The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Youtube Screenshot

The web page may be perfectly white, but sometimes the old yellow journalism still shows through. Take this article from NBC News warning against how inflation is making it hard for Democrats to survive the upcoming election.

With gas prices up again and a potential recession looming, voters are once again telling pollsters that inflation is the most important issue facing the country, reversing the boost Democrats enjoyed over the summer when the public was more concerned with issues like abortion rights and threats to democracy.

What’s wrong with that? Other than the fact that Republicans haven’t put forward a single idea for how to reduce inflation and women have definitely not forgotten about losing a fundamental right? Gas prices are actually still on their way down. There was a mild rise in the first two weeks of October, but that increase was over well before that NBC article was written. AAA reports an average price drop again this week and has a very different headline on their current article: “As October cruises toward the finish line, gas prices look less scary.”

And the AAA says there is someone to thank for delivering on lower gas prices as the nation heads toward not just the election, but the holiday season. That someone is President Joe Biden.

Gas prices are down, in part because … “the Biden Administration’s plan to continue tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve into December has helped temper oil prices.” According to the AAA spokesperson, that response by Biden “will help take the pressure off pump prices, benefitting drivers and their wallets.”

The real news? Gas prices are down, and Biden is helping to both bring them down and keep them lower. That doesn’t seem to be dominating the news.

Meanwhile, Republicans like former Nevada Trump Campaign Chair Adam Laxalt, who has strong ties to the oil and gas industry and is challenging Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, are running ads blaming Biden for high gas prices. And somehow, the media is not calling them out on those lies.

While we’re at it, can we simply stop pretending that news outlets searching the country for the gas station sign with the highest prices are being the least bit truthful? Because every single television broadcast and newspaper headline seems to be selling Americans on the idea that things are worse than they are. It’s not because they’re all in some conspiracy to elect Republicans. In some ways, it’s worse than that.

In the last 24 hours, I’ve seen two articles and a television segment that featured this image from Getty.

What’s wrong with this image? Well for one thing, it’s very hard to square with the $2.95 I paid to fill up my wife’s Subaru this weekend.

The sign in this image comes from San Bruno, California. California is, almost without fail, home to the highest gas prices in the nation, in part because of special formulations designed to drive down the once infamous smog in California’s cities. But that’s not all. San Bruno has the highest prices in California. Why? Because it’s the area immediately around San Francisco Airport. These are not commuter prices. They’re not even San Francisco commuter prices. They’re the prices you pay when you’ve made it all the way back to SFO and just realized you forgot to stop and top up that rental car.

And the prices on that sign? Even factoring in all the reasons why this isn’t an accurate representation of costs, the truth is that these prices are more than $1 above the prices in San Bruno today. Why? Probably because the image was actually taken weeks ago, when prices were higher.

This is simply an image made by someone scouting around for the worst possible numbers to put things in the worst possible light. In much of the media, even network programs anchored on the East Coast, pictures of gas pumps are always from California, and all of them are from locations where the prices are above the average of those areas. These images aren’t representative of actual prices for Californians, much less the rest of the nation. Using such images isn’t just lazy, it’s scaremongering, deceptive, and plain old bad journalism.

That a side effect of this bad journalism is helping other people who are also lying about gas prices, like Republican candidates, shouldn’t be surprising.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Advertising

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}