Consumer confidence plummeted in January to a 14-month low of 58.6. The Conference Board announced the drop on Jan. 29 and cited a tax hike as the reason for the 8.1 point drop, but the bad news got no mention on the evening network news programs that night. Instead ABC joyfully reported good news on the economy.
“World News with Diane Sawyer” led its broadcast with an upbeat story about the housing market. David Muir actually mentioned consumer confidence in his story on the housing “comeback” of rising home values, but not the drop. As he discussed the housing story with Diane Sawyer he actually said that good home news boosts consumer confidence. Neither he, nor Sawyer seized that opportunity to mention the latest confidence data that had been released that very day.
CBS “Evening News” found time to discuss the violence, backstabbing and sabotage behind the scenes of the Bolshoi Ballet in Russia, but none to consider the problem of dropping consumer confidence. While NBC “Nightly News” managed to squeeze in stories on Google maps updating its maps of North Korea, a new Ben and Jerry’s ice cream flavor celebrating “30 Rock,” and apes playing with iPad apps.
Associated Press reported “The big drop was blamed in part on the increase in Social Security taxes that took effect on Jan. 1. The increase will mean a household earning $50,000 a year will pay about $1,000 more this year in taxes.”
The bad economic news continued on Jan. 30, when the Commerce Department reported that Gross Domestic Product fell for the first time since 2009.