Back in the 1990s, TV journalists worried that Bill Clinton wasn’t getting enough credit for the wonderful things that happened while he was President. NBC’s then-White House correspondent Andrea Mitchell whined on CNN’s Larry King Live back on August 18, 1994 that her fear was that Clinton “doesn’t get credit for a lot of the good, positive things he’s done.... The economy is in better shape....He should be getting some credit for the economy.”
Now that a tax-cutting Republican is in the White House, however, big media types are working to bury the news of America’s strong economy. Today’s Investor’s Business Daily has a fine summary of recent good news in an editorial headlined, “The Media’s Blackout on the Boom.” Here’s a key excerpt:
Friday's employment report, showing a much-higher-than-expected increase of 166,000 in nonfarm payroll jobs, was only the latest in a spate of remarkable reports showing the economy's stunning resilience.
Earlier this week, we discovered that, contrary to fears and forecasts of much slower growth in the third quarter, the U.S. economy in fact expanded at a 3.9% rate — even in the midst of a vicious housing downturn, soaring mortgage delinquencies and a credit crunch.
Inflation showed its lowest annual rise since the 1960s, despite oil touching $96 a barrel. Employment costs, rising in the third quarter at 3.8% annual rate, are well under control. The broad stock market, despite an up and down year, has mostly been up — punching repeatedly through its previous highs.
Just three weeks ago, the Office of Management and Budget reported that the budget deficit fell to $163 billion, or 1.2% of GDP, its lowest level in five years. Meanwhile, even the big, bad trade deficit has begun shrinking, as the weak dollar sets off a U.S. export boom.
What's funny about all this is how little is being made of it.
The media have been quiet as church mice about the good news — much the same way they're ignoring signs of a victory in Iraq (see editorial, top left.) But they've found lots of bad news.
Gee, you'd almost think they have an ax to grind.
As the Business and Media Institute pointed out in September, this isn't a recent phenomenon. For at least four years now, journalists have pretended this boom doesn't exist....We've been treated with never-ending stories about the seriousness of the housing collapse and credit crunch and why the good times simply can't last. As recent surveys show, despite the positive trends, Americans are convinced things are horrible.
A CNN/Opinion Research poll taken in mid-October found 46% of Americans think the U.S. economy's in recession. A fluke, you say? Another poll by the American Research Group released Oct. 22 found 40% think we're in a recession, up from 25% a month before.
"A year before voting, a discontented nation" is how a USA Today headline summed it up Friday. Discontented? Why not, after a nonstop media barrage playing up all that's bad and playing down all that's good.