'Early Show' Makes Carter Years Comparisons in One-Sided View of Economy

     If there was ever a doubt that the mainstream media sometime emphasize the worst even when there is positive news, this should clear that up.

     Bloomberg TV anchor Deirdre Bolton appeared on CBS’s January 9 “The Early Show” to report on a survey Bloomberg conducted January 3-8. The Bloomberg survey found that the majority of the economists weren’t completely pessimistic, but Bolton reported it differently.

     “[W]ell, as you said the economy certainly is front and center,” Bolton said. “And in fact in the latest survey of Bloomberg economists, economists putting the odds of developing a recession at about 40 percent. Jay Bryson – he’s a global economist at Wachovia – he says we are skating on the edge of recession, but it’s all going to come down to the consumer. Another economist that we spoke with said that consumers right now are really hanging on by their fingernails. And of course it’s not really a surprise.”

     However, that’s not exactly how Bloomberg reported this survey on its Web site. In an article headlined “U.S. Will Escape Recession, Economists Say in Survey,” the outlook accentuated a “softening” of the economy, not a recession.

      “Economic growth will average 1.5 percent in the first six months of 2008, matching the fourth quarter’s pace, according to the median estimate of 62 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News from Jan. 3 to Jan. 8,” the article by Shobhana Chandra and Alex Tanzi said. “The rate of expansion would be the weakest since the last nine months of 2001.”

      Bolton even made comparisons of the current economic climate to “when Jimmy Carter was president.”

     “We’ve had rising food, rising energy costs,” Bolton said. “Also, the worst housing market in 27 years. So that, of course, was back when Jimmy Carter was president.”

     However, there is a long way to go before we can invoke the name of Jimmy Carter when making economic comparisons. Radio host Sean Hannity summed up the economy after Carter in his 2004 book “Let Freedom Ring”:

“Jimmy Carter left office with the American economy sinking fast – soaring unemployment, double-digit inflation, double-digit interest rates, a contracting economy, and a sense that America’s best days might be behind her.”

      Currently, inflation is at 4.3 percent and the interest rate for the benchmark 30-year fixed mortgage, according to Bankrate.com, is 6.14 percent.

      Another reason Bolton cited for a recession was a lack of jobs, even though there have been 52 consecutive months of job growth according to the U.S. Labor Department and unemployment is still relatively low historically – at only 5 percent.

     “Also, reduced access to credit, fewer jobs out there,” said Bolton. “So, basically the consumer has been under a lot of pressure.”

     Those who said a recession was a certainty were a small minority of those surveyed by Bloomberg – a significant detail completely ignored in the “Early Show” version of the story on the survey.

     “Economists put the odds of a recession developing within the next year at 40 percent, according to the median estimate,” Chandra and Tanzi wrote. “Nine of the 47 economists responding to the question put the odds at about even and five said the economy would contract.”