THE BLOG
09/04/2007 10:34 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

News Anchors -- Clueless on Oil Prices

I know it's fashionable to beat up on both oil companies and big media, but there seems to be some collaboration going on in the pricing department. I'm just not sure if it's intentional on media's (read TV's) part but as every schoolboy knows, the price of gas, the price of oil and the profits the oil companies take are at all time highs. This makes sense. If they charge more, they make more. Since the U.S. government is owned and operated by them, they can charge whatever they please.

Who's going to stop them?

Invariably, when there is a change in gas prices, TV news reports it and then brings in an "expert" or an "analyst" or even a rep from the oil industry, many times one in the same. After reading the item the anchor he or she asks, as though hearing the topic for the first time, "What has caused prices to go up?"

(Note: that's "anchor" not "reporter" as the two are different, "anchor" having nothing to do with journalism. In Britain, they more accurately call them "news readers.")

The "expert" babbles on about the lack of new refineries or refinery capacity, or that there's been a storm, or they're slaves to OPEC. The anchor looks wide-eyed and swallows it whole, never ever questioning, never asking if we're really supposed to believe this in light of reality.

Is there any proof offered by the "expert?" Does the anchor mention that they can raise prices at will and when they want even more money they do so. Nobody is ever called on these things.

The anchor looks helpless and clueless, unable to ask even the softest questions about why prices seem to go up just before major driving holidays. We know why. Why doesn't she (most anchors are women these days)?

I have seen this repeatedly. I saw it last week again.

This scene promotes the concept that oil companies are at the mercy of some other force. We know they're not. They are in collusion with each other, with the OPEC countries, with the government they put into power. And their hands are in our pockets.

Invariably the anchor asks what the future holds for gas prices. They never seem to know.

They know. Down to the penny.

So the question becomes are these news anchors participants or just plain dumb (or sloppy or lazy, etc.)? Having been a news producer and having had an anchor misread her own name off the teleprompter, I have my suspicions. Her name was "Marsh," she read what was on the prompter, "Narsh."

On the other hand, corporate power extends to every aspect of our life, TV anchors included.
Consider that the next time you pull up to the pump.