When it comes to the economy, the media have been playing the
part of Chicken Little all year. So when word came Thursday that
the U.S. economy expanded at an annual rate of 1.9% — the latest
evidence that the much ballyhooed recession is just pessimistic
hype — how did the big three broadcast networks respond?
ABC’s World News and the NBC Nightly News didn’t air a
word about the improving economy, while the CBS Evening News
centered its story around "disappointing" news about the supposedly
"struggling economy." Anchor Katie Couric first emphasized how a
revision showed a slight decline in GDP from October to December 2007,
then fretted: "In the second quarter, when all those rebate checks were
supposed to stimulate the economy, it grew less than two percent. Jeff
Glor has more about the disappointing numbers." [Audio/video (0:27):
Windows Media (1.70 MB) and
MP3 audio (117 kB)]
Reporter Glor emphasized a bad news anecdote over factual data
showing improvement: "You’ll have a hard time convincing Paula Corletto
the economy is growing....She and her eight-year-old daughter Leandra
now limit their shopping to only one day a week....It might take more
than music to make Paula Corletto feel good about the future."
Three months earlier, when the economic growth rate came in at a much
lower 0.6% (since revised upward to 0.9%), both ABC and NBC found the
GDP statistic newsworthy enough to lead their broadcasts. ABC anchor
Charles Gibson proclaimed the "new numbers show the economy is limping
along with meager growth," even as NBC’s Brian Williams argued that "the
figure that came out today stops just short of the official declaration
of a recession."
a Rasmussen poll found most Americans believe the news media are
indeed pushing a bad news agenda on the economy this election year: "50%
believe the media makes economic conditions appear worse than they
really are….[while] only a quarter (25%) think reporters and media
outlets present an accurate picture of the economy."
According to Rasmussen, "Just 34% trust reporters more when it comes
to news on the economy, and 32% see stockbrokers as more reliable."
For more, see the