It's Not the Economy; It's the Media's Economic Agenda

     “It’s the economy, stupid.” That little James Carville nugget from the 1992 election is as true now as it was then.
     With Wall Street more of a roller coaster than an investment vehicle, ordinary Americans are worried about their future as they watch the markets shake, rattle and roll toward November.
     More than half of Americans said in a September 2008 CBS News/New York Times poll that the economy and jobs are the most important issues in the presidential election. The mainstream media are feeding voters’ fears as they have done throughout the campaign – talking about an economy “in crisis,” “heading over a cliff,” or nearly “apocalyptic.”
     We’ve heard some of what the candidates plan for the economy but nowhere near enough, and there is little if any discussion of the media agenda for the next four years. The media – especially ABC, CBS and NBC – have decided the economy is a winning issue for the left and are using economic troubles to push a sweeping agenda of liberal policies, regulation and big government.
     Based on their coverage, we can expect four more years of economic populism from the nation’s news outlets. From health care to taxes to global warming, the networks have already made it clear where they stand, and the winning president will have to ignore that at his peril.
     Look at the pathetic way the news has covered earmarks, that pesky pork that fills the bills on Capitol Hill. Only one of the presidential candidates has made it a key issue – Sen. John McCain. He’s never taken an earmark in his long career. Never.
     Sen. Barack Obama on the other hand has requested $740 million in earmarks. Add his running mate, Sen. Joe Biden’s, most recent requests, and it pushes that total over $1 billion.
     But when did the media become entranced by the subject? After Sarah Palin was added to the GOP ticket, so they could try desperately to link her to the famous “Bridge to Nowhere.” There were more than 50 mentions of earmarks on the three broadcast networks since Palin joined the ticket – almost as many as in the entire eight months before. Just two discussed Obama’s massive earmark requests.
     Those results come from a new study by the Business & Media Institute (BMI). BMI examined how the news media push liberal economic positions for the two-part report on the candidates. The study examined network news coverage – ABC, CBS and NBC – from Jan. 1, 2008, to Sept. 30, 2008.
     The findings say a great deal about the left-wing views of America’s Fourth Estate. Forget for a moment the media’s prObama stance. That helps set the scene for one election. The journalists pushing these themes could help mould the nation for generations.
     In health care, the liberal theme was obvious. Networks reported the national health care problem as vastly more inflated than it really is. ABC, CBS and NBC bought into the hype that 47 million Americans are without health care at least 18 times. It’s between 10 and 20 percent of that claim.
     To bolster the argument, reporters applauded Obama’s “ambitious” way to “improve” health care. Then they turned around and ignored the positives of the McCain plan and defended the idea of “government-run health care.”
     The networks endorsed a similar attitude about taxes, treating cuts as a cost to government in one-fourth of all stories. That’s nearly twice the number of stories that depicted tax cuts as a “relief” to taxpayers.
     NBC’s Andrea Mitchell showed one GOP candidate that journalists have a liberal view when it comes to letting people keep the money they earn. “Rudy Giuliani proposed lowering corporate tax rates and capital gains taxes, costing trillions,” she said on the Jan. 12 “Saturday Today” show.
     Even when the candidates agreed, the media still pushed the agenda leftward. Both Obama and McCain back an economy-numbing cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions. It’s designed to make energy more expensive, so journalists love it – just not as much as they love climate change stories. 
     They’ve done nearly 500 of those warming stories in the first nine months of this year but only examined the pricey “cap-and-trade policy” 18 times. Just three of those stories mentioned costs.
     While the newscasts included a great gnashing of teeth for our overall economic fate, journalists have helped ensure our economic future shifts further to the left. If the next president follows that agenda, America in four years will be a land of higher taxes, stifling regulation and sky-high energy costs.
     For much of the last year, ABC, CBS and NBC have done their part to portray the American economy in chaos. Now if they get their way, they might help make it a reality.