Over the weekend, there was more bias by placement on the economic news by the Washington Post. On Saturday, February 4, the great news about the jobless rate dropping to 4.7 percent, with the Post sub-headline explaining "Unemployment Hits Lowest Level Since July '01," ended up on page D-1, the front page of the Business section, a regular lower-profile location for good economic news.
On Saturday, February 11, "Trade Gap Hits Record For 4th Year In A Row" ended up on page A-1, with the Post warning in the first paragraph that this statistic that "soared to a record" is "a reminder of the dangers hovering over a generally robust economy." We should give the Post a little credit for noting the "robust" part, even though that's usually left in the D-section. Both articles were written by Paul Blustein, but both had a blend of positive and negative notes. But the jobless-rate article quoted a mix of experts, from a statement by the Treasury Secretary to independent experts to the Center for American Progress, labeled a "pro-Democratic think tank." (That's a creative way to avoid the "liberal" label.) The trade-deficit piece, on the other hand, features this rather monochromatic list of experts expressing concern over the trade gap:
-- Jeffrey Frankel, "who served on President Clinton's Council of Economic Advisers."
-- Richard Trumka, secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO.
-- Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-North Dakota).
-- Christian Weller, senior economist at that same Center for American Progress, this time only described as a "Washington think tank," not a liberal think tank.
Not included were experts from groups like the Cato Institute that say a widening trade deficit is not exactly front-page bad news.