Morning Show 'Depression' Obsession: Is Today Another 'Black Friday'?

     NBC’s “Today” show, ABC’s “Good Morning America,” and CBS’s “The Early Show” greeted viewers with depressing news the morning of June 27 – the stock market is struggling – and more epic comparisons.


     “If things keep going south, this could be Wall Street’s worst June since the Depression,” NBC co-host Meredith Vieira said at the top of the show. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) dropped more than 358 points June 26, about 3 percent of its total.


     “The Dow is down 19 percent from its record level in October,” co-host Ann Curry said a few minutes later. “If it falls just one more percentage point we will officially be in a bear market and make us maybe akin, as you just said, to the times of the Depression.”


     But two references to the Great Depression, the worst financial crisis in U.S. history, wasn’t enough for “Today.” CNBC’s Melissa Lee kept the negativity coming in a report from the New York Stock Exchange.


     “Unfortunately, Meredith, it is shaping up to be a bad morning here on Wall Street, shaping up to be in fact a bad summer,” Lee said. “Yesterday the Dow was down by just about 3 percent and in fact the index, if it closes at these levels, this will be the worst June on record since the Great Depression.”


     Those three references to the Great Depression occurred within the first five minutes of the “Today” show. ABC was just as quick to make the comparison by asking if June 27 could be “Black Friday on Wall Street?”


      ABC reporter Bianna Golodryga said that “June, the month of June, [is] the worst month for the stock market since the Great Depression.” Golodryga had yet more colorful language to add, calling June 26 “a bloodbath.”


     CBS’s “Early Show” highlighted negative news, but avoided comparing conditions to the Great Depression.


     Co-host Chris Wragge said, “talking about this crisis that we’re in right now, credit crisis, housing crisis, and what the market’s doing, this is reflecting a Bear Market and the dot-com bust of years ago which is something no one wants to talk about.”


     The three broadcast networks referred to the Great Depression more than 40 times in the first four months of 2008, according to the Business & Media Institute report, “The Great Media Depression.”


     But the “worst since the Great Depression” comparison disguises the fact that economic conditions in 2008 are nowhere near as bad as they were during the 1920s and the worst financial crisis of U.S. history.


     Unemployment rose to 5.5 percent in May 2008. During the Depression, unemployment hit more than 24 percent, and the figure didn’t include women or many minorities who wanted to be working but couldn’t find jobs.

     The DJIA dropped 3 percent June 25, and has fallen 19 percent since an all-time high of more than 14,000 points in October 2007. In the Depression, by contrast, it lost almost a third of its value – 31.5 percent – over only four days of trading.