The economy isn’t doing well, correct? The average American is going backwards, right? Isn’t that all we heard before the elections?
Well, in another post-election stunner, the Christian Science Monitor has chosen to share the truth with Americans, sadly almost two weeks after the nation went to the polls. In an article amazingly titled “A brisk rise in American wages; Pay rose faster than the cost of living for the first time in years” (h/t to Drudge), author Mark Trumbull wrote what many on the right have been claiming for quite some time:
American paychecks are rising again at a pace not seen since the 1990s.
The pay increase amounts to 4 percent on average over the past 12 months, and it comes at a very helpful time for millions of households.
Wait a minute. The press have been saying for years that wages are declining. How can this be? Trumbull continued:
Fox News' Geraldo Rivera cheered the Democrats' victory last night as he railed against the "anti-immigration" GOP, called Rush Limbaugh, "snot-nosed," and campaigned for a minimum wage increase. On the syndicated Geraldo At Large, Rivera said of Republicans who opposed illegal immigration, "I am delighted to say that they got their butts kicked!" Rivera then mocked Limbaugh as he declared Claire McCaskill "was propelled to victory when snot-nosed Rush Limbaugh made fun of Parkinson patient Michael J. Fox's symptoms." Rivera also implored the Democrats to raise the minimum wage: "The incoming 110th Congress must also work in a bipartisan way finally to raise the national minimum wage. It has been a pathetic $5.15 an hour for almost 10 years."
“Victory is mine,” he seemed to gloat to viewers as with smug delight CNN populist gadfly and resident protectionist applauded the passage of six minimum wage increases in states ballot booths across the country.
Before the election, Dobbs was quite active in pushing such an increase both on his show and in his book, “War on the Middle Class.” Dobbs had a pre-election one-hour special by the same title, biased in favor of more taxation and regulation of the economy.
Following Christine Romans’ report on the initiatives, Dobbs chose to lecture the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and The Heritage Foundation for what he sees as their wrong-headed opinion on the matter.
Just four days before the election, the network news shows downplayed reports of a major drop in the unemployment rate and the creation of 231,000 new jobs. CBS’s Katie Couric groused, “But do the jobs out there pay enough?” NBC’s Brian Williams declared, “That was below expectations,” and ABC’s Charles Gibson gave the issue a total of 15 seconds.
That wasn’t the way the networks handled bad news in 2002 and 2004, when the final employment reports before Election Day were disappointing. On both occasions, ABC’s “World News Tonight” began its broadcast discussing the negative reports.
This reminds me of something blogger Ace of Spades mentioned to me some time ago about how it's not just the words, it's the pictures. Seemingly without exception, stories about the economy durng the 1990s had images or video of machines producing currency, cash registers ringing, and heavy traffic inside shopping malls. When's the last time anyone saw any of this in a news report about this very good economy?
In an interview with Vice President Dick Cheney excerpted on ABC's World News on Friday night, George Stephanopoulos cited the “exceptionally low” 4.4 percent October unemployment rate announced earlier in the day -- down two-tenths from September to the lowest since early 2001 -- and wondered: “Why don't you think the President's getting more credit for that?" Cheney blamed the media: “Well, you guys don't help. The fact of course is that what's news is if there's bad news and that gets coverage. But the good news that's out there day after day after day doesn't get as much attention.”
Indeed, Cheney was prescient. On Friday night ABC limited coverage to the Stephanopoulos question and 15 seconds from anchor Charles Gibson nearly 19 minutes into the newscast while CBS, and NBC to a lesser extent, spun the good news into bad. NBC's Brian Williams gave it just 20 seconds as he reported “employers added 92,000 jobs in October,” but added how “that was below expectations.” Williams skipped how the August and September job numbers were revised to show 139,000 more jobs created. And though wages have grown by 3.9 percent over the past 12 months, CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric used the lower unemployment news as a segue to ask: “But do the jobs out there pay enough? A big issue in the battle for Congress this year is how much the lowest-paid workers make.” Viewers then saw a full story on the plight of minimum wage workers and how raising it is "resonating" with voters. (Transcript follows)
"American Morning" reporter Ali Velshi insinuated on Tuesday’s show that corporations favor the GOP partly because "Republicans have kept hourly wages" low:
Ali Velshi: "All right, no big secret that Big Business favors Republicans, or has traditionally favored Republicans. But with polls showing that their friends in high places might be in some trouble leading into this election, Big Business has decided to cozy up with the Democrats. Corporate America likes Republicans. For the most part, Republicans have kept hourly wages and taxes low, and they keep their hands out of business as much as possible. Republicans like corporate America, and its hefty donations."
So, apparently, in addition to attempting to "criminalize science," Republicans also are the party of low wages? Perhaps that should be on a bumper sticker somewhere. Also, do Democrats not like their "hefty donations" from trial lawyers?
I looked around when I heard someone crying, and there was Pollyanna bawling her eyes out. That's how depressing was the one-two punch of pessimism in Paul Krugman's and Bob Herbert's New York Times pay-to-peruse columns of today.
Just in time for the elections, the pair paint a picture of America so dreary you half-expected the Google logarithm to place Prozac ads on the page. Krugman tries to talk down the economy, while Herbert sees a more deep-seated malaise. Annotated excerpts:
Krugman: "Bursting Bubble Blues"
"The housing boom became a bubble . . . the question now is how much pain the bursting bubble will inflict." Guessing Krugman's answer: a lot.
"Some say the worst is already over . . . So maybe this is as bad as it gets. But I think the pessimists have a stronger case." Told you so!
CNN might well prove a one-network full employment plan for myself and my colleagues at the MRC's Business & Media Institute, with its ongoing attacks against the strong economy.
You might even say CNN has gone to war against it.
That's the conclusion my colleagues Amy Menefee and Julia Seymour arrived at with their October 25 article.
CNN is no “CSI,” but its reporters and anchors keep declaring things dead. They’ve called the American dream “impossible” and “a lost cause” and said the middle class is “in crisis” or going “out of business” – all in the month of October.
“We hear every day on CNN that the middle class is getting beaten up and that it’s eroding,” said author Barbara Ehrenreich on the October 21 “In the Money.”
Last Wednesday, CNN aired Lou Dobbs's special "War on the Middle Class." Three days later, CNN's "In the Money" continued the network's pitched battle for more government regulation of the economy with the program's uncritical treatment of guest Barbara Ehrenreich.
Here's a bit of what my colleague Julia Seymour noticed from her review of the October 21 program. Her full article can be found here.
The financial program devoted just under five minutes to what amounted to a free advertisement for United Professionals (UP), a new organization co-founded by “Nickel and Dimed” author Barbara Ehrenreich. Ehrenreich is also author of “Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream.” She said the organization’s current function is “providing a way for people to come together, share their experiences and talk about what they’ve been going through” at a cost of $36.50 in annual dues.
Those of us that study the economy and how it is reported by the drive-by media are constantly amazed by how those covering financial issues continually misrepresent statistics to advance their agenda. No finer recent example has occurred than on “The Chris Matthews Show” Sunday when the host bemoaned new highs set by the Dow Jones Industrial Average last week as not accurately reflecting what is going on in the economy.
In his final segment, Matthews actually had the nerve to state, “Eighty percent of the workforce finds their paycheck barely keeping up with inflation.” In reality, nothing could be further from the truth, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics just this past Wednesday released data indicating that the average American's real wage after adjusting for inflation has risen by 2.2 percent since September 2005 as reported by NewsBusters.
Matthews also referenced a recent Wall Street Journal poll suggesting:
One of the continual carps of the media concerning the current economic expansion has been that only low-paying jobs are being created that aren’t keeping up with inflation. Well, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Wednesday:
Average weekly earnings rose by 4.0 percent, seasonally adjusted, from September 2005 to September 2006. After deflation by the CPI-W, average weekly earnings increased by 2.2 percent. Before adjustment for seasonal change and inflation, average weekly earnings were $571.89 in September 2006, compared with $549.86 a year earlier.
One would expect this to be welcome news to Americans. Alas, it is unlikely they will hear about it, because the media don’t report economic data that go counter to their view of the world.
Quite the contrary, as reported by the Business & Media Institute, when positive news about inflation-adjusted earnings was released by the Census Bureau in August, the press largely ignored it. CNN’s Soledad O’Brien even reported the exact opposite finding in a September 4 interview with Labor Secretary Elaine Chao:
Paul Krugman teaches teaches economics at Princeton, and has done the same at MIT. Enron evidently thought enough of his understanding of the dismal science to hire him as a consultant - though Krugman has at times been reluctant to disclose that fact. But judging by his latest anti-Wal-Mart jeremiad [subscription required] in this morning's New York Times, you really have to wonder how much the good professor of economics . . . understands about capitalism.
Krugman's portrait of Wal-Mart is a caricature of greedy management conducting what he calls a "war on wages." Krugman has apparently gotten hold of a couple leaked internal Wal-Mart memos that discuss ideas for keeping labor costs under control. Among the ideas: increasing the percentage of part-time workers, since they qualify for fewer benefits, and limiting raises for long-term employees.