Maximize the Good News, Minimize the Bad: An Object Lesson From CNN's Closing-Bell Emails

The past three weeks in the stock market have gone as follows: Week ended July 22 -- Pretty good; week ended July 29 -- Really bad; week just ended -- Absolutely awful.

After I received a remarkably vague e-mail from CNN just after 4 p.m. today, I thought I'd go back and see how it handled its closing-bell emails during the previous two weeks. It was quite revealing.

The three emails follow the jump:

July 22:


Note the specificity about how much each of the three key indices advanced during the week.

July 29:


Okay, the email tells us it was the worst week of the year, but it only specifically says what happened with the Dow.

August 5:


Sure, it says that we've just been through one of the worst weeks, but this time we get no specifics. Were all the calculators in CNN's offices broken or what?

For the record, here is what has happened during the past three weeks with each of the major indices (Dow; S&P 500; NASDAQ):

Week of July 22: Dow, +201 pts. (+1.6%); S&P 500, +29 pts. (+2.2%); NASDAQ, +69 pts. (+2.5%)
Week of July 29: Dow, -538 pts. (-4.2%); S&P 500, -53 pts. (-3.9%); NASDAQ, -102 pts. (-3.6%)
Week of August 5: Dow, -699 pts. (-5.8%); S&P 500, -93 pts. (-7.2%); NASDAQ, -224 pts. (-8.1%)

Maximize the good news, minimize the bad -- a tried-and-true propaganda technique CNN's emails have worked to perfection during the past three weeks. Can you imagine how readers not following the news closely would react to 7%-plus and 8%-plus losses in the S&P and NASDAQ, respectively? We can't have that.

Cross-posted at

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