CBS Squeezes in Bad Economic News before McCain Speech

     CBS “Evening News” continued to present a dour view of the economy on the night of Arizona Sen. John McCain’s acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention.

     Katie Couric announced “disappointing economic news” about jobs and retail sales on “Evening News” September 4: “The government reported today that 15,000 more Americans joined the line for unemployment benefits. And despite back-to-school bargains, consumers were not in a spending mood in August. Major retailers reported sales were up just over 1 percent from last year.”

     “Just over 1 percent” was actually closer to 2 percent – the International Council of Shopping Centers reported a 1.7-percent increase over August 2007.

     Couric’s downbeat assessment lasted 27 seconds and ignored good economic news about gross domestic product (GDP) announced by the Commerce Department August 28. The department revised the second quarter 2008 GDP to 3.3 percent, exceeding economists’ predictions of a 2.3 percent increase. That data confirmed that the U.S. economy was not in recession during 2008, despite media and political claims to the contrary.

     Turn back the clock just one week to the night of Illinois Sen. Barack Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention. On August 28, “Evening News” didn’t make any room at all – not even the same 27 seconds – in the broadcast for good news about a jump in gross domestic product.

     NBC “Nightly News” also ignored the surge in GDP the night of Obama’s “economy is in turmoil” speech, while ABC’s “World News with Charles Gibson” took 13 seconds to mention it.

     On McCain’s big night, Couric emphasized the big drop on Wall Street saying that the bad news “hit Wall Street hard … the Dow plunged more than 344 points today.” But on August 28, there was no mention of the Wall Street rally that sent the Dow up 212 points for the day.

     The Business & Media Institute found that throughout the Democratic convention, the news media helped reinforce Obama’s negative economic view. Journalists echoed or didn’t challenge the gloomy rhetoric.

     Tom Brokaw, the former anchor of NBC “Nightly News” lamented on August 29, “[T]he American people are facing some of the greatest problems that they have faced, certainly in our lifetimes. Financial crisis, greatest since the Depression; energy crisis …”

     Investor’s Business Daily found room for optimism saying on August 28, “[W]e were struck by Thursday’s news that second-quarter GDP was revised up from 1.9% to 3.3%, more in line with boom than bust,” an editorial in IBD said. “But listening to the media and the Democrats in Denver, you’d think the economy was in a depression. Well, it’s not. In fact, we’re modestly optimistic. By the end of this year, all the really bad year-to-year comparisons in growth will be over. Sales and prices will start to look more normal. And the panic will leave the market.