Cleanup at AP: Report on Serious Consumer Confidence Drop Omits Its Size, Deletes Previously Included Context

conference-boarToday's report from The Conference Board shows that consumer confidence fell steeply in September:
The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index®, which had improved in August, retreated in September. The Index now stands at 48.5 (1985=100), down from 53.2 in August.

In a report issued in the run-up to the Board's release (go to the text which follows the "Breaking News Update" here; saved at my web host for future reference), the Associated Press's Stephen Bernard revealed economists' consensus prediction (52.5) and helpfully told readers the level of result (90) that would represent "a strong, healthy economy."

In his 10:36 report consolidating the breaking news with info presented before its release (saved here), that useful information disappeared. In fact, even though it was in the "Breaking News Update" of the earlier report, Bernard omitted the Board's specific reading from his revision. Amazing.

Here is what the AP reporter told readers in his run-up story (bolds are mine throughout):

Growth in consumer confidence in Germany comes on the same day where a key report on consumer confidence in the U.S. is scheduled for release. The Conference Board is expected to say U.S. consumer confidence dipped slightly this month compared with August.

Economists polled by Thomson Reuters forecast the consumer confidence index dipped to 52.5 from 53.5 last month. It takes a reading of 90 to indicate a strong, healthy economy.

Confidence remains low in the U.S. as unemployment remains high and economic growth is tepid. But investors have been able to drive stocks sharply higher throughout September because economic data indicates the country is strong enough to avoid falling back into recession. 

Here is how the related information looked in the revision:

Stocks slipped Tuesday following news that consumer confidence dropped to its lowest level since February.

The Conference Board said its September reading on consumer confidence fell sharply from August and was well below forecasts. Stocks have rallied throughout September as many major economic reports suggested that economic growth was slightly better than previously thought.

Why would Stephen Bernard and the AP not want readers to know what the Board's reading actually was, or just how far below expectations it came in? And why is it no longer important that readers understand what kind of reading is seen when an economy is strong and healthy?

The questions answer themselves, don't they?

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

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