Wall Street Journal Makes Depression Comparison at FDR Memorial

     The media have compared the current economic turmoil to the Great Depression for months, but The Wall Street Journal took it a step further – literally – by sending a reporter for the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial in Washington, D.C.

     An article on the front page of the Oct. 18 Journal featured the memorial and attempted to draw parallels between the Depression and the current economic crisis.

     “With financial markets in turmoil and the economy screeching to a halt, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial in Washington, D.C., is taking on new meaning,” reporter Michael Phillips wrote. “These days, when visitors wander through the monument, reading FDR’s words to a nation troubled by poverty and war, they see eerie parallels.”

     “We’re almost there,” one memorial visitor said of the statue of Americans in a bread line, according to the Journal. “People are very afraid.”

     However, things aren’t nearly as dire as they were during the Great Depression – a fact Phillips did point out. Gross domestic product (GDP) – which grew 2.8 percent in the second quarter of 2008 – hasn’t declined as much as it did throughout the 1930s when the rate was at negative 27 percent. Unemployment currently stands at 6.1 percent – a fraction of Depression era unemployment of roughly 25 percent.

     Phillips’ report featured Depression survivors Roberta and Ross Smith of Pacific Grove, Calif. The couple said the times aren’t comparable.

     “The Smiths are Republicans,” Phillips wrote. “For them, the memorial to a Democratic president evokes the shared sacrifice of their youth. Neither thinks today’s problems yet come close to those of the Great Depression or the subsequent world war.”

     “By the time we came through all that, we’d seen the worst of it and all, the rest of it looked pretty good to us,” Mr. Smith said to the Journal. Today’s crisis, he said, “affects your pocketbook; that affected your life.”

     The Journal article is just one of several examples of Great Depression hype by the media. A recent Business & Media Institute report, “The Great Media Depression,” revealed the media compared current economic conditions to the Great Depression more than 70 times in the first six months of 2008.