The U.S. created 155,000 jobs in November. Although it was lower than forecasts the number was “not bad.” In fact, it’s still more jobs than are needed to keep up with population growth and drive down the already low unemployment rate. But that’s not how the networks covered it.
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.
With the nation still in mourning from the passing of former President George H.W. Bush, NBC spent six minutes, 19 seconds during their Thursday evening broadcast on stories that amounted to bad news for President Trump and/or the Republican Party before they finally got around to mentioning the final day of the funeral services.
Following his $100 million midterm donations to Democrats and an official party registration switch, many bet former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg will run for president in 2020. Let media speculation over his odds (and promotion of his candidacy) begin.
The stock markets were volatile in October, including an all-time Dow Jones Industrial Average high and some “major” falls. Unfortunately, the broadcast networks preferred to show the bad side of the economy.
The network evening news shows focused on the “major selloff” and “meltdown” on Oct. 10 and 11 and ignored a record high on Oct. 3, as well as a 500-plus point gain on Oct. 16.
Stocks set records, consumer confidence shot up, and economic growth estimates were revised up.
These three good economic news stories happened back to back to back on Aug. 27-29. Meanwhile, ABC World News Tonight, CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News ignored all three on those nights.
On Monday, the White House sparked controversy after the American flag atop the building was raised from half-staff before the remains of Senator John McCain were even in the Capitol. Also on Monday, the White House struck a brand new trade deal with Mexico that would end yet another theater in the administration’s trade wars and is said to help American businesses and consumers. The former was part of a long-running political feud while the latter affected the lives of millions of Americans. Both ABC and CBS actually spent more time during their evening broadcasts on the feud than the end of a trade war.
On Monday, columnist James Freeman at the Wall Street Journal's "Best of the Web" noted the selective memories seen in the vast majority of the press over President Donald Trump's relatively noncommittal but nonetheless protocol-breaking tweet an hour before Friday morning's upcoming jobs report. Many of them had a serious case of the vapors, but didn't recall three instances when former President Barack Obama did the same thing during his presidency, with as much or more specificity.
The media are treating the economy like a good-news/bad-news story. The good news is the economy is going well and unemployment is down to just 3.9 percent — the best since 2000. The bad news is ABC, CBS and NBC evening news programs don’t want to talk about it. ABC's World News Tonight, CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News continued to supply minimal reporting of economic issues between April 1, and May 5, 2018. Out of 105 news programs (35 nights and a show on each of the three networks) there were just 18 stories about the U.S. economy — or in less than one-fifth of the broadcasts, according to a Nexis search.
CNBC’s on-air editor Rick Santelli reacted to the April consumer confidence numbers positively, but the same night ABC, CBS and NBC evening news programs all ignored the latest update of consumer attitudes toward the economy, as did their Spanish-language counterparts, Univision and Telemundo. “Some breaking news: Consumer confidence, we are looking for a read on April and the number is 128.7, sequentially following 127 [in March]. This is a really good number. 128 and change is the best level since February's 130. 130 was best level going back to the year 2000. Very lofty levels indeed,” Santelli said during Squawk on the Street on April 24.
Stock markets have been stumbling and volatile since late January. But to hear The Washington Post tell it, that means the tax cuts failed to do what President Donald Trump said they’d do.
The Nasdaq Composite, a tech-heavy index of 5,000 stocks, set new record highs again on March 9 and 12. Citing that and a host of other economic factors, market expert Marc Chandler described the current state of the economy as a “Goldilocks moment.”