CNBC host Jim Cramer acknowledged on the January 17 "Today" show that the media's consistently negative reports about the economy contribute to the possibility of a recession by lowering consumer confidence and spending.
"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 4-to-1 over the probability the U.S. economy won't see one.
But Cramer also defended the negativity. "We have to report the news," he said, "and there is an astounding decline in business in the country. If we say that there isn't, we cannot be possibly doing our jobs."
No one is saying to not report the news. All we're asking is that the media report all the news, both sides of the news. And even Jim Cramer realizes they're just not doing that when it comes to covering the economy.