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August 5, 2008

Volume 2, Number 14

ABC & NBC Ignore Good Economic News, While CBS Pretends It’s Bad

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."

Last month, 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 August 1 CyberAlert


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