Friday, May 05, 2006

Media Bias on Gas Prices, Economic News

From the Media Research Center:

. . . an analysis of how the mainstream media has hyped high gas prices, and pretty much buried good economic news.

Further, they have tended to blame the oil companies for “price gouging,” rather than educate their views about supply and demand.
During the Clinton years, network journalists argued (correctly) that strong economic growth, a rising stock market, low unemployment and low inflation were the benchmark indicators of a good economy. Today, economic growth is a phenomenal 4.8 percent, the stock market has been climbing for three straight years, and inflation and unemployment are both low.

But instead of trumpeting the amazing “Bush economy,” TV news has downplayed this recent good news while hyping the bad news of rising fuel costs. Indeed, a new Media Research Center study suggests the broadcast networks are not just noting the discontent about prices but actively stoking public outrage.

To measure the media hype, MRC analysts reviewed ABC, CBS and NBC morning and evening news shows from April 12 through May 2. During those 21 days, the networks collectively aired 183 stories about rising oil and gas prices — 125 full reports or interview segments, plus another 58 brief anchor-read items.
And who gets the blame for rising prices? It’s not hard to guess.
The oil companies were TV’s villain. On Today April 24, Katie Couric asked viewers, “Is Big Oil gouging you?” The opening of the April 24 CBS Evening News included this indictment: “Gas price gouging. I’m Sharyl Attkisson with what Congress is and is not doing about it.” On Good Morning America April 24, Diane Sawyer suggested fighting back: “Pain at the pump. Oil companies getting ready to raise prices again. Is it time to turn the tables and tax their record profits?”
Part of this, as the Media Research Center asserts, is liberal bias. But part of it is simple stupidity. Journalists quite simply know little about economics, and have neither the time nor the inclination to actually dig into a complex story.


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