Tuesday's "Good Morning America" went into hyperbole meltdown over high gas prices. According to various anchors and reporters, Americans are foregoing church, prescription drugs and breakfast in order to cope. In a tease at the show's open, Co-host Diane Sawyer fretted, "As gas prices balloon, 12 cents in just one week, some Americans tell you how they skip breakfast and drugs just to drive." News anchor Chris Cuomo solemnly informed viewers of the "tough choice" many Americans face: "Food or fuel?"
Cuomo then introduced reporter Bianna Golodryga to explain "the sacrifices people are now making." Included in those sacrifices was one Juan Martinez who told Golodryga "Our church is approximately 35, 40 miles away. We've really cut down on the amount of times that we've come into service since the price has gone up." Now, as Golodryga admitted, this clip was actually from November of 2007, during a previous GMA segment about gas prices causing people to skip church and possibly cancel Christmas. So, ABC has resorted to recycling gas horror stories? Could that mean, perhaps, there's not enough of them to go around?
Not content with showing viewers how high gas prices are negatively effecting Mr. Martinez's "relationship with God," Golodryga also intoned, "Some people even say that they are changing their diets, cutting down on costly prescription drugs or walking instead of driving to the local grocery store." The ABC correspondent then proceeded to read two e-mails from viewers who claimed that they were having smaller breakfast meals or skipping after-school activities for their children. (However, there was no mention of the people who weren't taking their medications.)
Now, certainly, gas prices are high and this would obviously be difficult for those with lower incomes. But if "Good Morning America" is going to hyperventilate about Americans cutting down on God, drugs and breakfast, perhaps they should have more evidence then just two anecdotal examples.
GMA's story is reminiscent of a famous 2001 item in Newsweek's "Conventional Wisdom" section about the Bush tax cuts (as recounted in an August, 28, 2001 CyberAlert posting):
-- Bush (Down arrow): "Adios, surplus. When retired boomers dine on dog food, will they say thanks for that $600?" [Emphasis added]
A transcript of the April 22, 2008 segment, which aired at 7:14am, follows:
DIANE SAWYER: As gas prices balloon, 12 cents in just one week, some Americans tell you how they skip breakfast and drugs just to drive.
CHRIS CUOMO: We begin with the tough choice many families are now facing. Food or fuel? That's the reality as prices continue their steady climb. Oil hit another record just this morning. So, our Bianna Golodryga is in New Jersey to show us the sacrifices people are now making. Good morning, Bianna.
BIANNA GOLODRYGA: Good morning, Chris. As we speak, the price of gas at this New Jersey station is going up five cents. You can see the gas station owner Joe changing the price right now. Take a look at this, $75 is what the last customer paid here and you can imagine the sacrifices Americans are having to make to be able to afford gas at that price.
JUAN MARTINEZ: Our church is approximately 35, 40 miles away. We've really cut down on the amount of times that we've come into service since the price has gone up.
GOLODRYGA: That was Juan Martinez last November, discussing the effect high gas prices were having on his family's relationship with God. Since then, the average price for a gallon of gas has skyrocketed 12 percent nationwide, from $3.08 a gallon to $3.51. From San Francisco, where at least 15 gas stations have shattered the $4 per gallon mark, to Kansas City where Americans are feeling the pinch of record-high gas prices. V Smith e-mailed her story to our Kansas City affiliate KNBC. "I have had to cut back on after-school activities for my daughters because I cannot afford to take them or pay for the activities anymore." Some people even say that they are changing their diets, cutting down on costly prescription drugs or walking instead of driving to the local grocery store. All in hopes of saving money on gasoline. It's a burden for millions of families, but especially for the little ones, as Barbara Hatfield writes, "It's not fair to have to tell your children that we have to eat a smaller meal this evening or skip breakfast because we had to buy gas." One way Juan Martinez in Phoenix was able to avoid paying the high prices was actually shopping at wholesale clubs like Sam's, Costco and BJs. He actually saved a lot of money, going from $3.30 a gallon to $3.18 a gallon. This is something, Chris, that a lot of people are actually going out and driving out to the outer parts of town to be able to get cheaper gas and going to some of these wholesale shops.
CUOMO: I'm sure. I'm sure.