CNN anchor Piers Morgan has repeatedly claimed that “gas prices have doubled” under President Obama, echoing a Republican talking point that independent fact-checkers have called "awfully misleading" because the price of gasoline was unusually low when Obama took office in the midst of the recession. Morgan recently said that high gas prices are “damning” for Obama, even though experts say “there is very little a president can do” to lower gas prices.
In the past two weeks alone, Morgan has cited gas prices doubling six times to suggest that Obama is politically vulnerable. But Morgan's colleagues at CNN have explained why blaming the president for high gas prices is “silly”:
In March, CNN business correspondent Christine Romans explained that a gallon of gas cost about $1.84 when Obama took office because we were “in the middle of a very terrible recession.” The following chart from GasBuddy.com shows that gas prices plummeted in late 2008, just before Obama was inaugurated:
And CNN anchors have explained many times that no president can control gas prices, which are set on the global market. Conservative CNN contributor Will Cain has said that attacks on Obama over gas prices “really aren't legitimate,” and that “there are so many factors that are in play, what is going on with the economy and with gas prices, it's just silly to think that we can blame or credit a president for all of this.”
Indeed, energy experts say that blaming Obama for high gas prices is "not credible" because U.S. energy policies have little to no impact on the global price of oil. The following chart shows that gas price trends in Canada have mirrored those in the U.S., underscoring the fact that prices are driven by the world oil market and not by Obama's policies:
The difference between the two lines reflects the fact that the U.S. has relatively low gas taxes, which makes U.S. gas prices among the lowest in the world. According to a recent report from Bloomberg, U.S. gas prices average $3.75 per gallon. But in Morgan's native Britain, prices are almost twice as high, at nearly $8 per gallon.
CNN's Ali Velshi pointed out earlier this year: “With Americans complaining how high gas is going, what they're forgetting is that gas prices in America are comparatively so cheap compared to the rest of the world that we are actually selling refined gasoline to other countries who will pay more for it.” But the U.S. is especially vulnerable to gas price spikes because of our staggering dependence on oil, which the Obama administration has worked to reduce.
Morgan should keep this in mind the next time he claims that rising gas prices reflect poorly on President Obama.