CBS's Couric Focuses on Troubles at Enron, Ford; Leaves Out Dow Record, Lower Gas Prices

     Gas prices hit their lowest point since January and the Dow Jones closed on yet another record high, but on the October 24 evening newscast CBS’s Katie Couric colored her business briefing in red, focusing on Ford Motor Company’s (NYSE: F) quarterly loss and the five-year-old Enron scandal. Competitors ABC and NBC also noted the bleak news from Detroit, but tossed in positive business news items.

     Couric set the tone announcing that Ford was “battling red ink and losing badly.”

     “The company predicts things may only get worse in the fourth quarter,” Couric added before turning to former Enron executive Jeff Skilling, “who became a poster boy for corporate greed” and was sentenced to more than 24 years in prison.

     “Thousands of Enron workers lost their jobs and pensions and stockholders lost billions when that company collapsed,” the “Evening News” anchor added.

     At no point in her broadcast did Couric mention the record Dow close or falling gas prices, which were affecting millions of Americans positively – continuing a pattern that the Business & Media Institute (BMI) has previously noticed. According to the latest BMI study, “More than 80 percent of the full-length stories on the ‘CBS Evening News’ delivered a negative view of the economy – easily the worst of the three broadcast news programs” over a year’s time.  

     Meanwhile, on the October 24 ABC “World News,” anchor Charles Gibson coupled the record Dow close with news of Ford’s third-quarter losses. After noting that Ford executives say “thing will get worse in the current quarter,” Gibson added that investors “focused on more positive things” on Wall Street to push the market up to close at 12,116 points.

     “That is a new record-high closing,” Gibson informed viewers.

     Like Gibson, NBC’s Brian Williams mentioned the stark losses at Ford, but followed that news with the drop in gas prices and then the market’s record close.

     “The Energy Department reported today the average price for regular unleaded is now $2.21 a gallon nationwide. That’s down fully 83 cents a gallon from its August high of $3.04. Gas prices have been falling steadily for the last 11 weeks in a row along with oil prices,” Williams read. “That news, as you might imagine, helped perk up Wall Street,” the “Nightly News” anchor continued, citing the Dow’s record close.