AP and Yahoo’s Misleading $4 Per Gallon Gas Picture

Have you seen the picture on the right showing a Shell station in San Francisco with gas prices in excess of $4 per gallon?

Well, there’s only one problem with it: this isn’t close to indicative of what gas prices are in the Bay Area. Not even close.

Yet, the following was captioned next to this Associated Press picture at Yahoo Thursday (h/t NB reader Brian Mortimer, emphasis added):

High gas prices are posted at a Shell gas station in San Francisco, Thursday, May 10, 2007. With gasoline prices poised to break records at the pump, energy futures prices jumped Thursday as traders noticed a gas supply imbalance in the fine print of Wednesday's government inventory report.(AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

Sadly, the caption didn’t make clear that the prices at this station are high as a form of protest by the owner. As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle Thursday (emphasis added):

Putting the price way up over $4 a gallon isn't about making a profit. It's about making a statement to a multinational corporation. After Shell forced him to pay higher prices for gas in San Francisco and jacked up his rent, [owner Bob] Oyster says, he decided to fight back.

"I got fed up,'' Oyster admits. "It makes a statement, and I guess when people see that price they also see the Shell sign right next to it.''

In reality, as identified by AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report, the average price for regular unleaded in San Francisco is currently $3.62 per gallon.

Certainly, that’s nothing to cheer about, but a far cry from the $4.39 in the picture.

Of course, none of this should come as a surprise to folks that have been watching the media predict $4/gallon gas prices for the last two years. As reported by the Business and Media Institute in its special report "Media Myth: Gassing Up":

ABC, CBS and NBC have done at least 70 stories that mentioned $4-a-gallon gas or higher since Jan. 1, 2005. The national average for regular has never gone above $3.06 in that time.

Maybe some day they'll be right.

To read the complete report on the media's fascination with higher and higher gas prices, please go here.

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Noel Sheppard's picture