Americans for Prosperity Foundation, a conservative advocacy group chaired by oil tycoon David Koch, has launched a media campaign to take advantage of high gasoline prices. Polls indicate that most Americans don't blame Barack Obama for the recent spike in gas prices and AFP wants to change that.
But journalists covering AFP's "Running on Empty" campaign, which pins current gas prices on Obama's drilling policies, should point out that AFP's claim is not based in reality, as numerous energy economists, including those who disagree with Obama's policies, have explained.
The global oil market is simply too large for small declines in U.S. production to have noticeably moved our gas prices. It's kind of like blaming your bankruptcy on the fact that grandma didn't give you the $25 birthday check this year.
A recent Ohio State University study concluded that reporters who shirk their duty to referee factual claims in political debates are doing their audiences a disservice. From an OSU press release on the study:
The study found that people are more likely to doubt their own ability to determine the truth in politics after reading an article that simply lists competing claims without offering any idea of which side is right.
Any media outlet that reports AFP's accusations without noting that they are widely rejected by energy experts is contributing to AFP's campaign and perpetuating the misconception that Americans could somehow escape the price volatility of the oil market if only the government would fast track drilling permits.