NBC's Hapless Viewers: 'Burgers' Not Ribs, 'Next Year' Only Soup?

Catching up with ABC, which in the past couple of weeks has featured complaints from viewers about how higher gas prices mean they can't afford breakfast and a woman who whined that she can “no longer take joy rides on my days off,” NBC Nightly News caught up Tuesday night with its own set of hapless Americans who claimed they are forced to grow their own food, two who went with burgers (!) over ribs over the holiday weekend and teen girls who make their boyfriends drive them on dates.

Brian Williams noted NBC had “asked people to e-mail us with their stories about how gas prices were affecting their plans for the Memorial Day holiday weekend this year.” Amongst the replies he highlighted: A woman in Nebraska: “I guess it's a good time to become green and start growing our own produce, baking our own bread, and limiting the meat,” a woman from Sacramento: “We usually do rib eye steaks and racks of ribs with lots of sides -- macaroni salad, corn on the cob, baked beans, etc. This year it will be homemade hamburgers with french fries and soda instead of beer” and a woman from California: “Instead of our usual ribs, we are having burgers. As bleak as it sounds, next year we may have a cup of soup.” Finally, “Miguel from Miami: 'Our three girls are asking their boyfriends to come to the house to pick them up instead of using their cars to go on a date.'”

ABC's World News on Monday evening provided a bit of perspective, highlighting how in U.S. dollars a gallon of gas costs $8.55 in Germany, $9.25 in the United Kingdom and $12.00 in the Holland.

If these people showcased by NBC Monday evening and ABC earlier can't handle gas at $4.00 a gallon, imagine their panic if it ever reaches $8 or $9 a gallon. Forget hamburgers, they won't be able to figure out how to afford the buns.

My May 20 NewsBusters item, “ABC's Latest Gas Price Victim Can 'No Longer Take Joy Rides,'” recounted:
Six days after ABC's World News fretted over a New Jersey woman who said she must skip breakfast to put $4 a day toward gas, Monday's newscast featured an even more hapless woman, a Massachusetts resident who to afford gas sacrifices a “much needed” $45 prescription, says she can “no longer take joy rides on my days off” and, horror of horrors, has been forced into “buying store brands instead of name brands.” Now, Rosaria Giamei complained in a soundbite: “I don't get out and enjoy things anymore. I just kind of sit at home and only go to and from work and, like, grocery shopping and that's it.” How about taking a walk or riding a bike?
The segment on the Tuesday, May 27 NBC Nightly News with the selected responses displayed on screen:
BRIAN WILLIAMS: NBC News "In-Depth" tonight, the depth of discomfort in this country right now because of what's happening to gasoline prices. We asked people to e-mail us with their stories about how gas prices were affecting their plans for the Memorial Day holiday weekend this year and did we get an earful. More like a full inbox. Starting with Jenna from Nebraska, who writes:
“It's a sad time in America when people who work hard and should be (and used to be) considered 'Middle Class' are now living paycheck to paycheck and could lose everything if much more hits the pocketbook. What do we tell our children about why we have to stay home this summer? I guess it's a good time to become green and start growing our own produce, baking our own bread, and limiting the meat.”
Katie from Sacramento writes:
“We will be spending a lot less. We usually do rib eye steaks and racks of ribs with lots of sides -- macaroni salad, corn on the cob, baked beans, etc. This year it will be homemade hamburgers with french fries and soda instead of beer. The ground beef was bought on clearance a few weeks ago and frozen -- I'll thaw it for weekend use.”
To which Laura from California adds:
“Instead of our usual ribs, we are having burgers. As bleak as it sounds, next year we may have a cup of soup.”
Joe from Minnesota writes:
“Our plans this Memorial Day weekend to go boating and camp out were dashed by the ever-rising prices at the gas pumps. We decided to save the money and stay home and cook out....Ten gallons in the boat: $40. Twenty gallons in the camper: $80. Payment for camping fees: $45. The look on our faces after we tried to buy food: Priceless.”
Finally, Miguel from Miami, Florida, writes:
“We are cutting expenses in every aspect of our daily lives to accommodate the high fuel cost. 1) Buying in bulk for food: Costco, Wal-Mart. 2) Staying home to watch movies on cable. 3) Vacation will be limited to going to the local beach and coming back home on the same day. 4) This one we really like: our three girls are asking their boyfriends to come to the house to pick them up instead of using their cars to go on a date.”
Miguel, call it the upside of an economic downturn, but your fellow parents of dating-age daughters salute you.
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center