Editor's Note: This story originally ran on our sister site www.Businessandmedia.org.
When is an increase in consumer confidence bad news? When ABC reports it.
Network anchor George Stephanopoulos led off the news cast with this gloom-and-doom teaser: "Terrible Tuesday. Inflation surges. Stocks dive. And consumer confidence nears a record low."
But Stephanopoulos left out a key detail: consumer confidence increased according to the network's own measure. "U.S. overall consumer confidence rose last week, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll released Tuesday," the August 19 Dow Jones Newswires reported. ABC never mentioned that in its report.
Instead "World News with Charles Gibson," reporter Betsy Stark addressed rising inflation and declining stocks and ignored the rise in confidence. "The government's latest report on inflation sent a powerful signal that the beleaguered American consumer may not have faced the worst of it yet," said Stark.
Stephanopoulos concluded the segment by adding that "consumer confidence is just two points from a record low." He called it "a real blow to retailers who are hoping for strong back-to-school sales this year."
Apparently, the American consumer isn't quite as downbeat. While the numbers don't show a major uptick, they did improve. "According to the survey, 11% of respondents expressed confidence in the economy, up from 10% the week before. Also, 47% of those polled said their own finances were in good standing, unchanged from the prior week. In assessing the buying climate, 19% of respondents said it was good, up from 18% a week earlier," Dow Jones reported.
Stark continued ABC's negative tone, warning that job losses were the solution. "Economists say the cure for this kind of pervasive price inflation is a bitter pill. Which is, if more Americans were to lose their jobs and have even less to spend, prices would probably come down."
She reinforced this view with comments from Bruce Kasman, chief economist with JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM), who added this: "The solution from the point of view of the U.S. economy, comes from weaker domestic demand and weaker hiring. And obviously, that's a very painful process."
But Stark didn't include any other options, like a tightening of the money supply. First Trust Advisors L.P. Chief Economist Brian Wesbury warned about the problems of inflation in the August 19 Wall Street Journal, saying "our economy is addicted once again to easy money and low interest rates."