The very same day stock market gyrations captured the media’s focus, government agencies announced a decline in the U.S. poverty rate and an increase in household net worth.
But the networks skipped any and all good economic news on Dec. 6, and only made room that night for negative economic stories about Wall Street and the market’s “wild ride.” The networks also showed a preference for bad news as markets were climbing, often skipping record highs in 2017 and early 2018.
NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt led with the markets saying it was “another day to look away” as it devoted 1 minute 47 seconds to the market volatility. NBC reminded viewers the Dow also suffered an 800 point loss two nights earlier during a tough week for stocks. On Dec. 6, in spite of a drop during the day, the Dow closed only down by 79 points. CBS Evening News spent 13 seconds total on the “turbulent day.” ABC World News Tonight had no economic coverage that night.
At least, NBC reporter Tom Costello acknowledged, “Market pros urge investors not to panic, insisting the U.S. economy remains strong.”
However, none of the three broadcasts cited economic fundamentals to help underscore that reality. Nor did they report any good economic news that had been announced the same day — in those stories, or separate ones.
The Census Bureau reported Dec. 6, that the U.S. poverty rate fell throughout the economic recovery, according to The Wall Street Journal. The five-year period of 2013-2017 showed a 14.6 percent poverty rate, down from 14.9 percent in the prior five years.
The Journal also reported on Dec. 6, that “total net worth of U.S. households rose further into record territory during the third quarter of 2018, as higher property and stock prices boosted the wealth of Americans.”
Also on Dec. 6, CNBC interviewed JP Morgan Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon at a Business Roundtable event about the markets and the overall economy.
Dimon told CNBC, “We still have a strong American economy. So if you speak to most of the CEO’s, they say: their order books are good, consumer balance sheets are good, unemployment may very well hit 3.3% this year. That’s all good.”
He acknowledged “geopolitical” concerns, especially trade issues that are causing people to wonder and that uncertainty is “swinging the market all over the place.”
Throughout the year, the networks have hyped stock drops and volatility after ignoring upswings and records.
In October, the Dow set an all-time record high (the 15th record high in 2018) on Oct. 3. But all three network news reports failed to acknowledge the record. About a week later, they reported the “major selloff” and “meltdown" as the Dow plunged, proving the networks’ preference for bad economic news.
Although more recently the market has been volatile and bearish, the market rose dramatically for much of 2017 and parts of 2018. The three network news shows censored about 75 percent (62 of 82 records) of Dow record highs between Jan. 1, 2017, and Jan. 26, 2018.