Paul Gregory

Is There a Clearer Case of Media Bias? Gas Prices under Bush and Obama

The Times’ March 1 news piece Tensions Raise Specter of Gas at $5 a Gallon reflects an obvious media bias. As the Times news piece claims, rising gas prices are the result of international events over which President Obama has no control. I cite the first paragraph:

With no clear end to tensions with Iran and Syria and rising demand from countries like China, gas prices are already at record highs for the winter months — averaging $4.32 in California and $3.73 a gallon nationally on Wednesday, according to AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report. As summer approaches, demand for gasoline rises, typically pushing prices up around 20 cents a gallon. And gas prices could rise another 50 cents a gallon or more, analysts say, if the diplomatic and economic standoff over Iran’s nuclear ambitions escalates into military conflict or there is some other major supply disruption.

Under Bush, the “rising gas price” news story would invariably mention Bush by name, Big Oil, and his long-standing ties to the oil industry.

I was about to document this media bias by searching news archives, when I found an excellent blog of March 1 by Julia Seymour, whose main results I cite below:

The Business & Media Institute examined all the broadcast network news reports mentioning gas prices during each of those time periods and found ABC, CBS and NBC aired more than 2 ½ times more stories (63 stories to 24) in 2008 than they did in 2011.

But it was more than just the amount of coverage that showed the media’s willingness to spin gas prices one way under Bush, and another way under Obama. In 2008, network reporters mentioned "Bush," the "president" or "government" in gas price reports 15 times more often than in 2011 under President Obama (15 stories to 1).

Congratulations to Julia Seymour for excellent reporting and analysis.

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