Across the Board, Networks 'Cherry-Pick' Housing Data

As of late, the networks just can't get enough of bad housing news, seizing each opportunity to make a point how bad the American economy is.

Each of the network news broadcasts on May 27 - ABC, CBS and NBC - took the news that home prices fell 14 percent in the first quarter of 2008, despite the news that new home sales rose an unexpected 3.3 percent in April from March, to portray the economy in a very grim light.

"The downward slide for home prices is only picking up speed," CBS correspondent Anthony Mason said on the May 27 "Evening News." "The 14 percent plunge nationally was led by Las Vegas, where prices have fallen more than 25 percent over the past year. Miami is down more than 24 percent, Phoenix - 23 percent. Among the 20 major cities surveyed, only Charlotte showed a meager gain and analysts can't see a bottom yet."

"NBC Nightly News" wasn't much better, presenting the same figures and echoing the exact same sentiment.

"If it feels like the worst housing market in a generation, today's numbers proved it," CNBC correspondent Carl Quintanilla said on the May 27 "Nightly News."

ABC's May 27 "World News" at least mentioned the 3.3 percent increase in new home sales amid its negative coverage.

Despite the network negativity, not all analysts see this as the crisis that some in the media portray. In fact, one expert, Zachary Karabell, president of River Twice Research, said the media are making the situation sound worse than it really is by "cherry-picking" the parameters of their reporting.

"They just kind of cherry-pick the beginning point to make it seem as bad as possible," Karabell said in a May 27 appearance on CNBC's "Kudlow & Company." "And hey, you know, news and media are culpable in this because in order to generate attention and audiences, you sometimes have to sometimes ratchet up the rhetoric."

"Well, you know nobody ever says ‘the most incredible home rise increase since x,' which is basically happened from 2001, 2002 through late 2006," Karabell said. "And while it's true that if you bought your home in 2006, you're in a world of hurt, if you bought your home before that, you're still probably in a majorly positive equity position and people don't talk about that."