Economy Grew More than We Knew, but Networks Barely Notice

     The latest news: our economy grew even more last quarter than we thought!


     The latest network reporting: the White House reduced its growth forecast.


     “From the White House, an acknowledgment of what many Americans already know: The economy is losing steam,” said CNBC’s Erin Burnett on the November 29 “NBC Nightly News.” “The Bush administration now forecasting 2.7 percent economic growth next year. That's down from 3.1 percent, and it would be the slowest expansion for the U.S. economy in four years. The main reason for the cut, housing.”


     But also news the same day was economic growth for the third quarter. It was estimated at 3.9 percent last month but was revised upward to 4.9 percent by the federal government’s Bureau of Economic Analysis.


     The original news that GDP growth rose 3.9 percent was missed by “CBS Evening News” and downplayed by NBC “Nightly News” on October 31.

     However, the White House reduced its growth forecast for 2008 from 3.1 percent to 2.7 percent on November 29 also. That’s not nearly recessionary – a recession is actually two quarters of negative growth – it just isn’t as optimistic as the Bush administration once was.


     Only one of those two stories was reported on last night’s network news. And other positive economic news – including a three-day rally of the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) and the falling price of oil, now trading under $90 a barrel after fears of $100 a barrel were spread by the media – was downplayed or ignored.


     Both stories were ignored on ABC “World News with Charles Gibson.” But the “CBS Evening News” found time to give the downbeat news a mention.


     “In ‘Money Watch’ tonight, a new forecast for the U.S. economy,” said “Evening News” anchor Katie Couric. “The White House today raised its prediction for economic growth this year from 2.3 percent to 2.7 percent. It expects the same growth next year, but that's down from an earlier prediction of 3.1 percent. The slowdown is blamed in part on the credit crunch. And a report on that today shows foreclosures nearly doubled in October over the same month last year.”


     Couric once again made the same mistake the media have been making when reporting RealtyTrac numbers – that it wasn’t foreclosures that “nearly doubled,” but foreclosure filings were up 94 percent from October 2006 and up 2 percent from September, according to RealtyTrac. One house could have more than one filing, which tends to skew the numbers. 


     Results from a Gallup Poll were released on November 19 stating that only 2 percent called economic conditions excellent, 25 percent good, and 72 percent called the outlook only fair or poor. According to a story in the November 20 USA Today, it is the most dismal reading since May 1992.


     It’s no wonder ordinary Americans are pessimistic about the economy – when they’re constantly bombarded with the negative and network reporting refuses to include the positive.