Sunday, December 04, 2005

Good News is No News

The AP is reporting what most of us have discovered at the pump: gas prices have dropped dramatically over the past couple of months. According to analyst Tribly Lundberg, the national average price from a gallon of regular, unleaded gas has dropped 88 cents since early September. Here in my neck of the woods, the decrease has been even more spectacular. Shortly after Hurricane Katrina ravaged Gulf Coast oil platforms and refineries, gas prices in my area hit $3.20 a gallon. Today, the average price in my neighborhood is $1,85 a gallon, a 40% decrease.

But there's an interesting element to this story. Do a Google search on "Gas Prices Increase," and you'll get 17,900,000 matches. Change the search terms to "Gas Prices Drop," and the number of hits is only 7,430,000. Quite a difference.

True, the media hasn't exactly ignored the drop in gasoline prices. And, to be fair, may of the "increase" matches are found in stories on Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which contained frequent references to the storms' impact on gasoline supplies. But that still doesn't explain the gap between references to gas prices hikes, and their subsequent decline. And, BTW, I don't put much stock in the shopworn media cliche that "good news doesn't sell." During the Clinton years, the MSM seem anxious to report continuing drops in interest rates, a booming stock market, and others signs of economic prosperity. But, when GWB entered the White House, the press rediscovered the homeless and other signs of distress, and Bernard Goldberg (and others) observed. More recently, the NYT went to great pains to find a dark lining in an otherwise silver economic cloud. Coincidence? You decide.

Rumors from Washington indicate that President Bush will go on the offensive in touting good economic news, starting Monday. Not a bad idea, since the MSM seems to have comparatively little interest in that story.

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