Media 'Suspicious' about Gas Gouging

It’s déjà vu all over again. Rising gas prices and oil companies’ “record profits” fuel an almost yearly call for investigations into “price gouging.” The media then complain of alleged wrongdoing and fail to ask intelligent questions about the issue.Rising gas prices are “[k]inda suspicious,” according to CBS “Early Show” co-host Julie Chen on May 23.Co-host Harry Smith agreed saying, “It makes you wonder at least a little bit.”As the “Early Show” team blathered about possible “price gouging,” the House of Representatives passed a bill that day to outlaw it. The bill is now before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.The media mostly ignore the fact that there have been more than 30 investigations into price gouging over several decades, and not once has anyone found an oil company/industry conspiracy to jack up prices, according to the American Petroleum Institute (API).When they did admit that an investigation turned up nada, it “boggles the mind” as CNN contributor Andy Serwer said on May 24, 2006.Still, the media can’t seem to get enough gas price conspiracies. Last August, it was CNN’s Jack Cafferty who proposed the theory that oil companies were artificially lowering the price of gas to re-elect Republicans.Yeah, we all know how that turned out.Despite government investigations coming up empty, journalists have remained “suspicious” of the oil and gas industry, complaining about profits and tarnishing their reputation.CNN’s “In the Money” team welcomed the anti-industry rants of Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) on April 21, and NBC “Today” left out the liberal leanings of an oil “industry watchdog” on May 3.In 2006, CBS “Evening News” ignored an announcement by the Federal Trade Commission that found no evidence of oil industry price manipulation, and even reported more price fixing allegations two short weeks later.Broadcast reports on “price gouging” also consistently leave out economists, industry experts, oil companies and the facts about price gouging.

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