Republicans have taken aim at the media, deeply offended by the scrutiny their surprise Vice Presidential nominee is getting. But a new analysis from the Center for Economic and Policy Research shows the GOP ought to be saying "thank you" instead.
The report released today -- -- demonstrates how the myth that offshore drilling would lower gas prices has gotten a big boost from major media.
Considering the repeated chants of "Drill, Baby, Drill!" that filled the GOP convention hall last night, that's a major assist courtesy of ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN and Fox.
The media blew the drilling story, according to CEPR, because they failed to report a key US government statistic.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Agency (EIA) projects that (offshore) drilling would add some 200,000 barrels of oil per day at peak production in about 20 years. This is about 0.2 percent of world production, and the EIA describes this as too small to have any significant effect on oil prices.
Yet CEPR found that the major broadcast media ignored this fact when reporting on John McCain's platform argument that offshore drilling would reduce gas prices. Of 267 television news broadcasts that reported on the drilling proposal, only one cited the truth available in the the Energy Information Agency data. Also, in 91 percent of the news programs in this sample, there was not even an opposing opinion presented.
Just as economic reporting regularly uses data (unemployment, inflation, GDP, trade) from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, or ureau of Labor Statistics, reporting on energy relies on data from the EIA.....
In the case of a very prominent and widely reported public debate over drilling in nvironmentally sensitive areas, which received widespread attention, it is thus reasonable to expect that the media would provide its audience with information from the country’s most authoritative source on energy statistics.
The CEPR report notes that 56% of Americans still get their news from television, and so arrived at this conclusion:
Major media outlets provided daily repetition of the false claim that expanded drilling in environmentally sensitive zones would significantly lower gasoline prices. At the same time, hese outlets failed to report the official data....which showed that these claims were false.
There can be little doubt hat this reporting had a significant impact on public opinion, and contributed to the widespread misunderstanding reflected in polling data. In so doing, the major media exerted very significant influence on an important matter of national policy. The media have most likely changed the debate and political climate in a way that would not have been possible if they had simply reported the most important official data, thereby showing that the central claim in this debate was false.
The convention has already included some of the most intense attacks against journalists by a campaign in memory, with Mr. McCain’s aides accusing them of biased, sexist and generally unfair coverage of his running mate.
Maybe the media will correct their mistakes in the months ahead.