There are at least two schools of thought in economics. One of them - Keynesian economics - suggests that consumption is the most important element and therefore spending is the way to restore a faltering economy.
This is the theory that's been adopted by the spendthrift Obama administration and often the news media that have argued in favor of moregovernment and personal spending.
But according to former treasury secretary Henry (Hank) Paulson, Jr. overspending was a "root cause" of the financial crisis.
Paulson told CNN's Christine Romans on Feb. 10, "One of the root causes of the crisis were the structural economic imbalances that really result from the proclivity of not just our nation, but Americans to save too little, to invest too little, to borrow to much, to spend too much."
The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the monthly jobs report on Feb. 5, showing an "unexpected" decline in the overall unemployment rate. But the reactions from two cable news channels were markedly different.
CNN's Allan Chernoff called it "a little bit of good news," even though 20,000 more people lost their jobs in January. He said economists were actually expecting a gain of 15,000 jobs. So that estimate was off by 35,000.
Chernoff also downplayed a massive revision to the total number of jobs lost during the recession, which indicated that things during 2008 and 2009 were much worse than realized.
President Obama just submitted a $3.8 trillion budget proposal, the largest federal budget ever, which will come with a "record amount of red ink." The projected deficit of that budget would be $1.6 trillion, yet the networks didn't criticize him for being spendy.
To put this in perspective: Obama is proposing a budget $700 billion larger than big spender Pres. George W. Bush's last budget. It's TWICE the size of Pres. Bill Clinton's last budget of $1.9 trillion, who was credited with generating a budget surplus.
Despite the "staggering" size of Obama's budget, which broadcast networks admitted was "dripping with red ink," the reports managed to paint him as a fiscal conservative and deficit slasher.
NBC's Savannah Guthrie portrayed all the excess spending as a way to get the economy back on track saying: "He's asking for $100 billion to spur job growth - things like tax cuts for small business, tax breaks to increase wages - and he's doing this knowing that it will drive up the deficit, certainly even more in the short term. But all economists agree the real way to get a chunk out of the deficit is to increase hiring."
But Guthrie was highlighting only a tiny fraction of the overall budget and failed to criticize the administration for not finding ways to cut more waste.
CBS's Bill Plante also agreed with Obama's spending priorities for the $3.8 trillion budget Feb. 1 when he said the president "needs" to spend right now.
Fourth quarter GDP growth "beat expectations," exciting some journalists on Jan. 29. But a number of economists were downbeat.
The 5.7 percent growth for the last quarter of 2009 sparked media reactions on both MSNBC and CNN.
Savannah Guthrie declared on MSNBC's "Daily Rundown" that "If they could do a jig at the White House, they would." Joining that discussion, NBC's Chuck Todd asked, "So is the recession over?"
CNN business correspondent Christine Romans said that the fourth quarter growth, coupled with the third quarter growth "suggests it [the economy] is coming out of that horrible, horrible Great Recession."
President Barack Obama's plan to "freeze" a tiny portion of the federal budget hit Washington with a "thud" Jan. 26.
Conservatives argued that the spending freeze Obama would highlight in his State of the Union address Jan. 27 wasn't enough. Liberals, including New York Times columnist Paul Krugman called it "appalling on every level."
Krugman denounced the plan as "bad long-run fiscal policy." Of course, this is the same columnist who argued for a much larger stimulus package than the $787 billion one that was signed into law.
After Obama's State of the Union address the spending freeze seemed all but forgotten - and no wonder since the speech was full of proposals to spend, spend, spend.
The National Taxpayers Union Foundation, part of a non-profit citizen's group that works for lower taxes and smaller government, analyzed all those proposals and found that despite the so-called spending freeze Obama's proposals would cost more than $70 billion.
Keith Olbermann should keep a calculator on hand during his broadcasts. If he'd had one, the liberal MSNBC host of "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" could have run the numbers on Jan. 27 following the State of the Union address.
Olbermann was recapping President Obama's speech and told viewers: "Among those seated with the first lady in the visitor's gallery ... a man from Arizona whose company received $99 million from the stimulus and used it to create at least 50 permanent clean energy jobs."
In an attempt to boost flagging approval ratings, President Barack Obama announced a series of initiatives aimed at helping out the middle class on Jan. 25, two days ahead of his State of the Union address.
The networks, which have protected him from public outrage for months, praised the initiative. NBC heralded the move, giving Obama credit for "getting the message" Jan. 25. CBS's Katie Couric said the same thing that night.
"Good evening, everyone. He got the message: it's the economy middle-class voters are most worried about. And with critical congressional elections coming up this year, President Obama today rolled out a series of proposals designed to show he's on the case," Couric said as she teased White House correspondent Chip Reid's story.
The news media have often taken President Barack Obama's side against banks, portraying bankers as the villains. But that was not the case on "American Morning" Jan. 22.
Business correspondent Christine Romans surprisingly blamed the previous day's stock market slide on "tough new rules" proposed by Obama the same day. According to CNN, Obama wants to limit the size of banks, separate commercial and investment banks, implement trading restrictions and "curb risk-taking."
"That's why the Dow is down 213 points," Romans concluded before supplying the perspective from Wall Street:
"But there's a feeling among many who work on Wall Street, many people who analyze and study Wall Street that this might be going a little bit too far," Romans said. "And remember, it might not do anything to help the banks start lending more, which is the whole problem."
Americans are generous people, and they prove it every time a disaster strikes like last week's earthquake in Haiti. They have donated more than $275 million to relief efforts in the Caribbean nation in the week since the quake.
Nearly one-third of that money came from U.S. companies, a point rarely mentioned on the broadcast news. According to the Business Civic Leadership Center (BCLC), 203 companies donated a total of $83 million to Haitian relief so far.
Such positive actions should warrant media coverage, but the networks are inclined to practically ignore corporate charity in favor of attacking the current business target, whether it is banks, Big Oil or bottled water companies.
Despite constant coverage of the Haitian disaster, the three networks spent only 2 minutes 46 seconds talking about businesses donating cash, goods or services to aid the poor nation.
ABC's "Nightline" mentioned corporate generosity on Jan. 14, but her 3-second statement of $20 million in donations (the total raised at that time) was buried in the final minute of the hour-long broadcast.
President Obama returned to populist rhetoric Jan. 14 when he announced a $90 billion tax on roughly 50 large banks, supposedly to recoup "every single dime" of the TARP dollars used to rescue the financial sector.
Nevermind that a number of those banks including Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase and Morgan Stanley already repaid their TARP debts with interest and were forced to take the money in the first place.
Just recently BB&T's former CEO John Allison, who "adamantly opposed" TARP, told Fox Business viewers how the government strong-armed banks like his, that didn't need loans into taking money anyway.
Now Obama wants to assess billions of dollars in yearly "fees" on those firms. Talk about a raw deal.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the six largest banks - Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup Inc., Bank of America, and Wells Fargo & Co. - will bear most of the burden for this punitive bank tax if it is approved by Congress. The tax bill for each bank would range from more than $1 billion to more than $2.4 billion per year for 10 years the Journal said.
Obama claims the 10-year Financial Crisis Responsibility Fee isn't a "punishment," but the timing and tone of his announcement suggest revenge, not policy.
Corporations often take a beating from the news media, but on Jan. 14 CNN found a reason to praise the actions of several U.S. companies.
"Corporate America contributing millions of dollars to the relief effort in Haiti as well as providing some badly needed goods and services," Heidi Collins said teasing Stephanie Elam's "Newsroom" report.
Elam replied, "It's encouraging to see people reacting so quickly and it's a long and growing list of U.S. companies pledging donations to the relief effort. And these are just some of them, but let's go ahead and start with the companies that have all pledged at least $1 million."
That list included: Bank of America, UPS, Abbott Laboratories, Lowe's and Coca-Cola. Elam explained that several other companies including Wal-Mart, the Yankees, and Western Union were giving between $250,000 and $600,000 each.
Unemployment shot up in 2009 from 7.7 percent in January to 10.1 percent in October before settling at 10 percent in December. Behind those percentages were more than 4.1 million people who lost their jobs during the year. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, that's the most job losses in a year since 1940. (BLS could only provide data from 1940-2009)
But don't expect journalists to label President Barack Obama the worst jobs president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1933-1945). The media spent 2009 trying to shield Obama from the troubling numbers.
The magazine criticized Buffett for "doing far more than bad-mouthing climate legislation - he's literally banking on its failure" by adding 1.28 million shares of ExxonMobil to his books and acquiring a railroad that hauls coal.
The network news media cheered when Obama called for restrictions on CEO pay or bonuses that, according to reporters, exemplify the Wall Street "greed" that toppled the American economy.
But when $42 million in cash compensation packages were announced on Christmas Eve for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac executives, the networks couldn't muster any anger toward the highly connected groups. Although Fannie and Freddie were two government-sponsored enterprises whose excessive risk taking contributed significantly to the housing crisis, the networks barely reported the story at all.
Salaries and bonuses at American International Group (AIG), Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and others have been criticized in dozens of network reports in 2009.
The news media constantly misuse extreme weather examples to generate fear of global warming, but when record cold or record snow sets in journalists don't mention the possibility of global cooling trends. While climatologists would say weather isn't necessarily an indication of climate, it has been in the media, but only when the weather could be spun as part of global warming.
And in Pichccahuasi, Peru, bitter cold may cause the extinction of communities of alpaca farmers suffering from pneumonia and other respiratory problems. Ironically, that Guardian (U.K.) report called the region an anomaly "in a world growing ever hotter."
Despite such extreme cold around the world, the three networks are not forecasting a period of global cooling. In fact, in the past three months there has been only one mention of "global cooling" on the networks. That was in an NBC "Today" about geo-engineering (manipulating) the global climate to create global cooling to combat global warming.
The Discovery Channel program "Whale Wars" portrays the radical activists of the left-wing Sea Shepherd Conservation Society as heroes going up against Japanese whaling ships, instead of the pirate-like harassers they really are.
According to Ecorazzi.com, a self-proclaimed "green" gossip site, the group revealed it was using a "photonic disruptor" against the whaling crew. According to WickedLasers.com says that particular laser has been featured on another Discovery Channel program - "Future Weapons" - and it can "temporarily overwhelm a threat's visual senses."
Both Discovery and Ecorazzi paint the Sea Shepherd crew as heroes in the fight against evil whalers rather than expose the groups' extremist viewpoints. The "Whale Wars" Web page describes them as the only group standing between "a 750-ton whale-killing machine and its prey. Whale Wars follows the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society as they seek to end Japanese whaling once and for all."
While Senate Democrats scurry to pass an unpopular health care reform bill by Christmas Eve, CNN did something rare on Dec. 22: they offered two different perspectives on the bill, including a critic's view.
That critic was University of Maryland economist Peter Morici, who expressed skepticism of the assumptions built into the health care reform bill, projected that it would raise costs for many average families and it would add "substantially" the federal deficit.
"There's a lot of assumptions in this bill that are kind of nefarious, uh, and I believe that the typical American family will pay $1,000 to $2,000 more for coverage for a family of four," Morici said.
According to IBD, the Institute of Economic Analysis (IEA) alleged in a new report "that England's Hadley Centre for Climate Change and the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, the U.K.'s two top climate research outfits, had improperly selected climate data from Russia."
IEA's Andrei Illarionov said the think tank's analysis found that temperature data in Russia used by Hadley-CRU was limited to 25 percent of Russia's stations and left out almost half of the country's land mass.
The Copenhagen climate conference is nearing its end -- so far without reaching a deal involving the many nations gathered in Denmark. And even if they get a deal, it might not come close to their own expectations.
The BBC reported on Dec. 17 that a deal "looks more likely following a frantic day of behind the scenes diplomacy," but made a startling admission about the actual impact on temperatures.
So if the climate deal won't actually stop climate change what's the point again? A very different kind of green altogether.
"In the context of a strong accord in which all major economies pledge meaningful mitigation actions and provide full transparency as to those actions, the U.S. is prepared to work with other countries towards a goal of mobilising $100bn a year to address the needs of developing countries," Sec. of State Hillary Clinton said, according to BBC.
Citi may be ready to pay back the U.S. government, but according to The New York Times at least four groups are still in need of funds from the federal government.
"These companies, the American International Group, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and GMAC, are not only unable to repay the government, they are in need of continuing infusions that make them look increasingly like long-term wards of the state," the Times wrote on Dec. 16.
That scenario, the Times said, makes the risk to taxpayers much higher. But the Times failed to provide important context about two of those "companies:" Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
If you're not buying the hype surrounding global warming, you're not alone. Polls show fewer people believe there is "solid evidence" the Earth is warming so Wired magazine consulted a shrink to find out why.
Brandon Keim wrote a one-sided piece entitled, "The Psychology of Climate Change Denial," for Wired.com on Dec. 9. In it he argued: "Even as the science of global warming gets stronger, fewer Americans believe it's real. In some ways, it's nearly as jarring a disconnect as enduring disbelief in evolution or carbon dating."
Keim then consulted sociologist Kari Marie Norgaard of Whitman College, who said, "Climate change is disturbing. It's something we don't want to think about. So what we do in our everyday lives is create a world where it's not there, and keep it distant."
Despite teasing the segment as NASA's "ClimateGate of its own," CNN's "American Morning" did its best to present global warming as the problem and discredit skeptics by misreporting their funding on Dec. 10.
Correspondent Jim Acosta reported that NASA's climate data "shows the earth is getting hotter and changing fast" and quoted NASA scientist Thorsten Markus, who claimed rising temperatures could lead to an "ice-free" summer in the Arctic.
Markus asserted that there is "no doubt there is global warming," which Acosta used to segue into his unfair treatment of climate skeptics.
Each year the Business & Media Institute looks back on the year's news and selects the top 10 worst economic myths. Here is our 2009 list:
10. CBS, NY Times Support Ecuadorian Shakedown of U.S. oil company 9. Media Fail to Scrutinize Obama's Job Claims 8. Government Stimulus is the Answer to Our Economic Problems 7. No Tax Increases for the Middle Class 6. The Recession was Over ... by July. 5. Cash for Clunkers was a ‘Success' 4. Reagan vs. Obama on Jobs: Same Rate, Different Story 3. Health Care Reform will be ‘Deficit Neutral' 2. Tea Parties aren't made up of grassroots protestors; they're just ‘Astroturf.' 1. ClimateGate
10. CBS, NY Times Support Ecuadorian Shakedown of U.S. oil company.
Media myth: Chevron is responsible for abandoned oil wells across Ecuador.
A South American country is trying to squeeze $27 billion out of Chevron for environmental cleanup from discarded oil wells - all with the help of the U.S. news media.
CBS "60 Minutes" and The New York Times took the side of "eco-radicals" at the Amazon Defense Coalition who have filed suit against Chevron, even though the government of Ecuador signed off on the company's cleanup actions more than 10 years ago.
If ABC, NBC and CBS's judgment is correct, Tiger Woods's infidelity is more important than a climate change scandal involving high profile scientists, potentially ‘manipulated' data, and censorship of skeptics among the scientific community.
How much more important? Over 15 times. Despite the impending Copenhagen climate conference, the networks ignored the ClimateGate scandal for 13 straight days on morning and evening news programs. Finally, they got around to mentioning it in four stories during the weekend of Dec. 4 - Dec. 6 as reported on Newsbusters
Even in those climate stories reporters made sure to inform the public that, despite the Climategate revelations, "the science is solid" and "the evidence is overwhelming that man is behind climate change." On ABC, Clayton Sandell mentioned the e-mails stolen from the University of East Anglia Dec. 6, but without including any of the disturbing quotes about using a "trick" to "hide the decline" in temperature, or bullying scientific publications to keep skeptics' work from being peer reviewed.
It's been nearly two weeks since a scandal shook many people's faith in the scientists behind global warming alarmism. The scandal forced the University of East Anglia (UK) to divulge that it threw away raw temperature data and prompted the temporary resignation of Phil Jones of the university's Climate Research Unit.
Despite that resignation and calls by a U.S. senator to investigate the matter, ABC, CBS and NBC morning and evening news programming has remained silent - not mentioning a word about the scandal since it broke on Nov. 20, even as world leaders including President Barack Obama prepare to meet in Copenhagen, Denmark next week to promote a pact to reduce greenhouse gases.
MRC's President Brent Bozell called the networks' silence a "cover-up" Dec. 2.
Other news outlets, including The New York Times, Washington Post, CNN and Associated Press have deemed ClimateGate worthy of reporting, but the networks were too busy reporting on celebrity car accidents and the killer whale that ate a great white shark. Instead of airing a broadcast news segment that might inform the public about the science scandal, both ABC and CBS relegated the story to their Web sites. There was one mention of the scandal on ABC's Sunday talk show: "This Week with George Stephanopoulos."
Members of the self-proclaimed fastest-growing union in North America have started fights at town hall meetings, share office space with ACORN and spent over $60 million to elect President Barack Obama.
The left-wing, 2.1 million-member Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and its president, Andy Stern, spent much of 2009 campaigning for health care reform that would include a government-run insurance plan, and for the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), which would make it easier to unionize. Critics of EFCA say it would result in worker intimidation (not something that would bother SEIU, if its recent history is any guide).
Well-connected, Stern was the most frequent White House visitor in the first six months of Obama's presidency.
But ABC, NBC and CBS haven't reported any of those things. In fact, a search of Nexis transcripts for all of 2009 only turned up one story mentioning either SEIU or Andy Stern. That was an Aug. 20 story from Jake Tapper of ABC which identified Stern as "a close ally of the President's and the leader of a major union."
On any other day, NBC "Nightly News" would be attacking coal for being a dirty pollutant and advocating reliance on other forms of energy.
But on Nov. 15, as it began the first of its "Our Planet" segments for green week, the network used coal power as part of the argument in favor of destroying manmade dams.
"This is what the dams harness: the power of the Elwha to generate electricity. Impressive, even vital 100 years ago. But today the dams are no longer needed. Now with coal, wind and solar power, repairing the dams is just too expensive," said chief environmental correspondent Anne Thompson.
Thompson has often attacked coal power on NBC. On Feb. 21, 2009 she offered viewers plenty of reasons why building a much needed coal plant in Nevada was a bad idea. She has also supported the idea of capping carbon emissions, which would increase the cost of coal power.
But in this segment, Thompson presented the destruction of hydroelectric dams as a positive thing, bringing rivers back "to their natural state" for the sake of fish.
According to Dimon, regulators should be given "authority to facilitate failures," wipe out shareholders and unsecured creditors, fire management and liquidate assets.
Dimon said this is better than the alternative: "This is challenging but worth doing. The alternatives, neither of which is acceptable, are to perpetuate the politically, economically and ethically bankrupt "too big to fail" idea, or to try to impose artificial limits on the size of U.S. financial institutions."
Capitalism may "offer" freedom, but it doesn't provide it according to British actor and liberal activist Ian McKellen.
McKellen was discussing his latest role as "Number Two," in AMC's reinvention of the Cold War show "The Prisoner." The liberal actor told Associated Press that his character embodies "the drawbacks of capitalism."
"Capitalism offers you freedom, but far from giving people freedom, it enslaves them. That's part of the show's message," McKellen said.
That's a very different message from the 1960s original British television series which pitted individual rights and freedom against collectivism and state control.