Obvious enough for the folks at Fox News to do an entire segment Saturday morning asking the extraordinary question: "Media ‘Talking Down' the Economy to Get a Dem Elected?"
Despite my surprise seeing "Cavuto on Business" begin with such a question framed at the bottom of the screen, I was almost enraptured by the comments from Neil's guests which not only included regular assertions that this is clearly about getting a Democrat in the White House, but also that media are "committing a crime against the general public" by creating a self-fulfilling prophecy that will end up costing people their jobs in the long run.
More importantly, "if we have a serious recession, a great deal will lie at the media's feet."
Cavuto marvelously began the segment:
NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Well, is the economy slowing? Well, yeah it is. But call me crazy, is it as bad as this? This week, the Associated Press claiming Americans are being subjected to, and I quote "economic water torture." And then this little ditty item on the GDP, "The economy nearly sputtered out at the end of the year." We were up at the end of the year. Why someone here says this is all part of the media's plan to get a Democrat in the White House. Is it?...First to Ben Stein, and Ben, your reaction to this idea that we're going to hell in a hand-basket.
BEN STEIN: Well, the media has been selling us on fear and recession for months maybe years now. Even before there was and really seriously bad news they were selling, selling, selling fear. They have been shouting "FIRE" in a crowded theatre now for months, quarters, I'd say probably over a year. The actual economic conditions are not that bad. I think if we have a recession, if we have a serious recession, a great deal will lie at the media's feet. And I don't know why they're doing it. They're the ones that are going to lose their jobs.
CAVUTO: What do you think of that, that we are going into a slowdown - some would even say a recession - but to hear some in the media tell it, depression?
CHARLES PAYNE, WSTREET.COM: It's really, what the real problem is is that it's not fair to the public that they're supposedly serving. You know, when you stir things up, and I think Ben the analogy to yelling "FIRE" in a crowded movie theatre is absolutely perfect. I mean, when you say something like "water torture," it's not only, to me it just seems that they're taking a shot at the GOP on the economy, but also with the Iraq war and water-boarding. That's exactly what I thought of when I heard it. And, it's so transparent, and, but, the really sad thing is I think they're committing a crime against the general public when they do this.
CAVUTO: Peter Sheahan, you're very big on words mattering and the impression they leave matter. Words like that, "water torture," "depression," those are strong words.
PETER SHEAHAN, AUTHOR: It's a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you tell people life is going to be bad, they're going to make their decisions to tighten their wallets, stop spending their money, and then life will be bad. And I'm from the outside, so I get to watch it from the other parts of the world....We're seeing in other countries now the economy starting to tighten because we're in fear that America might be in recession. So, the fundamentals looked pretty good to me twelve months ago, six months ago even. And now not just is the American economy potentially going to be in trouble as a result of this talking it up, so are other economies around the world.
Exactly. And that's what makes Payne's point about this being a crime accurate. After all, if the economy isn't as bad NOW as media are portraying, but worsens in the months to come due to such a portrayal, people will end up losing jobs here, and this could cascade into a larger global economic event.
Shouldn't media's goal be to REPORT the news and NOT create it? If the current gloom and doom depictions actually worsen the economy, aren't press members not just complicit in advancing a political agenda, but also in harming the personal finances of potentially millions of people both here and abroad?
Payne certainly thinks so:
PAYNE: But, let me just cut to the real chase here: the reality is is that it's not that they're always selling negative news. They're really in this because it seems like they're trying to get a Democrat in the White House...The media wants the Democrats to win the White House.
Bravo, folks. We need MUCH more of this kind of media analysis on television so that people will better understand what's going on with our supposedly impartial press, and just how far "journalists" are willing to go -- even to the extent of causing a much deeper economic contraction -- in order to win in November.