-month high, or inflation declining for the second month in a row, would interest their viewers. Amazing.
What might they ignore today? Well, as reported by Bloomberg, oil prices have now totally erased their gains this year:
Sometimes when I'm talking about the media with someone who's smart but
not particularly that political, they'll sometimes wonder why it's
worth pointing out press bias or unfairness. The way they figure it,
basically everyone is smart enough to take everything they see in the
press with a grain of salt. If they come across something that's not
true, they'll reject it.
It's a nice idea in theory, but in practice it just doesn't work that
way. Most people are either too busy, too apathetic, or not intelligent
enough to question the accuracy of something they see on TV or read
The latest Gallup survey provides a great illustration for this point.
According to Gallup, nearly one-half of the American public believes
that President Bush is deliberately manipulating oil prices to help
Republicans. The following is from USA
Today's recount of the poll (h/t: Ace):
I didn’t believe it when I saw it, nor did I believe a NewsBusters member when he/she referred to it in our comments section. But, there it was in USA Today: “Gas Price Decline May Spur Inflation.”
Can’t be, right? After all, even if you’re not an economist, you are intelligent enough to realize that inflation is typically caused by higher energy prices. Such was certainly the case in the ’70s, and has been the case in the past twelve to twenty-four months as oil and gasoline prices have skyrocketed. Isn’t that what the media have been claiming since Hurricane Katrina hit last year – higher oil and gas prices are going to lead to inflation?
Yet, this USA Today article had the gall to suggest that declining gas prices were a bad thing because they would spark inflation. If you don’t believe me, read it for yourself:
Remember last year at this time when you couldn’t turn on your television set without coming across a story on rising gasoline prices? Well, a year later, gas is now $2.50 a gallon, down 50 cents in just one month, twenty-nine cents lower than last year, and the broadcast network news programs couldn’t care less. As reported by Reuters Monday:
The freefall in U.S. gasoline prices continued as the average pump price dropped 12 cents over the last week to $2.50 a gallon, the government said on Monday.
The fall comes on the heels of an 11-cent drop the previous week.
The national price for regular unleaded gasoline is down 29 cents from a year ago and the lowest since late March, according to the federal Energy Information Administration's weekly survey of service stations.
Last September, after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated the Gulf Coast, the media regularly warned of rising natural gas prices and exploding heating bills. Yet, when these same energy costs plummeted a year later – and utility companies announced large reductions in charges to consumers – the networks paid little attention to the news.
On September 14, natural gas prices declined to their lowest point in two years. As reported by the Associated Press: “October natural gas futures fell 55.7 cents to settle at $4.892 per 1,000 cubic feet on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The last time front-month natural gas futures settled below $5 was Sept. 16, 2004.”
Not everyone is happy to see gasoline prices drop. On CNN's Live Saturday, network senior political correspondent Bill Schneider raised the question of whether dipping prices are part of a conspiracy orchestrated by big oil companies.
Said Schneider about lower gasoline costs: "That's good news for Republicans if only because it could reduce voter anxiety." He then noted: "Industry sources cite a lot of reasons, including higher fuel inventories, a so far mild hurricane season, the truce between Israel and Lebanon. But this oil industry critic believes that what drove prices up was speculation. And a report from a bipartisan congressional investigation may be having an impact."
"This oil industry critic" was one Tyson Slocum of the Naderite Public Citizen. Schneider then speculated that, "The dropping prices may last just a couple of months. Long enough to get through the November election. Could that be what the oil companies want?"
In a September 15 report for "The Situation Room," CNN reporter Bill Schneider wondered if the current decrease in gas prices has been timed to help Republicans in the midterm elections. He ominously asked:
Schneider: "The drop in prices may last a couple of months, long enough to get through the November election. Could that be what the oil companies want?"
Does this mean that high prices in the spring and summer were an attempt to hurt the Republicans? This theme, that oil companies are trying to aid the GOP, was repeated or insinuated throughout the report. In the segment, which aired at 4:40PM, anchor Wolf Blitzer introduced Schneider by noting that a form of smog reducing gasoline will be pulled "as we head into the fall and the November elections."
When Ben Cardin, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Maryland, appeared on this afternoon's Hardball, host Chris Matthews played a Cardin TV ad most of which was taken up by Cardin informing voters that:
"I always try to do what's right, what's in the best interest of Maryland families: taking on the drug companies, the oil companies, the insurance companies."
Let's first note Cardin's daring admission that he tries to do 'what's right.' Bold stuff! Actually, come to think of the track record of Maryland politicians when it comes to obeying the law, maybe it is a rather maverick position after all.
But moving to the meat of his message, is this the platform that Dems in general and Cardin in particular want to offer voters? Vote for us: we'll attack our country's biggest employers and taxpayers! You might call the platform: Cardin vs. Capitalism.
Matt Lauer had a chuckle at the expense of his guests - then took Dems to task. Michael Smerconish scolded a Republican. And Meredith Vieira gave further evidence of a style looser than that of her perky predecessor.
That's the nutshell wrap on the first half-hour of this morning's Today.
Politics first. Lauer opened his interview with the chrome-domed duo of James Carville and Philly radio host Michael Smerconish by rubbing his own less-than-hirsute pate and observing with a laugh in the shot captured here: "First time in a long time I feel like I have a luxuriant head of hair."
But things quickly turned serious. Echoing a sentiment expressed by his rookie sidekick yesterday, Lauer left little doubt he feels the Democrats are squandering an electoral opening by failing to propose sufficient specifics on national security. Lauer to Carville: "if you [Dems] ever had an opportunity to take advantage of it, it's now, and the Democrats can't get their act together."
An excerpt from my latest item up at the MRC's BusinessandMedia.org Web site. See my article for more, including links to external content:
The recent discovery of new oil reserves in the Gulf of Mexico was the perfect excuse for CNN’s Jack Cafferty to revisit his election-year conspiracy theory. But when the September 9 "In the Money" aired, the program’s panelists talked to an oil analyst about the future of oil and gas prices, leaving out the idea of a Big Oil-GOP axis of petrol.
"You know, if you were a real cynic, you could also wonder if the oil companies might not be pulling the price of gas down to help the Republicans get re-elected in the midterm elections a couple of months away," Cafferty suggested on the August 30 "Situation Room," just five days before the Chevron (NYSE: CVX) oil discovery.