This Week's PBS Quiz: Does David Brooks Read the News?

Does David Brooks read the news?  I’m sure he does, but with the liberal media failing to report on the spike in gas prices – it’s no surprise that this New York Times Republican thinks the price of oil has gone down...instead of the "worst February on record."

On the PBS Newshour last night, Ruth Marcus filled in for Mark Shields, and said that the new jobs numbers are a positive development.  However, the expiration of the payroll tax holiday will be a drag on the economy.  Brooks chimed in saying, “well, I mean, obviously, there are drags. And I agree. Things are drags. But there are also pluses out there, the lowering of oil, of gas prices, that is obviously a plus. So there is a complex mixture of things.”

This is demonstratively wrong.  As the MRC’s own Julia Seymour of the Business and Media Institute reported last month:

Rising gas prices used to be big news, but not so these days. Although the national average climbed to $3.56 on Feb. 20, setting a February record after going up nearly a month straight, there was far less coverage than in 2008. Broadcast networks repeatedly covered the rise under the Bush presidency. Gas prices bounced around eventually reaching $3.56-a-gallon on April 24, 2008.

The Business and Media Institute analyzed broadcast network news references to gas or fuel prices between Jan. 20 and Feb. 20, 2012 and from March 24 and April 24, 2008. BMI found that in the 2008 period there were more than 4 times as many gas prices stories, news briefs or news headlines on ABC, CBS and NBC as there were in 2012 (97 to 21).


Dismal broadcast network reports about “skyrocketing” gas prices filled the newscasts in 2008. There were reports about businesses closing, airlines struggling and truckers protesting -- all because of the high prices. One ABC report said families were facing the “tough choice” between food or fuel. Others said that “wallets were running on empty” and consumers were told over and over that there was no relief in sight. But by the end of November 2008, prices had collapsed to $1.82.

The networks weren’t simply reporting the painfully high gas prices in early 2008 though; in many cases they were exaggerating them. NBC’s “Today” focused on Redwood City, Calif. on March 6 where regular gasoline cost $3.99, according to the photograph NBC aired. The national average for gas that day was $3.19 a gallon. Ann Curry also failed to tell viewers that California has the highest state gasoline tax in the nation, a whopping 45.5 cents a gallon at that time.

In short, the networks went haywire over gas prices under Bush, but have remained mum on Obama. If David Brooks received his news about falling gas prices from sources like the Detroit Free Press, which reported a whopping 2¢ drop in gas in Michigan from last week, then one should ask Mona Charen to replace Brooks on the NewsHour.

At least, she has the judgment not to report on a de minimis story about gas prices in the hopes of giving the Obama administration good press coverage.