How could job loss for 80 small-town residents be a "great story?" When it means the defeat of a "big box" "Goliath" said NBC.
On May 7, NBC "Nightly News" gleefully reported the closing of a Home Depot in Brattleboro, Vt. The closure is part of the company's plan to close 15 of its roughly 2,200 stores due to underperformance. NBC portrayed it as "David versus Goliath," and praised the little guys' victory over the big bad box store.
"Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams called it a "great story" and reporter Mike Taibbi called it, "in a man bites dog sort of way, an unlikely survivor story." (Maybe they're Jimmie Johnson fans?)
"It's not surprising that long-time residents, like John Morse back at the Ace [Hardware] store, collected thousands of petition signatures opposing Home Depot when it arrived four years ago and are cheering now because it's closing," Taibbi said.
The network news broadcasts are to blame for the American people's widely held misconception that the U.S. economy is in a recession, according to Media Research Center founder and President L. Brent Bozell III.
"How in the world is it that 81 percent of the American people believe that we're in a recession?" Bozell asked on CNBC's "Kudlow and Company" May 2. "Maybe it's because the national networks this year, and we've counted it, have talked about a recession over 500 times."
Some of the toughest competition American businesses face comes not from other companies, but from the media. Journalists often exaggerate an issue to make a story sexier. Other times, "consumer groups" work with the media to advance an anti-business agenda.
All too often, those exaggerations or manipulations result in lost jobs, lost revenue, unfounded health scares, unnecessary government intervention or even the death of millions of innocent victims.
The Business & Media Institute has compiled a lit of the Nine Worst Business Stories. The list illustrates the lengths to which the media have gone in the last 50 years to attack agriculture, restaurants, the automobile industry, chemical manufacturers and health care.
It also details the ill effects of those stories, which range from "Oprah's Beef with Beef" to Connie Chung's silicone scare to Wendy's "Finger Food" to the infamous "Dateline" exploding trucks, to coverage that resulted in a ban on DDT. Relive foul Food Lion, rolling Jeeps, accelerating Audis and Alar on apples with video from most of the reports!
Check out the list, then come back to NewsBusters to add your comments and suggestions for other bad business coverage!
The news media contribute to the American public's pessimism about the economy, Business & Media Institute Vice President Dan Gainor wrote in Investor's Business Daily April 4.
"Major downturns aren't just caused by economic circumstances anymore. The news media will have done their best to help it along with years of negativity," Gainor wrote. "They've succeeded in part already. The March 18 USA Today reported a Gallup poll showing that 59 percent of Americans thinking a depression ‘lasting several years' is ‘likely, and 79 percent are worried about the possibility.'"
The three broadcast network news shows compared current economic conditions to the Great Depression more than two dozen times since the beginning of 2008. "Gallup simply heard people parrot what they were told," Gainor said.
He compared media coverage of the economy to advertising's effect on the public's buying habits and called out a Washington Post columnist who went so far as to say that "the best thing that could happen to our economy is for a dozen high-profile hedge funds to collapse; for investment banking to enter a long, deep freeze; for a major bank to fail."
Business & Media Institute Vice President Dan Gainor told the Fox Business Network on April 4 that the government might be intervening too much in the financial markets to address credit problems, and he criticized the media for failing to cover both sides fairly.
"The networks are not portraying at all the other point which is: maybe we're using too much government intervention. Maybe we're using too much regulation," Gainor said. "Instead they're using the worst-case scenario reporting" to support government intervention.
Murdoch "will spend whatever it takes to undermine the Times's standing as America's leading general-interest paper," Raines wrote in the April 2008 Condé Nast Portfolio. He observed that the Journal has already started targeting the Times's strengths - "foreign news, the Washington/politics report, and the Sunday magazine.
Raines said his fear of a Murdock-led takeover is based on a conversation he had with Murdoch in 2002 during which Murdoch suggested the Times "go after hard business news and beat them [The Wall Street Journal] on their strength."
Business & Media Institute Vice President Dan Gainor told viewers of the Fox Business Network that stewardship of the environment "doesn't mean you have to embrace every bit of global warming lunacy that comes down the pike."
In his March 6 appearance, Gainor discussed BMI's new report, "Global Warming Censored," showed that network news shows routinely shut out debate on climate issues, even from scientists' perspectives. In fact, in 80 percent of the stories studied an alternate viewpoint wasn't even mentioned.
And when network news shows did feature dissenting views, those people were often branded as "deniers" or "flat Earthers." Scott Pelley, a reporter for CBS, continued to report on climate change for that network despite his 2006 comparison of global warming skeptics to Holocaust deniers.
BMI Vice President Dan Gainor took to the Fox Business Network Thursday to explain the difference between "depression," "recession" and "slow growth," terms the mainstream media has blurred.
Economists "don't even agree that we're in a recession yet," Gainor said. "But then if you watch the network news shows, we're already up to eight times this year - that's once a week where they've made a comparison to the Great Depression."
“Not since the Depression has a larger share of Americans owed more on their homes than they are worth,” New York Times reporters Edmund Andrews and Louis Uchitelle wrote in a February 22 article. “With the collapse of the housing boom, nearly 8.8 million homeowners, or 10.3 percent of the total, are underwater.”
Steven Pearlstein, a one-time reporter for the Post who now pens a column for the newspaper, wrote February 20 that “the best thing that could happen to our economy is for a dozen high-profile hedge funds to collapse; for investment banking to enter a long, deep freeze; for a major bank to fail; and for the price of a typical Park Avenue duplex to fall by 30 percent.”
“For only then,” Pearlstein wrote, “might we finally stop genuflecting before the altar of unregulated financial markets and insist that Wall Street serve the interest of Main Street, rather than the other way around.”
He didn’t explain how hedge funds collapsing or banks failing would help Americans. Instead, he opted to cheer for a situation that would see millions of people suffer, admitting his was a “harsh and vengeful solution, and there will be lots of collateral damage.”
Vice President of the Business & Media Institute Dan Gainor outlined the media's failure in covering consumer confidence numbers in a February 15 appearance on the Fox Business Network.
"What we're talking about, instead of consumer confidence, we're talking about media competence," Gainor said. "Last year, July was the six-year high for consumer confidence and yet if you watch any one of the three network news shows, evening news shows, you didn't see it."
In an appearance on the Fox Business Network February 8, Business & Media Institute Vice President Dan Gainor criticized the media's refusal to fully report the costs associated with campaign promises being made by presidential candidates.
"You would actually think the media had talked about how much it's going to cost," Gainor said of the hundreds of billions of dollars in new spending promised by the candidates. "And in fact it's quite the opposite."
Aside from some coverage of Sen. Hillary Clinton's massive universal health care coverage proposal, much of her $217 billion in promises has gone unreported. The same goes for Sen. Barack Obama, who leads all candidates with $287 billion in new proposals, according to estimates from the National Taxpayers Union Foundation.
Reporting what global warming skeptics have been saying for years, several media outlets on Friday acknowledged that biofuel production could do more harm than good when it comes to fighting "global warming."
Two new scientific studies suggest clearing land to produce biofuel ingredients will contribute more to warming than sticking with fossil fuels because of the removal of carbon-consuming trees for farmland.
That's not a shock to anyone who's been paying attention. Biofuel has been criticized as an inefficient pollutant that negatively affects even grocery prices. The shocker is that some in the media are actually paying attention to it!
The findings "could force policymakers in the United States and Europe to reevaluate incentives they have adopted to spur production of ethanol-based fuels," The Washington Post's Juliet Eilperin reported February 8.
Investor's Business Daily is reporting something we haven't seen much of in the media since the 1970s: concerns about global cooling. You read that correctly: cooling.
Kenneth Tapping, a researcher at Canada's National Research Council, wants to look for evidence of increased sunspot activity, according to IBD. "The lack of increased activity could signal the beginning of what is known as a Maunder Minimum, an event which occurs every couple of centuries and can last as long as a century."
A "solar hibernation" in the 17th Century "corresponded with a period of bitter cold that began around 1650 and lasted, with intermittent spikes of warming, until 1715," IBD reported. "Frigid winters and cold summers during that period led to massive crop failures, famine and death in Northern Europe."
Be careful where you shop for groceries, for behind every canned soup display may be lurking "Today" show host Matt Lauer, ready to corner you on camera and demand to know whether you're using plastic, paper, or "environmentally-friendly" canvas bags.
That's what Lauer did for a January 25 segment to wrap up the four-day "Today Goes Green" series, which showed the hosts carpooling to work (once), changing one light bulb in one of their homes, and canceling unwanted catalog subscriptions online.
But for the grand finale, Lauer got in the face of the American grocery shopper in a segment filmed in a New York City Food Emporium. He pestered shoppers with tidbits about the environmental destruction caused by plastic and paper grocery bags.
"I'm on the prowl for victims, converts in our growing movement," Lauer said shamelessly, as if bothering people while they're shopping is cute. "Do you have any idea how many plastic bags you accumulate in the average month?" he asked one unsuspecting female shopper.
In a verbal tussle with Fox Business Network host Liz Claman January 24, Business & Media Institute Managing Editor Amy Menefee explained that conservatives are just looking for some balance from the media.
"You get upset when the media is skeptical about certain things and you say that that's un-American," Claman said. "Yet when we're not skeptical you're saying now, ‘Why aren't you skeptical?' Which is it?"
"Well from our perspective ... we just want to hear all the economic sides that are out there which means economists who are talking about, you know, other opportunities, other options," Menefee said about the media coverage of the economic stimulus package. "And there are plenty of economists out there right now who are saying this is not going to do much good."
Billionaire investor George Soros called for more government monitoring and involvement in markets in an interview on CNBC January 23.
"Now we really have to reconsider the whole policy, which has been in my opinion misplaced, of relying on the markets to police themselves," Soros told Maria Bartiromo in Davos, Switzerland, "to recognize the risks. And there are risks which it is the job of the authorities to control, and the authorities have abdicated their responsibilities. So did the rating agencies."
Soros slammed the government for "not taking the right steps in dealing with" what he called upset financial markets. "[T]he authorities ought to move into the market makers, look at the books and make sure that the bad risks are recognized and reassure the markets that the main actors, the banks that are too big to fail, will not fail, that they will in fact be bailed out the same way as Northern Rock was bailed out even if that means wiping out the shareholders or greatly reducing their benefits."
In a "Notebook" entry at her blog on the CBS News Web site Wednesday, "Evening News" anchor Katie Couric boasted of the media's ability to predict a recession.
In spite of the fact that no one knows for sure if the U.S. economy is in a recession, Couric seemed sure the nation is facing economic hard times, and she's proud to say the media called it.
"The economy's going through one of its roughest patches in years," Couric said. "Stocks are plummeting, the Fed is slashing interest rates and the president is looking for ways to fight off a recession. But are we already in a recession?"
Playing off the popularity of its "Ends of the Earth" jet-setting extravaganza in November, the "Today" show on January 22 kicked off a four-day series called "Today Goes Green" to encourage viewers to be more environmentally friendly.
In a segment supposedly meant to encourage carpooling, Matt Lauer, Meredith Vieira, Ann Curry and Al Roker submitted to the degradation and humiliation that is a carpool - even if it is chauffeured. Vieira later admitted they carpooled only once, and Lauer never seemed too happy about it.
And unfortunately for environmental types (and Lauer), the crew would have to carpool every work day for more than eight years to offset the estimated carbon footprint left by November's "Ends of the Earth" series, when hosts jetted to the far reaches of the earth to show the alleged effects of global warming.
That series pumped an estimated 25 tons of carbon into the atmosphere. If the hosts lived an average of 10 miles from the office (Vieira reportedly lives 30 miles away in White Plains, N.Y., while the others live much closer) and it were perfectly efficient for them to carpool, they might save
The economy is so bad that you'll probably lose your job. Just ask "Good Morning America" host Robin Roberts. She reported on ABC January 17 that "countless Americans" are worried their jobs might be at risk.
As proof, Roberts offered a montage of four man-on-the-street-style interviews, in which four expert economists random people expressed concerns about the job market, gas prices and the economy in general.
"The middle class that is suffering the most because you, you're stretched, you know," one woman said. "Every dime of income is to either pay a bill or just to keep a roof and food and gas prices are outrageous as usual."
Another woman complained that "we don't eat out as much, probably, because we're trying to put, you know, more back towards gas money and things like that."
"I think it's a really, really scary time," a third woman poetically declared. "I think that we're only at the precipice
"Today" anchor Matt Lauer told Cramer, "People come up to me and say on the street ... they say, ‘Why don't you stop talking about recession? Because simply by talking about it, you're going to freak out consumers and definitely push us into one.' Is there any logic to that thinking?"
"The answer," Cramer said, "is that we have to point out the positives with the negatives." What a novel concept!
In the first two weeks of 2008, the media have focused heavily on fears of a recession in spite of the fact that two surveys of economists put the chances of recession at less than 50 percent. The media have focused on the likelihood of a recession by a ratio of
ABC, CBS and NBC reported "more signs of a looming recession," "deepening troubles," "new fuel for recession fears," "rattled consumers," "an economy on edge" and "bracing for recession," or some scary variation a total of 32 times just in the first two weeks of 2008.
The segments predicted a recession or reported fears of a looming recession four times as often as they reported optimism about the New Year, even though recent surveys of economists put the chance of recession at 40 percent to 42 percent.
"And the major concern heading into 2008 is that big ‘R' word, recession," David Muir ominously reported on January 1. "When does the mortgage mess, the housing market, lead to that?" he asked, assuming that a mortgage "mess" inevitably leads to recession.
ABC reported "growing concerns the economy may be heading toward recession." CBS mentioned that "when companies stop hiring, it's often a sign we're slipping into a recession." NBC noticed that in a speech about the economy, President Bush
According to MasterCard SpendingPulse, retail sales were up 3.6 percent during the holiday season - 2.4 percent excluding gas prices. But because it's not as big an increase as recent years have produced, the media reported it as bad news.
On NBC's "Nightly News," reporter Savannah Guthrie announced a "dramatic" 2.4 percent decrease in women's clothing sales. She didn't think the same percentage increase was "dramatic," however. Instead, she referred to the overall sales increase as "disappointing."
Other media labeled the figures "dismal," "small," "weak," "bleak" and "a clear sign that the economy is slowing down." Most made sure to point out, like "Good Morning America's" Ryan Owens, that the increase is "the smallest in four years."
Business & Media Institute Director Dan Gainor appeared on the Fox Business Network December 21, 2007, to discuss the media's coverage of the economy. Full of Christmas spirit, Gainor had kind words for two mainstream reporters.
"Even in the mainstream media there are people who get it. Looking back this year one of the big stars whose improvement was surprising is CNN's Ali Velshi who delivers a much calmer look," Gainor said.
"It's nice to see somebody out there saying, ‘Oh, actually the markets aren't really doing that bad," he said, praising ABC's Bianna Golodryga. The "Good Morning America" reporter received high marks for balanced coverage of the stock market.
Six years ago, Joe Cameron survived more than two months on life support, racking up a bill of more than $1 million. He paid less than $2,000 thanks to the health insurance he had through Medicare Advantage. Needless to say, he's pleased with his outcome, and now speaks highly of the program that paid for his life-saving care.
But in a segment December 19, "Good Morning America" portrayed Cameron as a shill for the insurance industry. Host Chris Cuomo called Cameron "a favorite example for the insurance industry," saying he is a go-to interviewee when they don't want to talk about cases like Angela Dispenza, who claims her insurance company refused to pay for medically necessary rehabilitation after a back injury.
If you watched the news in the last 24 hours, you'd think women's clothing sales were the barometer for the economy. All three major networks reported a 6-percent decrease in women's apparel sales this holiday season, calling the figure "ominous," "worrisome" and "a big deal."
The only problem is that the corporation reporting the figures, Mastercard, didn't say it was that big of a deal. In fact Mastercard's SpendingPulse showed a "modest increase" in holiday sales overall, and "extraordinary growth" for eCommerce sales.
But for the MSM, good news is no news, so they zeroed in on one negative to suggest Christmas 2007 is a retail failure. And since Christmas is all about shopping, we might as well declare the whole season over before it started!
On the "CBS Evening News" Dec. 17, Anthony Mason reported "an ominous sign:
In an interview with New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez, Couric questioned his new record-setting contract. The deal includes $275 million over 10 years and another $30 million in incentives, according to ESPN.
"Your new contract is worth $300 million-plus," Couric told Rodriquez, asking, "Are you worth it? Is any player worth that kind of salary?"
A-Rod could have pointed out that Major League Baseball works like any other market - players' services are priced according to what the market will pay for their skills and experience. Someone in the Yankees organization felt $275 million over 10 years was a fair price to pay for Rodriguez.
Rodriguez could have pointed out that he's a two-time Gold Glove winner, a two-time Silver Slugger winner, and a three-time American League Most Valuable Player. He could have mentioned that last season he led the American League in runs, home runs and runs batted in - 143, 54 and 156 respectively.
Or he could have turned the question around on Couric by asking, "Well Katie, you're paid $15 million a year and have seen steady declines in your ratings on the ‘Evening News,' with some weeks reaching record lows. Are you worth it?"