CNN on Falling Gas Prices Under Democrats: ‘Call It the Recovery’

Prior to the midterms, CNN ran a number of stories on falling gas prices and a possible conspiracy between the Republican Party and "Big Oil" to lower costs before the elections. Each piece hinted at a dark plot as the reason for declining prices. Well, the elections are over; Democrats are in power, and now America is in ‘a recovery.’ Introducing a segment on Wednesday’s "American Morning," co-anchor Miles O’Brien cheerily discussed the upcoming holiday travel season:

Miles O’Brien: "A week away from your road trip over the interstate and through the malls to grandmother's house. A check of what it will cost you to fill up your sleigh now. Triple A reports the national average of unleaded gas now at $2.22 a gallon. Shoot, grandmother could live further away, or farther away, I guess. And with prices falling more people are heading back to the bigger rides. ‘American Morning’s Dan Lothian joining us from Washington with more on that. Hello, Dan."

Reporter Dan Lothian’s story focused on how these low prices are allowing Americans to buy SUVs again:

Dan Lothian: "Good morning, Miles. Well, you know, over the last couple of days we've seen gas prices in some markets across the country trickling up just a little bit. But as you mention, overall the trend is going down. For some people, that means a return to old habits. After months of severe pain at the pump, call it the recovery."

A recovery? But wait, it was CNN’s Jack Cafferty who warned on August 30, 2006 about impending doom after the elections:

Jack Cafferty: "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....The interesting thing to watch on that story about gas prices is what happens to them right after the midterms..."

Well, falling gas prices didn’t seem to help the GOP. Shouldn’t "Big Oil" be "increasing" prices now? On September 25, "American Morning" reporter Ali Velshi seriously entertained the concerns of liberal bloggers on the subject:

Ali Velshi: "Are lower gas prices a Republican plot? This blogger wonders if Republicans are trying to soften voters, who have spent the last year angry about high prices. [Reads from websites] 'I predict it will work, by the way. The Republicans will retain control of Congress.’ ‘Those Republicans need all the help they can get, and big oil is doing the best they can to assist.’"

But that was then, and now Democrats are in control of Congress. So, expect to hear more about how falling prices constitute "a recovery."

Finally, it needs to be noted that Mr. Lothian’s report also featured another set of liberal talking points, the idea that only high gas costs for a sustained period of time will force people to stop driving those awful SUVs:

Lothian: "Other commuters, like Houston Smith, say they'll eventually return to their big cars, but are waiting until gas prices drop a little lower."

Houston Smith (Commuter): "I don't think they've gotten low enough yet to even enjoy driving that truck the way I'd like to."

Lothian: "After all, gas is still averaging more than $2 a gallon. The highest average, $2.48 out West. If prices stay flat, or fall, some experts say more commuters will give up trains, bikes and small cars. What will change this cycle?"

Tom Liddy (J.D. Power): "If they believe that gas prices are going to be high and stay there for a long time, and we haven't seen that yet."

Lothian: "And experts say not just staying high for a long period of time but, perhaps, hitting a shocking level like $4 a gallon. Something like that, they believe, could cause people to make lifestyle changes for a lifetime."

A complete transcript of the segment, which aired on November 15 at 7:22a.m., follows:

Miles O'Brien: "A week away from your road trip over the interstate and through the malls to grandmother's house. A check of what it will cost you to fill up your sleigh now. Triple A reports the national average of unleaded gas now at $2.22 a gallon. Shoot, grandmother could live further away, or farther away, I guess. And with prices falling more people are heading back to the bigger rides. ‘American Morning's Dan Lothian joining us from Washington with more on that. Hello, Dan."

Dan Lothian: "Good morning, Miles. Well, you know, over the last couple of days we've seen gas prices in some markets across the country trickling up just a little bit. But as you mention, overall the trend is going down. For some people, that means a return to old habits. After months of severe pain at the pump, call it the recovery."

Tom Liddy (J.D. Power): "When there's been a gas price hike, people have moved to small cars, but then they very quickly, in the United States, when gas prices go down, get big vehicles very quickly regain favor."

Lothian: "With gas prices well off their highs nationwide, some experts say more and more Americans seem to be pulling into SUV dealerships."

Joe Wiesenfelder: "From what we see Americans have very short memories."

Lothian: "Sales Manager David Melkonian sees evidence firsthand."

David Melkonian: "They're telling you that, gee, prices of gas is down, now it makes it a little bit more comfortable to buy a vehicle like this."

Lothian: "Industry analyst J.D. Power says customer loyalty for bigger vehicles is on the rise. Internet site Cars.com says it is traffic is shifting.

Joe Wiesenfelder: "We're seeing people search much less for hybrids and the smallest cars."

Lothian: "Still, some people, like Bruce McCarthy, are holding on to habits they adopted during the recent run on gas prices."

Bruce McCarthy (Commuter): "I'm now working at home and taking the train because it's a better solution."

Lothian: "Other commuters, like Houston Smith, say they'll eventually return to their big cars, but are waiting until gas prices drop a little lower."

Houston Smith (commuter): "I don't think they've gotten low enough yet to even enjoy driving that truck the way I'd like to."

Lothian: "After all, gas is still averaging more than $2 a gallon. The highest average, $2.48 out West. If prices stay flat, or fall, some experts say more commuters will give up trains, bikes and small cars. What will change this cycle?"

Liddy: "If they believe that gas prices are going to be high and stay there for a long time, and we haven't seen that yet."

Lothian: "And experts say not just staying high for a long period of time but, perhaps, hitting a shocking level like $4 a gallon. Something like that, they believe, could cause people to make lifestyle changes for a lifetime -- Miles."

O'Brien: "How quickly we forget. It really is interesting. Tell us about the dealer incentives. Is that part of this equation as well?"

Lothian "You know, that's a good point. It really is part of the equation because when gas prices were so high, a lot of people weren't buying these vehicles, so they were sitting on the lots. The sales weren't being made. Now there are a lot of those vehicles out there. So to entice people they have a lot of great incentives. People are sitting back saying I can get a good deal on an SUV and they buy it."

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