Networks Ignore Good Housing News

     Since before 9/11, news media have warned of a “housing bubble” about to burst and when prices dropped they predicted cataclysm, including recession. But when new numbers showed existing homes sales up for the second month in a row, the network newscasts paid no attention.

     ABC, NBC and CBS evening news programs ignored the housing lift in their December 28 broadcasts.

     The Wall Street Journal reported on December 29 that the existing home sales were up again in November, indicating “rebounding demand that suggests the economic fallout from the housing market’s slump will be limited next year.”

     While the Journal did caution that “it is far from certain that the housing slump is over,” The New York Times took a negative approach to the numbers.

    “[M]any [economists], including those at the Realtors association, are taking a wait-and-see approach,” wrote Jeremy W. Peters. The article also prominently featured a paraphrase of National Association of Realtors economist David Lereah: “So is the housing slump over? Check back next month, one economist said.”

   Lereah was also quoted in the USA Today, where he sounded less pessimistic than the Times indicated, explaining that prices were going up again. “It appears we’ve hit bottom,” he said. “The price drops are necessary to stir sales. It is working.”

    Good news about housing often gets negative coverage or none at all. When the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight released positive data on November 30, the Business & Media Institute reported that CNBC was the only network that even mentioned it.

     Back on November 1, “CBS Evening News” even drew comparisons between the housing market and the Great Depression.

     “Evening News” was not the only worry-filled show. On November 17, PBS economics correspondent Paul Solman asked if the economy was okay, or “in the early stages of a housing-led crash that might depress us all?” during “NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.”

     Both NBC and ABC negatively spun good housing data released on July 25, and excluded remarks from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke who said the housing slowdown was “orderly.”

      The Business & Media Institute has documented the long history of media worrying about the housing bubble.