Upside Down Economics

Despite much better economy, networks blamed President Bush more than President Obama for financial troubles.

It’s easy to conclude there was an enormous imbalance of economic coverage from 2004 to 2012. From stories that merely mentioned the word “economy,” to specific economic issues, the networks proved unwilling to hold President Obama to the same scrutiny to which they’d subjected President Bush.

It is clear from September 2004 reports that the networks viewed the economy under Bush to be a big problem for his re-election. Ironically, in 2012, even though journalists noted many times that Mitt Romney would need to campaign on the economy (implicitly saying Obama’s economy was a problem) they often turned those points into criticism of the Romney campaign, rather than a problem for the administration. 

In other cases, such as gas and oil records, network reporters spoke pessimistically in 2004, but optimistically in 2012 – when prices were nearly double. ABC, CBS and NBC reports were also wildly inconsistent on issues of debt and deficits.

In an election season marked by repeated allegations of media bias, this difference in economic coverage stands out as tangible proof that journalists do not treat conservatives and liberals the same way.