Deflated: Brady Scandal Gets 5 Times More Coverage than China’s Faltering Economy

August 24th, 2015 2:11 PM

The downward spiral of China’s economy has sent U.S. stocks plunging wildly. The Dow dropped 1,000 points as the market opened Aug. 24, but stocks were rebounding by midday according to MarketWatch.

MarketWatch reported that day, “Chinese equities surrendered all of their gains for 2015, and a rout in the U.S. on Friday that capped the worst week for the market in four years. Investors are worried about the global implications of a slowdown in China’s economy.”

However, viewers of the broadcast network evening news shows had little warning that the China’s slowing economy and devaluing of its currency could cause major U.S. market problems. They were five times more likely to be up to date with the NFL’s fight against New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady over his Deflategate suspension.

In a month of coverage, from July 18 to Aug. 18, China’s economic situation was discussed for just 3 minutes and 11 seconds on the network evening news programs. That coverage was entirely on CBS and ABC and even included a political story about Donald Trump that made a passing mention of China’s currency devaluation. In contrast, ABC, CBS and NBC spent 18 minutes and 21 seconds on Brady’s appeal and courtroom appearances: more than five times more.

China devalued its currency, called the Yuan, in what ABC World News Tonight with David Muir referred to as “a surprise move” on Aug. 11. That send the Dow Jones Industrial Average down more than 200 points that day. The entire story was a mere 11 seconds long.

The following night, CBS Evening News reported that China had devalued its currency for a second day in a row in “a highly unusual move for the Chinese who see their economy slowing and want to boost exports by making their products cheaper.”
The Dow closed at 18086.45 on Friday July 17, before dropping roughly 575 points to close at 17,511.34 on Aug. 18. In the following few days, the Dow plummeted more than 1,000 tied to economic problems in China and the networks began reported that dive on Aug. 20.

Methodology: MRC Business searched Nexis for all evening news stories about China to find ones about China’s economy from July 18 through Aug. 18, the month leading up to the serious decline in the Dow Jones index. MRC Business searched the same shows during that for the terms “deflategate” or “Brady” or “NFL” to find all stories about Tom Brady’s scandal.