At the top of Tuesday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams pleaded: "Why now? In a tight economy with so many Americans living on the financial edge, why are they being asked to pay so much more for gas?" Moments later, he warned: "...there's still one thing that could crush it all and ruin any hope for a real recovery right now, and that's the price of gas."
Compare that sentiment to this question Tom Brokaw put to President-elect Obama in December of 2008 on Meet the Press: "Why not take this opportunity to put a tax on gasoline, bump it back up to $4 a gallon where people were prepared to pay for that, and use that revenue for alternative energy and as a signal to the consumers: 'Those days are gone. We're not going to have gasoline that you could just fill up your tank for 20 bucks anymore.'"
Here's how Matt Lauer reacted to the rising cost of gas on Wednesday's Today: "And some bad news for drivers and the overall economy. Gas prices are up 13 cents in the last month alone. There is new worry that we could hit all-time highs by the summer driving months."
Now look at what former co-host Meredith Vieira asked Chevron CEO David O'Reilly on the June 21, 2007 broadcast: "Would we be better off, sir, if gas prices were even higher, if it were four, five, six dollars a gallon? Wouldn't that provide the incentive we need to come up with alternative forms of gas and to stop this dependence that we have on foreign oil?"
So aren't these soaring gas prices exactly what Brokaw and Vieira were demanding? What changed?
[h/t to Ed Driscoll for noticing the glaring contradiction in coverage]
Williams opening to the Nightly News on February 14:
7:00PM ET TEASE:
BRIAN WILLIAMS: Why now? In a tight economy with so many Americans living on the financial edge, why are they being asked to pay so much more for gas?
7:01PM ET SEGMENT:
WILLIAMS: With Americans right now looking for any positive uptick in the economy, any reason to feel good about hiring or wages or industrial production, there's still one thing that could crush it all and ruin any hope for a real recovery right now, and that's the price of gas. Too much of our economy runs on it, too many families depend on it, and very few people can afford to pay even more for it right now. The problem is gas prices are going up, according to AAA, the national average for regular unleaded is up 13 cents in just the last month, averaging $3.51 a gallon across the country. And that's continuing the climb from last month, when we saw the highest gas prices on record for the month of January. NBC's John Yang starts us off tonight on why and what more we can expect....
JOHN YANG: Americans are feeling a big pain in the pump that's spreading to the rest of their lives....And it's not just family finances being squeezed. Analysts say that every 50 cent increase in gas prices takes almost $150 billion out of the rest of the economy. That's bad news during a struggling recovery.
Lauer on the February 15 Today:
7:02AM ET TEASE:
MATT LAUER: And some bad news for drivers and the overall economy. Gas prices are up 13 cents in the last month alone. There is new worry that we could hit all-time highs by the summer driving months. We're going to tell you what's behind this most recent price hike.
7:16AM ET SEGMENT:
LAUER: Here's some troubling news. Gas prices are back on the rise and some analysts say it could get even worse just in time for the summer driving season. NBC's John Yang is in Chicago with the details on this. John, good morning to you.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Pain at the Pump; Gas Prices Soar, $5 Per Gallon By Summer?]
JOHN YANG: Good morning, Matt. You know, we're all used to gas prices going up in springtime, when the driving season is about to approach, but this year the increase is happening sooner and it is going up more than before.