Tasmanian Devil-Like Spin: NY Times Twists Anemic GDP Report

April 27th, 2023 12:37 PM

Leave it to the propagandists at The New York Times to try to sprinkle some sugar over an anemic GDP report. 

The Times economics writer Ben Casselman broke out some confetti for the latest economic report showing a lackluster 1.1 percent GDP growth in the first quarter, which was notably slower than the 1.9 percent forecast. But look on the bright side, bleated Casselman in his sub-headline, “[t]he gross domestic product increased for the third straight quarter as consumer spending remained robust despite higher interest rates.” Casselman’s own headline was heavy on nuance and lacking on context: “U.S. Economy Grew at 1.1% Rate in First Quarter.” Contrast the headline with how other outlets reported the GDP story and The Times’s gambit to protect President Joe Biden’s image from the bad economic news becomes clear. Here was CNBC’s headline: “GDP report points to dreaded stagflation, but these stocks can still work in this environment.” Here was Bloomberg News: “US Economic Growth Slows to 1.1% While Inflation Accelerates.” [Emphasis added.]

Casselman’s spin might even give Looney Tunes character Tasmanian Devil a run for his money.

Casselman tried to lace the bad report with a silver-lining in his lede paragraph: “Higher interest rates took a toll on the U.S. economy in early 2023, but free-spending consumers are keeping a recession at bay, at least for now.” But the kind of consumer spending that Casselman is pushing as some kind of a saving grace to the economy is not what it seems. In fact, Wells Fargo analyzed that the GDP data indicate that “consumer spending has lost momentum over the past few months. Moreover, consumers are relying increasingly on credit and stockpiled cash to finance their purchases. These factors are not sustainable, in our view.”  Casselman didn’t mention anything about the increasing reliance on credit. [Emphasis added.]

In fact, Casselman didn’t even mention that the GDP numbers were significantly slower than expected. Instead, he foolishly suggested that the U.S. economy was supposedly on the right track: 

Gross domestic product, adjusted for inflation, rose at a 1.1 percent annual rate in the first quarter, the Commerce Department said on Thursday. That was down from a 2.6 percent rate in the last three months of 2022 but nonetheless represented a third straight quarter of growth after output contracted in the first half of last year, [emphasis added].

Other outlets didn’t even bother to sugarcoat the atrocious GDP report as Casselman did. The headline ABC News went with on the GDP report was: “US economic growth slowed significantly at start of 2023.” The Wall Street Journal also didn’t try to cover up the obvious: “GDP Report Shows Economic Growth Slowed in First Quarter.” MarketWatch called the GDP report “lackluster.” 

Casselman did finally conceded that “early forecasts suggest that G.D.P. growth is likely to slow further in the second quarter, and many analysts think a recession is likely later this year.” But, of course, he buried that context at the bottom of his story.

Conservatives are under attack. Contact The New York Times at 800-698-4637 and demand it quit trying to spin the anemic Q1 GDP report.