Lamar Smith Column: Media Downplaying Gas Prices to Boost Obama

March 9th, 2012 5:51 PM

The issue of rising costs at the gas pump is a reality many American families are fighting with daily. Americans drive to visit family, friends, or to go to work every day to help provide the American dream for their family. The cost to fill up their cars has a great effect on their daily lives. The national media’s coverage of the rising costs has been anything but balanced. The national media should report the facts about the rise in gas prices objectively and let the people make their own decisions.

Instead, the national media repeatedly downplays and defends the rising cost of gasoline. A recent study by the Business and Media Institute (BMI) found that news coverage of gas prices are four times less likely under this administration than under the previous.

In April of 2008, national gas prices were similar to what they are now. However, there are no similarities in how the national media has covered this issue this year. Gas prices hit a record high for the month of February. Still, networks such as ABC, CBS, and NBC did not see this as being as news worthy as they did in 2008.

BMI found that news briefs, headlines and stories about the cost of gasoline surfaced on these three stations a total of 21 times from January 20 to February 20, 2012. BMI also surveyed a time period during the previous administration when gas prices were the same price. It found that from March 24 to April 24, 2008, gas prices were mentioned a total 97 times. That is over four times more stories under the Bush Administration than under the Obama Administration.

The tone of the stories was also very different. Under the previous administration, gas prices were “skyrocketing” as “wallets were running on empty.” People were forced to make the “tough choice” between food or fuel. Today, “we’re seeing gas prices creep up every single week.” The national media’s coverage of Gas prices during the Obama Administration are mostly matter-of-fact stories. They focus on the fact that gas prices may hinder economic recovery, but do not go into much detail about its effects on every day Americans. Coverage under the Bush Administration was exactly the opposite. Many stories would show the rising costs to be the cause of severe hardships amongst many Americans.

Americans deserve to hear objective coverage of today’s current events, not a bias and opinionated interpretation of them. We need to remind the media of their profound obligation to provide the American people with the facts, rather than tell them what to think.