Couric, Williams Back Obama’s Economic ‘Turmoil’ By Ignoring Positive Growth

As my colleague Brent Baker noted last night, the August 28 CBS "Evening News" and NBC "Nightly News" broadcasts completely ignored the Commerce Department's upward revision of second quarter gross domestic product growth.

The department announced August 28 the economy grew at 3.3 percent in the second quarter of 2008, up from initial reports of 1.9 percent. The revised number exceeded expectations for growth, which economists had put at around 2.3 percent.

But to announce the good economic news - the growth was well above the 1.9-percent average quarterly growth over the last two years - would have undercut one of the main themes of Sen. Barack Obama's speech accepting the Democrats' presidential nominations: an economy in turmoil.

"We meet at one of those defining moments - a moment when our nation is at war, our economy in turmoil, and the American promise has been threatened once more," Obama told the crowd of more than 80,000 Democrats at Invesco Field in the Denver.

He later said that America "cannot turn back ... not with an economy to fix." He criticized Republican Sen. John McCain's for comments Sen. Phil Gramm - then a top economic advisor to McCain's campaign - made in July. Gramm told reporters the nation was in the midst of a "mental recession," not an actual recession and criticized the media and political leaders for creating a "nation of whiners."

How convenient for Obama that two of the three broadcast networks didn't bother to report news showing signs of a economic turnaround on the night he delivered a major speech relying on the perception of an economy in "turmoil."

While CBS and NBC were busy ignoring the good news, ABC's Charles Gibson did mention it. But he made sure to remind viewers that the U.S. dollar has weakened in recent months - although he didn't mention the Federal Reserve's role in its decline.

 "Other news, a surprisingly strong reading on the economy," Gibson said. "The gross domestic product grew at a rate of 3.3 percent in the second quarter, helped by those government stimulus checks and a jump in exports because the dollar is so weak."

Obama, of course, is no stranger to negative spin on the economy. At an August 19 town hall meeting in New Mexico, Obama declared that "economic disaster is happening right now. The network news shows ignored his hyperbole, instead praising him for "sharpening his message."

The media seem to love bad economic news. A report from the Business & Media Institute, "The Great Media Depression," showed that in the first four months of 2008, the broadcast networks compared the current economy to the Great Depression more than 40 times.