Economic growth grew at an incredibly sluggish 1.3 percent in the second quarter, revised down from 1.7 percent. According to business writer Jim Pethokoukis, this is "dangerously slow." However, NBC skipped the bad news for Barack Obama entirely. ABC allowed it a mere 21 seconds. CBS was the only network to allow the story a full report.
Although Nightly News correspondent Chuck Todd couldn't find time to mention the scant amount of growth, he did hype the fact that the President is trying "a new line." Todd then played a clip of the President calling "for a new economic patriotism." The journalist helpfully parroted that the President's "idea of economic patriotism includes tax hikes on the wealthy and more government spending on infrastructure."
The only coverage ABC gave the subject came when World News' David Muir played a brief clip of Mitt Romney railing, "1.3 percent versus Russia at 4 percent. China at seven to eight percent. We're at 1.3 percent. This is unacceptable." This amounted to 21 seconds.
CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley offered the most straight forward, comprehensive look. Pelley opened the program by declaring, "It turns out the economy is growing even more slowly than we thought."
He added, "The government told us that U.S. growth in the second quarter was an anemic 1.7 percent, but today, the Commerce Department put out a new estimate showing us it was even less than that, just 1.3 percent."
Blogging at the American Enterprise Institute, Pethokoukis explained the ramifications:
Bottom line: Growth the past two quarters has averaged about 1.6%. Not only does this mean the economy is growing more slowly than last year’s 1.8%, it is also slow enough to signal about a 50% chance of a recession within a year. And the third quarter also looks weak.
None of the morning shows (NBC's Today, ABC's Good Morning America or CBS's This Morning) on Friday covered the news. The Evening News segment clocked in at three minutes and 16 seconds.
ABC News' small amount of coverage shouldn't be surprising. The network offered the least amount of time for the Republican and Democratic conventions.
When the Census Bureau on September 12 found a decline in middle class income, ABC skipped that, too. Embarrassingly for the news division, it took non-journalist Elisabeth Hasselbeck to break the silence and ask Barack Obama about the subject. She did so when the President appeared on The View, September 25:
ELISABETH HASSELBECK (to Obama on The View, September 25): Some concerns that I think many Americans may have right now, especially, they especially lie with the recent findings by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Census so -- including the median household income that flatlined and fell across the board this year. Income gap -- which we talk about all the time, between the poor and the richest -- actually grew to the widest it's been in 40 years, and 23 million Americans are out of work or just stopped looking. Some would ask, is it unfair to assume that Mitt Romney may fail the middle class when, statistically speaking, they'd argue that your administration is failing the middle class. How do you respond to that?
A partial transcript of the September 27 CBS Evening News seegment can be found below:
SCOTT PELLEY: Good evening. It turns out the economy is growing even more slowly than we thought. The government told us that U.S. growth in the second quarter was an anemic 1.7 percent, but today, the Commerce Department put out a new estimate showing us it was even less than that, just 1.3 percent. And this is what caught our attention in the report -- the government said half of the downward revision can be blamed on the drought. It`s destroying crops, including the corn in this field in LeRoy, Illinois. And on the land Clayton Arnold has been farming in Walker, Missouri, for 40 years. A new report today on the drought says it continues to get worse. It now covers 65.5 percent of the lower 48, and in 21.5 percent of that area, the area you see in red, the drought is extreme or exceptional.
ANTHONY MASON: One piece of good news today, weekly first-time unemployment claims dropped to a two-month low. And the Labor Department says the economy actually added nearly 400,000 more jobs over the past year than originally estimated.
PELLEY: Well, Anthony, there's still about 12.5 million people who are unemployed. What does a quarterly growth rate of 1.3 percent mean to them?
MASON: Well, typically, Scott, you look for about a growth rate of about two percent to really bring down the unemployment rate. So if we see a revision like that, the drop of 0.4 percent, it has significant impact on job growth, Scott.
PELLEY: Not nearly enough to create jobs. Anthony, thanks very much.