Gas Prices: The Media Advances the Conspiracy Theory

By October 26, 2006Energy

We noted here a little while ago a New York Times editorial that — on the way to making its point about energy prices — raised the allegation that gas prices were being manipulated by the oil companies for political reasons, and then dismissed it in the same breath. However, by raising it they gave credence to a lame and idiotic claim.

Well, as our friend Dan Gainor pointed out, both NBC and CNN have done the Gray Lady one better by doing full blown stories on the topic. “Is there a conspiracy?” they scream. A conspiracy? Are they serious? Look, we know that the networks aren’t run by folks with a Ph.D. in economics. But if they have more than an eighth-grade education, they should be embarrassed to even raise the issue. By talking about it, they keep it alive, when it has absolutely zero basis in fact. What’s next, the Flat Earth theory?

Some basic facts, none of which these folks bother to check (We wonder, were the fact checkers fired in the last round of cuts?): The world consumes about 85 million barrels of oil a day. ExxonMobil, for example, controls about 3% of it. Figure the US consumes about 20 million of those 85 million barrels. The price is set on a global level. The big players include a bunch of nice fellas — and Republican-lovers — like Venezuela and Nigeria. Toss in pushover states like Russia, China and Saudi Arabia and you have the five easy pieces that would make for a pretty simple conspiracy, right? Puh-leeze. Like we said in our NY Times post, if anyone could successfully pull this off, forget the President — we oughta make him or her King.

So how ’bout the networks sign a pledge that they’ll not fan the flames of specious conspiracy theories in their zeal to influence the election. If they focus on the facts maybe they can salvage what little credibility they have left.