"Now, to the economy," ABC "World News" anchor Charles Gibson said. "And a word not heard since the 1970s - stagflation. That occurs when prices go up just as the economy slows down - stagnation plus inflation. And the government that wholesale prices shot up 1 percent in January and are now up almost 7.5 percent in the past 12 months."
For years, NewsBusters and the Business and Media Institute have informed readers about how the press, since George W. Bush was first elected, have tried to create a self-fulfilling prophecy by misrepresenting economic data in as negative a way as possible.
This is likely the cause of the public's continued pessimism about economic conditions even as the economy has expanded for 25 consecutive quarters.
On Tuesday, in an interview on CNBC, Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune owner Sam Zell took this thinking a little further when he suggested to "Squawk Box" anchor Becky Quick that many of the economic problems facing the country today are caused by fear-mongering and politicking by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
Old Media coverage of government budget difficulties usually focuses on the here and now, and all the "tough decisions" that have to be made.
Seldom is there ever an examination of how a state or local government entity got into its current fix. Scratch just a little bit beneath the surface, though, and you'll almost inevitably find that an annoying habit of overspending during the good times has left the state or municipality unprepared for when things go even a little bit sour, as they invariably and eventually do.
It's an extraordinarily clever claim. It gets your attention. It's misleading. And of course, Old Media isn't questioning it.
I am referring to the following statement made by Barack Obama in radio ads currently running in Ohio and Texas:
Some CEOs make more in 10 minutes than some American workers make in a year.
In the full context of the ad, I believe that what Obama wants listeners to take away is that "Quite a few CEOs typically, year after year, make more in 10 minutes than some American workers make in a year."
But let's limit things to the literal wording. Start with a full-time minimum-wage worker who earns (rounded) $12,000 annually ($5.85 per hour times 2,080 hours is a bit more than that). How much would a CEO have to make in a year to be earning over $12,000 every 10 minutes?
During the four weeks preceding February 20, New York Times Company stock had been staging a nice comeback.
Lord only knows that the company's long-suffering shareholders, who before then had seen the share price drop more than 70% since June 2002, a point in time that roughly coincides with the onset of the Old Gray Lady's seemingly intractable case of Bush Derangement Syndrome, welcomed any kind of reversal of fortune.
For a while, they had it. From a intra-day low of $14.01 on January 23, the stock rose over 50%, closing at $21.07 last Wednesday.
But on Thursday and Friday, that climb was halted abruptly, and partially reversed. While the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.4% in those two days, and the S&P 500 dipped 0.5%, NYT stock dove almost 9.7%, closing Friday at $19.03.
“Not since the Depression has a larger share of Americans owed more on their homes than they are worth,” New York Times reporters Edmund Andrews and Louis Uchitelle wrote in a February 22 article. “With the collapse of the housing boom, nearly 8.8 million homeowners, or 10.3 percent of the total, are underwater.”
Steven Pearlstein, a one-time reporter for the Post who now pens a column for the newspaper, wrote February 20 that “the best thing that could happen to our economy is for a dozen high-profile hedge funds to collapse; for investment banking to enter a long, deep freeze; for a major bank to fail; and for the price of a typical Park Avenue duplex to fall by 30 percent.”
“For only then,” Pearlstein wrote, “might we finally stop genuflecting before the altar of unregulated financial markets and insist that Wall Street serve the interest of Main Street, rather than the other way around.”
He didn’t explain how hedge funds collapsing or banks failing would help Americans. Instead, he opted to cheer for a situation that would see millions of people suffer, admitting his was a “harsh and vengeful solution, and there will be lots of collateral damage.”
With the symbolic passing of the torch - from Fidel Castro to Raul Castro - comes hope of changes in Cuba, well at least among some in the media.
Even though no one is predicting Cuba to usher in a new wave of Adam Smith-style capitalism, there might be some changes according to ABC's "World News with Charles Gibson."
"[H]e's talking about significant reforms - liberalizing trade, economic reforms designed to ease poverty in a country where the average person earned $19 a month in the hope of consolidating his own power," ABC correspondent Jeffrey Kofman said on the Feb.19, 2008, ABC "World News with Charles Gibson."
“This – Nord, is she as imbecilic as she appears to be as absolutely insensitive to American consumers, as absolutely lacking the judgment to run a federal agency designed and created to protect the American consumer?” Dobbs asked. “I mean this woman is beyond belief.”
"And John Kilduff, who I know you speak with often, as well, Brian, he says we could see prices at the pump as high as $4 a gallon," Burnett said. "And that could be by the middle of February. So it could be anytime in the next six weeks. So that's going to be an increase, and we've seen it across the board, Brian. Commodity prices are going up, and that is causing worry for stocks."
On Sunday’s "60 Minutes," anchor Morley Safer did a segment on Demark being ranked the happiest country in world consistently for the past three decades and wondered: "What makes a Dane so happy? And why isn't he wallowing in misery and self doubt like so many of the rest of us?" Later in the segment, Safer discovered that low expectations of the Danish people was the key to their happiness and he concluded that:
Wanting it all is a bacterium that stays with us from youth to old age -- wanting a bigger house, fancier car, more stuff. And when we get more, there's always someone with even more stuff who's just as unhappy. Some suggest that the unhappiest zip codes in the country are the wealthiest, like the Upper East Side of New York.
It’s interesting that many liberal media figures reside in New York’s Upper East Side.
I see that Bill Clinton is once again taking credit for the "good things" that happened in the 1990s, as Jack Tapper at ABC's Political Punch reports:
"There are two competing moods in America today," Clinton said. "People who want something fresh and new -- and they find it inspiring that we might elect a president who literally was not part of any of the good things that happened or any of the bad things that were stopped before. The explicit argument of the campaign against Hillary is that 'No one who was involved in the 1990s or this decade can possibly be an effective president because they had fights. We're not going to have any of those anymore.' Well, if you believe that, I got some land I wanna sell you."
I also see that Tapper is letting Mr. Clinton's claims pass as if they are undeniable facts, as others in Old Media have done for so many years:
During a live interview with the President and the First Lady from Africa on Monday's "Today" show, NBC's Ann Curry pestered Bush about the Iraq war and its economic effect on Americans as she told the President: "I mean they say they're suffering because of this war."
ANN CURRY: But you're saying you're gonna have to carry that burden, you're saying you're gonna have to carry that burden. Some Americans believe, that they feel they're carrying the burden because of this economy.
GEORGE W. BUSH: Yeah well-
CURRY: I mean they say they're suffering because of this war.
Granted, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) is a trade organization which will, as trade organizations do, try to put the best face on a bad situation. And granted, part of the press's job is to filter through hype and false sunniness to report the truth of what's really going on.
But that is most emphatically not what the Associated Press did with yesterday's NAR report on the state of the national housing market. Instead, AP failed to report overall statistics in favor of reporting individual metro areas; ignored most of the legitimately good news; ignored an important piece of historical context; and, most importantly, and as has been the case for well over a year in the national business press, emphasized reductions in unit sales while de-emphasizing much smaller reductions in sale prices.
Vice President of the Business & Media Institute Dan Gainor outlined the media's failure in covering consumer confidence numbers in a February 15 appearance on the Fox Business Network.
"What we're talking about, instead of consumer confidence, we're talking about media competence," Gainor said. "Last year, July was the six-year high for consumer confidence and yet if you watch any one of the three network news shows, evening news shows, you didn't see it."
Yesterday, the Associated Press, in its ongoing campaign to make sure that readers get and stay downbeat about the economy, made sure that its story on January's retail sales had can't-miss gloom and doom in it:
Retail sales posted a surprising rebound in January following a dismal December, although much of the strength reflected rising gasoline prices. Economists saw the increase as a temporary blip rather than a sustained recovery.
..... The Commerce Department reported Wednesday that retail sales rose by 0.3 percent last month after having fallen by 0.4 percent in December.
Fear not, ye economically downtrodden: Katie Couric is looking out for you.
The "CBS Evening News" broadcasts over the last few months have found a multitude of ways to frame the U.S. economy in the worst possible ways, so much so that Couric compared CBS News correspondent Anthony Mason to the grim reaper on a recent newscast.
Putting all those things together, it does seem to suggest that your industry is looking to make more money off its credit card holders. Do you deny that? -- Chris Cuomo to banking industry representative, GMA, Feb. 12, 2008.
This year's Media Research Center DisHonor Awards haven't been distributed yet, but we might already have a candidate for next year's competition . . .
Give banking industry representative Nessa Feddis, um, credit for not bursting out in laughter in response to Chris Cuomo's question. Yes, Chris, businesses are, well, in business. And the people from whom they make their money do tend to be their customers.
One home supposedly burned because Sheryl Christman, a 38-year-old Michigan woman, was three days short of foreclosure. She pleaded no contest after the Sept. 1, 2007 arson. The other case was a Colorado arson where a man "may have" committed arson before an "imminent foreclosure."
A Yahoo photo slideshow of Ground Zero perfectly demonstrates the bias news agencies frequently insert into captions. Instead of just describing the photo, Yahoo included captions with partisan cheap shots unrelated to the image to score typical anti-War On Terror points (h/t NB reader Larry Jordan).
Out-of-place comments about waterboarding, the downturn in the economy and a criticism of Rudy Giuliani were captioned under photos of a smoking World Trade Center and Ground Zero rubble (bold mine throughout):
Slide 1: Early morning light illuminates the wreckage of the World Trade Center on September 25, 2001 in New York. The head of the CIA said Thursday it is uncertain whether the use of waterboarding, a form of simulated drowning widely condemned as torture, would be lawful if used today against Al-Qaeda detainees.
Call it Today's homage to John Lennon: imagine there're no conservatives. The NBC show so much enjoyed the conservative-free citizens panel it hosted back in November that it brought it back this morning.
As I wrote about at the time, two timid Republicans were pitted against two partisan Dems. In November, one of the "Republicans," Susie O'Neil, claimed that the country is in decline due to the war "and because corporations are totally influencing our Members of Congress and the Senate." Call Susie a Michael Moore Republican.
The other Republican on the panel back then, Sarah Hungerford, said she was thinking of voting for . . . a Democrat. The pair were back this morning, again matched against two partisan Dems who both had apparently become Obama supporters.
Admission: over the course of my NewsBusting, I've actually developed a certain admiration for Bob Herbert. Not that I agree with virtually anything the NY Times columnist has to say, but that I appreciate his directness and the absence in his work of the superfluous sarcasm that marks that of a number of his colleagues.
That said, I offer up Herbert's lament of this morning, "Where Are the Big Ideas?", as the epitome of wrong-headed liberal thinking. Herbert's complaint is that when it comes to the role of government, the presidential candidates aren't thinking big enough. Hillary and Obama's proposals to subject 1/7th of the nation's economy [or whatever the current proportion that health care represents] to government control are small beer in Bob's eyes. He dismisses their plans as "masterpieces of minutiae."
Herbert says that "the essential question the candidates should be trying to answer — but that is not even being asked very often — is how to create good jobs in the 21st century." The columnist gives us an idea of the kind of big-government thinking he has in mind to answer his question:
The fate of a so-called economic stimulus bill is currently bogged down in the Senate as Republicans and Democrats disagree on how much to spend.
Both sides are playing to the crowd trying to take credit for helping prop up the economy and accuse the other side of trying to block economic aide. It's classic political theater in that way but also in another--left-leaning reporters just can't help but frame things in the way that the congressional Democrats would like them to.
The Associated Press was one of the worst offenders, running a story headlined "Republicans join to block stimulus bill" which waited until the end of the third graf to state the Republican viewpoint that the package was not fiscally responsible. To hear that view, however, you have to wade through more than a few bleeding heart sentences:
"He will make Cheney look like Gandhi," Buchanan said.
Buchanan participated in a panel with former Bill Clinton political adviser Paul Begala and liberal Air America radio talk show host Rachel Maddow on NBC's February 6 "Today." Buchanan told "Today" host Matt Lauer that McCain will have to shift focus from the economy to other issues.
"[T]he truth is, ["Today" co-anchor] Meredith [Vieira], it doesn't matter if we're in a recession," Bartiromo said on NBC's February 6 "Today." "We can talk ourselves into a recession, and that seems to be what we're doing right now and that certainly begets more weakness."
The media coverage has apparently affected voters. According to the February 6 Washington Times, an exit survey from the "Super Tuesday" primaries showed 47 percent of Democratic voters and 40 percent of Republican voters said the economy was the most important issue in making their choice at the polls.
Gross's February 6 story was the third in a slideshow lineup on the magazine's front page today (see screencap at right). But far from merely offering a prognosis on the Bush tax cuts, Gross weaved in his own opinion about how a President McCain letting them sunset would be fiscally responsible:
In the February 4 USA Today, Richard Wolf treated news of Bush's last budget proposal by alternating between liberal Democrats attacking the president and Wolf's own stark language in characterizing the spending blueprint. What's more, Wolf cited two Democrats attacking the spending plan, compared to one Republican depending reductions in spending in the final Bush budget.
ABC anchor David Muir asked Barack Obama about some of his liberal positions in a pre-recorded interview, which was shown on World News Saturday, in which Muir asked about the Democratic Senator's support for drivers licenses for illegal immigrants, and about being endorsed by "liberal legend" Ted Kennedy and MoveOn.org. The ABC anchor also brought up the New York Times' evaluation of Obama's economic policies as being "more left than the Clinton administration's." Muir: "Does that offer red meat for the Republicans, that you could possibly be more left than Hillary Clinton?" (Transcript follows)
♪♫ ♪ Say, say, one, nine, three, zero, party over, oops, out of time! So tonight I'm gonna party like it's 1929! ♪♫ ♪
It's the kind of rhetoric legislators in Congress were probably hearing following the economic downturn that occurred in 1929, which instigated the infamous Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930 that sent U.S. tariff rates sky high. That is, the February 11 issue of BusinessWeek, showing all the disadvantages of free trade for the United States and ignoring the advantages.
An article, "Economists Rethink Free Trade," by BusinessWeek Washington Bureau Chief Jane Sasseen ignored the benefits of free trade and the consequences of enacting anti-free trade policies.
The mainstream media are hard at work ginning up economic fears and class envy storylines. One need only look at CBSNews.com and two articles teased on the front page to get how the media are making the economy a melodrama scripted in favor of liberal Democratic talking points:
Granted, that is far more subtle than other economic coverage we've noted at NewsBusters, but the media have a clear interest in furthering news items that fit into liberal Democratic talking points about the economy and the ever-so-evil oil companies.