CBS and ABC Offer Wrong 'Two Cents' on Gas Prices

Last night, CBS "Evening News" and ABC "World News with Charles Gibson" hyped rising gas prices, saying that the national average price was "just two cents short of the record."Too bad they were both wrong because they didn't factor in inflation. The national average on May 7 was actually 17 cents below the inflation adjusted record high price from March 1981: $3.22 per gallon.Anthony Mason's CBS report also proved he needs a calculator and possibly a math tutor.Mason interviewed Mike Gorgia of Staten Island who regularly tracks his area's gas prices for GasBuddy.com. Mason said Gorgia saves a whopping $500 a year by shopping around for his gasoline.Hold on -- $500? That doesn't exactly sound like a representative example.The average American uses 500 gallons of gas each year, according to the Energy Information Administration. So if Gorgia is an "average American" he must be saving a full dollar on every gallon of gasoline.But he's not according to Mason's report, which mentioned only a 30 cent difference in price. So Gorgia has to be driving more than three times the national average of 12,000 miles per year in order to save $500. Gorgia's work commute is only 10 miles roundtrip. So to do the quick math that Mason clearly did not do: Gorgia drives roughly 2,600 miles back and forth to work in a year. To save as much as he claimed, he’d have to drive about 34,900 extra miles in his free time. That’s the rough equivalent to driving back and forth from New York City to Los Angeles 14 times.Next time Mason should do the math and hold the hype.

Julia A. Seymour
Julia A. Seymour
Julia A. Seymour is the Assistant Managing Editor for the MRC's Business and Media Institute.