Liberal Politics Ignored, Yellen’s Gender the Focus of Network Coverage

ABC, CBS, NBC gush over ‘historical’ nature of confirmation, exclude her left-wing views.

Janet Yellen was confirmed as Federal Reserve Chairman on Jan. 6, but in spite of becoming one of the most powerful bankers in the world, the broadcasts networks continued to ignore her left-wing views.

Instead of discussing Yellen’s support for fiscal stimulus and regulatory efforts, ABC, CBS, and NBC focused exclusively on her gender in recent news reports.

In the first 24 hours following her confirmation, the broadcast networks spent no time describing her political and economic policy views. All of the networks’ morning and evening news shows, except for ABC’s “Good Morning America,” mentioned the confirmation and each highlighted Yellen’s gender and pointed out that she is the first woman to head the Federal Reserve.

All five reports from ABC, CBS, and NBC declared that Yellen was making history as the first woman to head the Federal Reserve, including NBC’s Natalie Morales’ report on “Today” Jan. 7. The night before, NBC’s “Nightly News” displayed Yellen’s photograph with the tagline, “Making History.” CBS “This Morning” enthusiastically stressed that she was the “first woman to lead the central bank in its 100 year history.”

Anyone looking for an idea of how the incoming Chairman might run the Federal Reserve wouldn’t find it on the networks, which simply kept repeating that she would replace Ben Bernanke and was confirmed in a 56-to-26 vote.

In contrast, print media provided much more detailed look at Yellen’s liberal views. Annie Lowrey, writing for The New York Times Jan. 6, said Yellen “might be a stronger proponent for the Fed’s extraordinary policies than Mr. Bernanke.” The “extraordinary policies” she referred to were the Fed’s $85 billion per month bond purchases, known as quantitative easing, which have been harshly criticized by conservatives and even a former Federal Reserve official.

Yellen is actually considered more liberal than her recent predecessors and is the first Democrat to hold the Chairmanship since Paul Volcker, who was President Jimmy Carter’s 1979 pick.

Time’s Rana Foroohar described her on Jan. 6 as the Fed’s “first openly reform-minded, Keynesian-oriented leader.” Keynesianism is an economic philosophy that advocates active government intervention and spending to stimulate the economy.

Yellen has also endorsed liberal economic policies on multiple occasions. In a Feb. 11, 2013 speech to the AFL-CIO, Yellen expressed her support for government stimulus, calling “discretionary fiscal policy” a “headwind for the recovery.” She has also endorsed stricter regulation, suggesting in January 2013 that the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul did not go far enough to regulate the banking industry.

Yet, in the coverage following her confirmation the networks chose not to discuss Yellen’s views that will shape Federal Reserve policies. This is consistent with the networks coverage of Yellen in October 2013, when President Obama officially nominated her. At that time, the networks praised her excessively, fawning over her “brilliance” and “working class roots.”

This pro-Yellen coverage, came after the networks ignored frontrunner Yellen in the four months before the nomination. They actually spent 25 times more time on the 2013 Miss America Pageant winner than Yellen.

— Sean Long is Staff Writer at the Media Research Center. Follow Sean Long on Twitter.