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October 24, 2006
It's The Economy, Stupid MSM

Investor's Business Daily took the mainstream media to task over its coverage of the economy in its editorial yesterday, making the case that media outlets have a political bias against Republicans. Despite an economic boom that has created 6.6 million jobs, increased federal tax revenues, and tamed inflation while generating strong growth, the media has relentlessly focused its coverage on negative, anecdotal stories (via Newsbeat1):

You are v-e-r-y tired. . . . You will believe everything I say. . . . Just keep your eye on President Bush's sinking polls. . . . Pay no attention to that low jobless rate . . . or the shrinking budget deficit . . . or the record Dow.

That, it seems, is the spell that's again been cast over a strangely receptive public as the Nov. 7 election nears. Despite an economic boom that's nothing short of amazing, especially given the obstacles it's had to overcome, many Americans still think we're on the verge of recession. Or at least that's what some polls say.

Why the disconnect? We keep scratching our heads. Beyond the grumbling over gas prices and some concern about what lies ahead in the war on terror, the only thing we can come up with is the unremittingly negative coverage the economy gets in the mainstream media.

You'd think that after a while people would put two and two together — that if things are pretty good for them and most people they know, the economy itself must be pretty good, despite what they read in the papers or hear on TV.

How do we know there's a disconnect? Because we see it in our own polling. When we ask Americans about their own financial situations, they're upbeat. When we ask what they think of the economy in general, the response is much less bullish.

And why is that? IBD says it reflects the media coverage of the economy, a trend they see going all the way back to the 1992 election. In that contest, in which James Carville coined the phrase "It's the economy, stupid," the media failed to report that the recession of 1990-1 -- touched off in part by a tax increase -- had ended and that the economy had begun to expand. IBD notes that 90% of the economic coverage in October 1992 were negative, but that decreased to 14% in November ... after the election had concluded, and Bill Clinton won.

In 2000, however, the media completely missed the economic slowdown that eventually turned into a recession in the first quarter of 2001. George Bush pointed it out in his campaign, but it received scant media coverage. In 2004, however, the opposite happened: the media mostly missed the 2003 recovery, fueled by the Bush tax cuts. Remember the "jobless recovery"? Recall how the media echoed the John Kerry campaign that the recovery was an illusion that would burst shortly after the 2004 election? Two years later, it's created over 6 million jobs and generated enough revenue, even with the tax cuts, to cut the projected deficit in half. (Imagine where it would be if we could quit spending money.)

Have the media learned anything? Apparently not. Despite 36 straight months of expansion, an unemployment rate of 4.6%, and inflation at an annual projected rate of 2.4%, the media still can't bring themselves to report on a Republican economy honestly. Business & Media Institute found that TV networks gave twice as much airtime to negative stories as positive ones (62% - 31%). Bad news was twice as likely to get full-length treatment as well. The people interviewed by the network were three times more likely to relate negative anecdotes. To no one's surprise, CBS took the lead in negative coverage, committing 80% of its economic coverage to bad news in the middle of a huge economic expansion.

No industry can be that incompetent by accident. There has been a deliberate attempt to deceive people through anecdotal coverage in a period where all of the economic indicators have shown remarkable and broad growth. IBD warns its readers that the TV networks, at the least, have conducted a propaganda operation, one with a years-old pedigree, and that investors should disregard the economic "journalism" of their news divisions. Voters would be well advised to heed that warning as well.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at October 24, 2006 5:36 AM

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» It's The Economy, Stupid MSM from Bill's Bites
It's The Economy, Stupid MSM Investor's Business Daily took the mainstream media to task over its coverage of the economy in its editorial yesterday, making the case that media outlets have a political bias against Republicans. Despite an economic boom [Read More]

Tracked on October 24, 2006 1:37 PM

» Media Bias And The Economy from Thinking Right
It’s really no big surprise to those of us who pay attention, but IBD highlighted — in it’s editorial yesterday — the bias coverage of the MSM when it comes to the economy. The Dow Industrial is up over 12,000, Unemployment is a... [Read More]

Tracked on October 24, 2006 3:01 PM

» Clinton- 92, "Mandate for Change" from Mensa Barbie Welcomes You
1992: Gov. Bill Clinton & Sen. Al Gore campaigned on the slogan, "It's the economy, stupid." The decision to avoid all discussion of foreign policy was partly for tactical reasons. Opponent Bush Sr.s victory in Gulf War...Captain Ed posts: [Read More]

Tracked on October 24, 2006 4:07 PM

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