Networks Insist Oil Is at 'Record High'
ABC, CBS and NBC alarmed viewers of their July 13 evening newscasts with stories about ‚Äúrecord‚ÄĚ oil prices due to tensions in the Middle East. While the newscasts informed viewers about global political problems impacting oil prices, they misled viewers on the actual cost of oil. Adjusted for inflation, oil would have to go up another $10 to reach its record high.
‚ÄúCrude oil prices rocketed nearly two bucks a barrel today to a record-high $76.70, driven by rising tensions in the Middle East,‚ÄĚ CBS‚Äôs Anthony Mason reported.
‚ÄúIn February, an attack on a Saudi oil facility sent oil soaring‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúin April, Iran‚Äôs mere threat to use oil as a weapon pushed crude up a dollar-and-a-half in a day,‚ÄĚ the CBS reporter added.
NBC‚Äôs Anne Thompson also closely linked high oil prices with terrorism, saying the ‚Äúrecord‚ÄĚ oil price was reached in part on fears that ‚Äúthose two captured Israeli soldiers could be taken to Iran.‚ÄĚ If that happened, it would ‚Äúinvolve a major oil producer in this new violence‚ÄĚ and has ‚Äúsome analysts talking about the very real possibility of $80-a-barrel oil.‚ÄĚ
ABC‚Äôs Betsy Stark also spoke of ‚Äúrecord‚ÄĚ oil prices and warned of ‚Äúrecord gas prices‚ÄĚ being ‚Äúa real possibility.‚ÄĚ Stark ominously concluded that ‚Äúlast year at this time, $80 seemed like a doomsday scenario‚ÄĚ for oil prices, while ‚Äútoday it is perfectly plausible.‚ÄĚ
At least the networks were acknowledging forces that impact the price of gas ‚Äď something they have blamed oil companies for in the past. But what Mason, Stark and Thompson all left out was that $80 a barrel would still be almost $7 below the inflation-adjusted record of $86.99 in 1981, as reported by Barbara Hagenbaugh in the July 14 USA Today.
The Business & Media Institute has recorded the media‚Äôs persistent error on ‚Äúrecord‚ÄĚ prices for oil and gasoline and how CBS has previously downplayed the role terrorism plays in the price of oil.