The network news broadcasts are to blame for the American people's widely held misconception that the U.S. economy is in a recession, according to Media Research Center founder and President L. Brent Bozell III.
"How in the world is it that 81 percent of the American people believe that we're in a recession?" Bozell asked on CNBC's "Kudlow and Company" May 2. "Maybe it's because the national networks this year, and we've counted it, have talked about a recession over 500 times."
Bozell was referring to a poll reported by NBC which showed 81 percent of Americans believe the economy is in recession, in spite of the fact the financial system has not met the definition of a recession, which is two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth.
Figures released last week showed the gross domestic product (GDP) grew 0.6 percent in the first quarter of 2008, the same rate of growth seen in the last quarter of 2007. The growth is undeniably slow, but it is still positive. Unemployment also dropped from 5.1 percent in March 2008 to 5.0 percent in April.
"They were talking about this quarter going down. It went up," Bozell said. "And then there was all this murmuring about unemployment going up. It went down. No, good news is no news; bad news is great news."
Donald Luskin, the chief investment officer of Trend Macrolytics LLC and an advisor to the Business & Media Institute who also appeared on "Kudlow and Company," agreed.
"If it bleeds, it leads," Luskin said. "These people need negative stories. They need sex and violence and degradation and horror and catastrophe and when they can attach that to the economy, they do. It's just terribly sick, self-serving stuff."
Bozell reminded CNBC viewers that they should probably avoid taking economic tips from members of the media, who are better are writing a story than analyzing economic indicators. "What you've got here are people who went to [journalism] school," he said. "They're not economists."