“Gas prices slip,” read USA Today’s front-page August 22 headline. Continuing the trend of predicting the news instead of simply reporting it, the headline added: “and the worst may be over for this year.”
USA Today’s Barbara Hagenbaugh reported, “That was the biggest one-week drop in nine months and the lowest price in two months.” But she added all the “ifs” of possible future catastrophes: hurricanes that haven’t yet occurred combined with Mideast tensions.
ABC’s Charles Gibson also noted on the August 21 “World News” that “the price of gasoline has fallen considerably in the past week.” He added: “But the relief might be short-lived. Crude oil prices rose sharply today.”
Back on August 13, two networks – NBC and CBS – were warning their morning show audiences that gasoline prices of $3.03-a-gallon were at “record” highs. “Nationwide gas prices have hit yet another record high rising just over a penny in the last three weeks,” NBC’s Natalie Morales told “Today” show viewers. A half-hour later CBS’s Julie Chen told her “Early Show” audience that “record prices at the pump” could soon “drop in the wake of encouraging news from the Mid East and BP oil.”
The average gas price never even reached the $3.059-a-gallon post-Katrina peak from September 2005 according to AAA’s FuelGaugeReport.com. When adjusting for inflation, the difference is even starker, as gas prices would have to surpass $3.12-a-gallon to set a record, according to the federal government’s Energy Information Agency (EIA).
As Tom Kloza of the Oil Price Information Service told the Business & Media Institute, predicting oil and gas prices is nearly impossible and leads to an ever-expanding pool of shallow media coverage.