Dow at 14,000; ABC: 'Good Deal of Worrisome Economic News These Days'

Repeating the downbeat spin employed when the Dow Jones Industrials passed 13,000 in late April and ABC's reporter warned “we're actually overdue for a correction,” less than three months later when the Dow closed over 14,000, ABC's World News put the news into a “yes, but” framework. Fill-anchor Elizabeth Vargas on Thursday night led with the record high close, but fretted that “there's a good deal of worrisome economic news these days -- from sky-high gas prices to America's gaping trade deficit” and “yet,” she marveled, “the market keeps marching on.” Reporter John Berman began by emphasizing that though “the Dow went from 13 to 14,000 in just 3 months,” this occurred “despite those serious jitters about the U.S. economy: $3 gas, a major housing slump -- a drag on the U.S. economy.” Crediting the rise to overseas earnings, Berman pointed out that “while the economy in the U.S. is struggling along in a growth rate of less than one percent, it's racing ahead at nearly 11 percent in China with strong numbers in India, Russia and Brazil as well.” Vargas followed up on a gloomy note, raising “disappointing earnings reports from Google,” prompting Berman to predict: “It may mean that the mood tomorrow won't be quite so rosy.”

Thursday's CBS Evening News wasn't as negative as it was back in April, but in his generally upbeat piece Anthony Mason contrasted the American economy with the international scene: “The U.S. economy doesn't look nearly as strong. Retailers just had their worst month in nearly two years. Gas prices are rising. And house prices are falling.”

The Wednesday, April 25 NewsBusters item, “Dow Soars to Record 13,000 Point Level, But...CBS and ABC Stress the Negative,” recounted CBS's take that night:
CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric fretted that "even as investors are making money in the market, Anthony Mason reports there are concerns tonight about the rest of the U.S. economy." Mason talked with a celebrating stock trader before turning downbeat: "But Wall Street and Main Street appear to be headed in different directions. While the stock market's been racing ahead, the economy has been slowing down. Housing is mired in a slump." Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab confirmed bad news for the overall economy, citing how "we have seen economic growth get cut in about half in the last year, so clearly the economy is not as strong as it was a year ago." Mason ominously warned: "Rising gas prices, up 70 cents already this year, could slow the economy even more."
The NB posting also relayed ABC's negative spin:
ABC anchor Charles Gibson teased World News: "Tonight, the Dow moves into uncharted territory, zooming past 13,000 for the first time. But is the economy as hot as the market?" Gibson set up his lead story by contrasting how "the rise in recent months has been steep, despite less-than-inspiring news on the economy overall." Betsy Stark featured pleased investors before cautioning how "there were fresh signs today of trouble in the housing market" and "oil prices shot up another dollar today, which will only add to consumers' woes at the pump." Gibson stayed on the negative, proposing to Stark: "We've had four years of a straight bull market. Doesn't just the timing of this suggest that there might be a correction?" Stark agreed: "By historical standards, Charlie, we're actually overdue for a correction."
Transcript of the lead stock market story on the July 19 World News on ABC (CBS got to it as its second story after FEMA's trailers, NBC Nightly News as its fourth):
ELIZABETH VARGAS: Good evening. They made history a few miles south of here, tonight. On Wall Street, where lately the stock market has known only one direction, up, the Dow Jones stock index reached new heights today, gaining another 82 points to close above 14,000 for the first time. There's a good deal of worrisome economic news these days -- from sky-high gas prices to America's gaping trade deficit -- yet the market keeps marching on, in a powerful rally that has added tens of billions of dollars to the personal wealth of Americans. ABC's John Berman joins us with today's record-breaker on Wall Street.

JOHN BERMAN: Elizabeth, Wall Street watchers love big, round numbers. And 14,000 is the biggest we've ever seen. The Dow went from 13 to 14,000 in just 3 months. And this, despite those serious jitters about the U.S. economy: $3 gas, a major housing slump -- a drag on the U.S. economy, but not enough to darken moods on Wall Street today.

ELIZABETH MACDONALD, SENIOR EDITOR OF FORBES: Wall Street was giddy beyond belief today. It could not believe it cracked 14,000.

BERMAN: Why the big surge? Big earnings reports from the big blue chip companies. Twelve of the 30 stocks in the Dow posted double-digit gains in the last three months alone. Most of the fuel for this fire isn't from home: 40 percent of these company's profits came from beyond our borders.

ALAN SKRAINKA, MARKET STRATEGIST, EDWARD JONES: Americans tend to focus on what's happening here at home. In the meantime, growth has been very strong overseas.

BERMAN: While the economy in the U.S. is struggling along in a growth rate of less than one percent, it's racing ahead at nearly 11 percent in China with strong numbers in India, Russia and Brazil, as well. As a result, the Dow as a whole is up a whopping 30 percent in the past year. Good for Wall Street moguls and mom and pop investors, with shares of these blue chip companies in their 401ks.

MAN ON STREET IN NEW YORK CITY: I think it shows we have a vibrant, strong economy. So I think that's great.

BERMAN: Diana Amendt is riding the wave. The stocks in her investment club in southeast Michigan, are up 28 percent this year.

DIANA AMENDT: It wouldn't surprise me, with the market doing what it's doing, we'll probably get a few more people that say, hey, I want to be part of that club. So we just might pick up new members based on this.

SKRAINKA: There is a psychological lift and some investors that got out of the market earlier this decade, now might see the numbers and start to get back in.

BERMAN, holding up New York Post: Now this was the newspaper headline from just five months ago: “Stocks in Shocking Nose Dive.” Now, we have a new record. This shows you what a volatile year it's been.

VARGAS: Volatile. But after the market closed, some disappointing earnings reports from Google. How might that affect tomorrow's trading?

BERMAN: Google came back with earnings that didn't meet expectations. Their shares tanked, down more than 7 percent at one point. It may mean that the mood tomorrow won't be quite so rosy.

VARGAS: So don't be celebrating the 14,000 too quickly. Alright, thanks so much John.
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center