First-Quarter GDP, Part 2 of 3: AP Argues With Itself

On Friday, the government reported that the economy grew by an annualized 2.5 percent during the first quarter. As I noted in Part 1 (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), three establishment press outlets (CNN, Bloomberg, and Reuters) pronounced the result "disappointing" -- but not Martin Crutsinger and Christopher Rugaber at the Associated Press, whose headline read "AFTER NEAR-STALL IN LATE 2012, US ECONOMY PICKS UP," and whose content described the economy as having "quickened its pace" as "the strongest consumer spending in two years fueled a 2.5 percent annual growth rate in the January-March quarter."

It turns out that the AP pair's enthusiasm was not only not shared at other news organizations. It wasn't even shared within AP, as will be seen after the jump.

A 5 p.m. "News Summary" item on Friday even used the dreaded D-word:

NEWS SUMMARY: STOCKS STALL AS GROWTH DISAPPOINTS

NOT SO FAST: The stock market sputtered Friday after the U.S. economy grew at a slower pace than hoped. Some argued that weaker growth would ensure the Federal Reserve sticks with its easy-money policies.

Additionally, AP Markets Writer Steve Rothwell showed no interest in dressing up the disappointment in his report on the stock market's Friday afternoon results:

STOCKS STALL ON TEPID US ECONOMIC GROWTH

The stock market stalled Friday after the U.S. economy didn't grow as much as hoped and earnings from a handful of big companies failed to rev up investors.

The economy grew at a 2.5 percent annual rate in the first three months of the year, the government said. That was below the 3.1 percent forecast by economists.

The shortfall reinforced the perception that the economy is grinding, rather than charging, ahead. Investors have also been troubled by reports in the last month of weaker hiring, slower manufacturing and a drop in factory orders. Many economists see growth slowing to an annual rate of around 2 percent a year for the rest of the year.

... "There are some concerns as we head into the summer," said JJ Kinahan, chief derivatives strategist for TD Ameritrade. "In the last three weeks, we've seen numbers that weren't exactly what you'd love to see."

Rothwell must have missed the memo from Crutsinger or Rugaber about how the economy was supposed to be described as "quickening," and not as "disappointing."

Rothwell's "2 percent for the rest of the year" line is pretty interesting, as the only guy Crutsinger and Rugaber quoted promised much higher growth:

Sal Guatieri, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets, foresees more improvement in the second half of the year.

"The second-half acceleration will be supported by improved household finances, pent-up demand for autos and the ongoing recovery in housing," Guatieri says. "We are seeing significant housing-related consumer purchases in such areas as furniture."

So we not only have dueling AP reporters. We have dueling sole experts used by AP reporters.

Here's a really wild idea, guys: Report the facts, and can the personal journalism-betraying "analysis" to which you are so addicted. If you want to quote "experts," get at least two who have opposite or varying perspectives. Do all of that, and your reports will be, of all things, fair and balanced -- if that's what you really want, which I doubt.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.