This morning I caught Tim Russert interviewing a few CEOs of oil companies (I didn't catch which ones). Focusing naturally on public opinion, Russert pointed to the overwhelming popular consensus that oil companies are to blame for rising gas prices, not macroeconomic changes, as the CEOs maintained.
He then tried to get the corporate heads to understand the public's position. I paraphase: "When they see Shell, Exxon, BP gas stations with all the same prices, that suggests you guys are gouging and colluding." They responded unremarkably, citing changes in the global economy.
It instantly reminded me of when John Stossel tried to answer a question I laid down concerning the rhetoric of defending free markets. He said he's always surprised how poorly executives express themselves on that subject.
So let me offer them some advice in defending free markets in mainstream media. Respond with something vivid and witty and then use that to lead into your point. It allows you to turn the conversation in your favor. For example, I would respond to that question with "But we see constant prices in butter and no one's suggesting some kind of secret butter cartel. The price of oil is due to changes that affect all of us equally, just as average butter prices would rise if industry could use butter to power its factories."