"Not long ago, a young Ohio woman named Trina Bachtel, who was having health problems while pregnant, tried to get help at a local clinic," Krugman wrote. "Unfortunately, she had previously sought care at the same clinic while uninsured and had a large unpaid balance. The clinic wouldn't see her again unless she paid $100 per visit - which she didn't have. Eventually, she sought care at a hospital 30 miles away. By then, however, it was too late. Both she and the baby died."
Understanding every nuance of economics, especially as it pertains to the airline industry, can be a daunting task.
However, you would think that NBC's "Today" co-host Meredith Vieira - who has elevated herself to the point where she's worth $10 million a year, according to Parade magazine - would have risen to the task at this point in her career.
In an interview with Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL) CEO Richard Anderson on the April 15 "Today," Vieira asked a question that showed she didn't quite get it.
"I was just going to ask if you could guarantee your consumers that you would not reduce their service or raise their fares?" Vieira asked.
Operating under the assumption that what's good for business is bad for consumers forces the media to give Americans a narrow view of the world.
All three network newscasts on April 14 reported the Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL) and Northwest Airlines (NYSE:NWA) as if it were a conspiracy to bilk air travelers out of more money.
"It's an unsettled time in the skies - planes grounded, flights cancelled, spiraling ticket prices," ABC correspondent Lisa Stark said on the April 14 "World News with Charles Gibson." "And now, things could get even more complicated. Delta operates 1,500 flights a day with hubs in Atlanta, Cincinnati, New York and Salt Lake City. Northwest - some 1,200 flights a day with hubs in Detroit, Minneapolis and Memphis. Put the two together, and passengers could take a hit."
Rather than beating up on home lenders and accuse them of intentionally targeting borrowers who were in over the head, CNN took a more instructive approach.
The April 14 edition of CNN's new business show, "Issue #1," showed that there are ways other than whining and moaning about how you were victimized by an unscrupulous lender. A Brooklyn, N.Y., homeowner on the brink of foreclosure sent a letter to a lender asking for some leeway on her mortgage payments.
"I'm a single, divorced mother living alone with my children," Jillian Simmons said to CNN, reading the letter she sent to Fremont Investment and Loan (NYSE:FMT). "Please lower my rate from 7.95 percent I have at the moment so that somehow my payments will be more affordable and changed to a fixed rate. Thank you, Jillian Simmons."
Never mind nightly TV newscasts are geared toward older generation. Never mind scandals like Dan Rather and the falsified National Guard documents leading up to the 2004 presidential elections have caused people to look for their news from other sources like the Internet and talk radio.
"[B]ut there were so few [good TV news writers] because we became dependent on pictures and that coupled with deregulation of television, when you had three, four networks - and suddenly, there are 20, then there are 50 and now there are 300 and however many - 500," he said. "And as a consequence, the pie that used to be sliced three or four ways is now slivers and as a consequence, everybody is trying to hold on to their little audience and to do that, you got to entertain."
“[P]rices are rising across Africa, pushed up by the cost of oil and demand for biofuels,” ABC correspondent Jim Sciutto said.
“Those biofuels are in fact a large part of the equation,” ABC correspondent David Muir added. “Many farmers around the world, who once grew wheat and rice, now grow corn and sugar cane instead, to produce ethanol a more lucrative market.”
It's no longer profitable for networks to have their own news organizations, according to CNBC's David Faber.
In the wake of the news that CBS is in negotiations to outsource its news division to CNN, Faber explained on CNBC's April 8 "Squawk on the Street" CBS's news division is a victim of an evolving business.
"The news that CBS is once again considering a deal under which it would outsource some of its newsgathering operations to CNN - certain to get those critics out there who say, ‘Oh, this is the end of news as we know it on television,'" Faber said.
"Well, if you haven't noticed, news on television ended a long time ago, other than '60 Minutes,' which is by the way a CBS program. I challenge you to come up with actual newsgathering that is taking place on the networks," he said. "That ship has sailed."
Suppose you had trees on your property that served as a privacy barrier and provided shade for your home. Then imagine your eco-minded neighbor installs solar panels and demands you cut down your trees so sunlight can reach his panels.
You might think: It's my property! The problem is - your neighbor has the law backing him up, according to the April 7 "CBS Evening News." Sounds like a case of environmentalism gone wild, right?
"Richard Treanor lives across the fence, drives a hybrid car," CBS correspondent Ben Tracy said. "Ten years ago he planted these redwoods to provide privacy. Now they had his neighbor seeing red."
"He called us over to the fence one day and said ‘I am going to be installing solar panels and therefore you have to take your trees down,'" Treanor explained.
Congratulations to The Washington Post's Steven Pearlstein - being on the "economy is destined for calamity" bandwagon early. It has won you a Pulitzer Prize.
Pearlstein was named as one of the recipients of the 2008 Pulitzer Prizes, for his columns on the nation's economic problems. Granted, Pearlstein called the fundamental problems with some of the shenanigans going on in the home mortgage early. But, he hasn't stopped there.
If you keep banging the downbeat economy drum, you'll be rewarded. According to the Pulitzer Prize citation for his award, Pearlstein was awarded the most coveted award in print journalism for "his insightful columns that explore the nation's complex economic ills with masterful clarity."
Panicky protectionists are predicting some unsavory possibilities for the U.S. economy thanks to emerging foreign economies with newly created wealth to invest.
Although they're unlikely possibilities, CBS's April 6 "60 Minutes" delved into the potential threat one Chinese sovereign wealth fund might pose to the American economy.
"All together, the sovereign wealth funds of countries like Abu Dhabi and Kuwait have spent over $30 billion bailing out our financial system, which has raised some troubling questions," CBS correspondent Lesley Stahl said. "Are these mostly undemocratic regimes saving Wall Street or invading it? One fund is of special concern - it's new, highly secretive and the fifth largest in the world."
The April 3 "World News" featured a Staten Island family that managed to purchase a $335,000 home, but with only an annual income of $30,000.
"Karen and David Shearon, working people who made less than $30,000 a year at the time, refused to be intimidated and fought foreclosure - claiming the mortgage broker promised them a fixed-rate, low-interest loan on their $335,000 house, despite their income," ABC correspondent Jim Avila said.
As economic issues move to the front of the on-going presidential campaign, the mainstream media have given an increased amount of coverage to what is happening on Wall Street. However, they have portrayed Wall Street as something completely alien to what happens on "Main Street."
"Now to Wall Street, which, as you know, doesn't always like what Main Street likes, and by the end of the trading day, it was up," NBC "Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams said on Oct. 31, 2007.
But something positive on Wall Street and something positive for Main Street are not mutually exclusive.
Coming off his April 2 interview with Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) on his show "Mad Money," CNBC's Jim Cramer told "Squawk Box" his job entails some hazards.
"You know, look, obviously I've had a lot of death threats," Cramer said on CNBC's April 3 "Squawk Box." "They're actual death threats. And, you go to the state police and the state police go to the local police and the local police call the guy and that's what you have to do, or you bring suit against them. I've had to do a lot of that."
Cramer emphasized his active response to anyone who threatened his life.
"You know, the death threats are not cool," Cramer said. "You know, anybody with a death threat, I go after them with everything I have."
On ABC's April 1 "Good Morning America," which headlined one of its segments "April Fuel's Day," Chris Cuomo questioned why oil companies aren't taxed more while they're posting higher profits.
"Congress is calling all the oil companies on the carpet today," Cuomo said. "Lawmakers want to know why big oil needs billions in tax breaks while posting record profits of $123 billion. Consumers want answers too. Gas now runs $3.29 a gallon, up three cents from last week and 58 percent higher than last year. Oil executives argue they need tax breaks to expand production."
Surprise - another foreclosure hardship story on the national evening news.
This time it was the March 27 "CBS Evening News." CBS correspondent Ben Tracy had no difficulty finding one family affected, it's just that they were paid well to be affected. He showcased a family in Oakland, Calif., that had to move due to a foreclosure.
"What they did not know is that the owner of the home they've been renting near Oakland, California, wasn't paying her mortgage, and the bank foreclosed on the property at the worst possible time," CBS correspondent Ben Tracy said.
Cornell University cancer research has been found guilty ... by association that is.
A March 26 New York Times story revealed an organization called the Foundation for Lung Cancer: Early Detection, Prevention & Treatment had research financed by a company called the Vector Group (NYSE:VGR), parent of the Liggett Group, a cigarette manufacturer. Even though the research appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2006, the Times maintained that funding from a cigarette manufacturer discredited the study - not any sort of flaw in the science.
"It sounded promising - a study published two years ago in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine claimed that an annual CT [computed tomography] scan could detect lung cancer early enough to extend a patient's life by at least ten years - a remarkable survival rate for such a deadly disease," CBS correspondent Maggie Rodriguez said on the March 27 "Early Show."
"Much of the effects of climate change have been couched in terms of if or when its effects will be felt," CBS correspondent Mark Phillips said. "Well, here there is no ‘if.' And when is now. So choices are being made. It's called managed retreat. Some areas of coastline deemed indefensible are being abandoned. Climate change is producing winners and losers, and Diana Wrightson and the others here have already lost."
If there was ever an obvious conflict of interest in economic reporting, this may very well qualify.
NBC chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell evaluated the housing crisis solution proposals of both Democratic presidential hopefuls Sens. Barack Obama (Ill.) and Hillary Clinton (N.Y.) on the March 25 "NBC Nightly News."
"Clinton was the first of the two to sound alarms about the subprime mess with a plan a year ago," Mitchell said. "Obama followed a week later with a call for a summit. Since then both have gotten more specific."
"Meet the Press" host Tim Russert asked Bartiromo and CNBC's Erin Burnett if Bernanke was "up to the task" to take on problems with the U.S. economy. Bartiromo didn't blame the Fed chief for the current economic environment, but defended Bernanke and said the foundation of the housing problems was in place prior to his tenure.
"I really don't think you can blame Ben Bernanke for this, Tim," Bartiromo said. "You know, I think that he is, as Erin said, throwing the kitchen sink, doing a lot at this point. And remember, he's a new chairman. You know, so what was put in place before he was actually in this role has set us up for this."
"The American public don't know jack," Cramer said in response to a question from CNBC correspondent Michelle Caruso Cabrera about justifying the move to the American public. "They're just glad they're just not going to lose their job. I mean, this thing was so out of control. Everybody on Wall Street thought they were going to lose their jobs 10 days ago. We're thrilled."
CNBC "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer came under fire recently for telling viewers Bear Stearns (NYSE: BSC) wasn't in trouble just days before the investment bank tanked. He has finally admitted some fault.
"No! No! No! Bear Stearns is not in trouble," Cramer said on his program March 11. "If anything, they're more likely to be taken over. Don't move your money from Bear."
The following weekend, confidence in the investment bank disintegrated. On March 17 it was announced JP Morgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) would take over Bear Stearns at $2 a share after the Federal Reserve agreed to back the takeover.
Cramer appeared on CNN's March 23 "Reliable Sources" to maintain that he meant not to move your money from Bear Stearns the investment bank - not Bear Stearns' common stock - on his stock-picking show. However, Cramer told host Howard Kurtz he was wrong about the general health of Bear Stearns.
We better hope there are some big-time technological advances in the science of home air conditioning by the year 2040. According to the outlook offered by Dr. James Lovelock in the March 22 issue of The Daily Mail (U.K.), we're in for some dire consequences.
"By 2040, the world population of more than six billion will have been culled by floods, drought and famine," Sands wrote. "The people of Southern Europe, as well as South-East Asia, will be fighting their way into countries such as Canada, Australia and Britain. We will, he says, have to set up encampments in this country, like those established for the hundreds of thousands of refugees displaced by the conflict in East Africa. Lovelock believes the subsequent ethnic tensions could lead to civil war."
Some have accused the media of trying to undermine the war effort by swaying public opinion with images of flag-draped coffins returning from Iraq, but the visuals are justified and important, according to Associated Press President and CEO Tom Curley.
Curley was the keynote speaker of the Sunshine Week dinner at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on March 18. Curley defended the media's use of the controversial photographs as "moving and very unifying."
"Well, we've all tried and we've all been turned down, and I think your question is another reminder we should keep trying," Curley said when asked about the importance of those photographs. "We should never stop trying. I find those pictures very moving and very unifying. All of us really, really appreciate the sacrifices that are being made."
One of the criticisms of the media's coverage of Sen. Barack Obama's candidacy - both from his opponents on the right and on the left, has been that he's been given a free pass on a lot of issue.
The latest in particular had been the recently uncovered of Obama's former church minister, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who had made several incendiary remarks about race and the government.
Eleanor Clift, known for her defense of Bill and Hillary Clinton on the syndicated show, "The McLaughlin Group," came to the defense of Obama in a March 17 appearance at The National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
In a response to an e-mail posted on his Web site on March 11, Cramer said Bear Stearns (NYSE:BSC) wasn't in trouble and advised the writer to keep his money in the investment bank:
"Dear Jim: Should I be worried about Bear Stearns in terms of liquidity and get my money out of there? --Peter
Cramer says: "No! No! No! Bear Stearns is not in trouble. If anything, they're more likely to be taken over. Don't move your money from Bear."
On the day Cramer posted that on his Web site, Bear Stearns had a stock price of $62.97. As of noon March 17, the stock price had plummeted to $3.80 a share after the market opened. On March 16 it was announced that J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) was purchasing the beleaguered investment bank rocked hard by the mortgage fallout.
With the housing market sinking and causing panic about the American economy, Moody's Economy.com Chief Economist Mark Zandi thinks the time is right for the government to invest in the housing market.
"They're very difficult to tackle these - but I think they are coming forward with plans that eventually will have some benefit," Zandi said on CBS's March 14 "The Early Show." "But they do need to do more. I do think this is a very large problem, and it's going to require a big answer - probably taxpayer money at the end of the day and I think we're headed down that path."
After Environmental Protection Agency Chief Stephen Johnson's appearance before Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's powerless House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, CBS decided to dole out its own criticism of the EPA.
"Congressional Democrats took the gloves off against the EPA today, accusing the agency's chief, Stephen Johnson, of stalling all regulation on global warming," CBS correspondent Wyatt Andrews said. "Johnson knew this reckoning was coming. Despite his own promise to issue new regulations last year, despite a Supreme Court order 11 months ago for the EPA to act on greenhouse gases, and despite the president's own order last May."
One of the global warming community's favorite alternative energy resources is solar energy. Since it emits no greenhouse gas, it gives alarmists a warm and fuzzy feeling. However, that feeling has affected NBC's global warming reporter Anne Thompson ability to apply basic economic principles to her stories.
According to Thompson, there are two drawbacks to solar power - 1) You're at the mercy of Mother Nature for sunlight; and 2) It's drastically more expensive than fossil-fuel electricity.
"And there is the matter of price," Thompson said. "The Electric Research Power Institute says this kind of solar power is two to four times more expensive than electricity from natural gas or coal."
Do you think the media have blown this whole global warming thing out of proportion by devoting so much attention to it? One New York Times reporter says it deserves a more prominent place in the media.
Andrew Revkin, the environmental reporter for the Times, spoke in Newark, Del., on March 12 for the University of Delaware's Global Agenda lecture series, "Boiling Point: International Politics of Climate Change." He said he thought this issue deserved more spotlight, but outlined why it didn't get it.
"On the climate issue, climate - science particularly - climate, in multitude doesn't get a lot of respect because science is laden with complexity," Revkin said. "Newsrooms crave ‘Spitzer, Prostitute.' That says it right there - where's the complexity? Or - stock scandal, or you know, $107 oil, or the Yankees traded somebody big."