Report: Media props up offshore drilling myth

I was almost relieved to see this report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research. I have been puzzling over why the public seems so sure that offshore drilling will lower gas prices.

At TWI, we keep citing government data — the straight numbers crunched by energy experts at the Dept. of Energy’s Energy Information Admin. — that says drilling in off-limits coastal areas will NOT affect gas prices. But apparently, we may be among the few outlets doing this.

The Center for Economic and Policy Research released an analysis today finding that the “myth that offshore drilling would lower gas prices” is getting a “boost from major media.”

The nonprofit research group has found that in a total of 267 TV news broadcasts to date, the EIA data was only cited one time. In 91 percent of those broadcasts, there were no opinions presented questioning whether offshore drilling would reduce energy prices. The center says that this misrepresentation could be winning support for Sen. John McCain, who enthusiastically supports offshore drilling — though, just a few months ago, he opposed it.

“This is a clear case where the overwhelming majority of the media has not done its job, and the McCain campaign is benefiting as a result,” said Mark Weisbrot, co-author of the analysis and the center’s co-director, according to a press release.

“There really isn’t any excuse for the media to ignore the official data on this issue,” Weisbrot added. “It’s like reporting on the economy and ignoring the official data on GDP growth, unemployment or inflation. No wonder the public is confused.”

This analysis also puts into context my piece last week on why the public has it so wrong on these facts.

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Suemedha Sood

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