With the so-called “inverted yield curve” for bonds creeping up on Wednesday, ABC and NBC sprinted to stoke fears that “a recession could be on the horizon”, as NBC White House correspondent Kristen Welker declared. But over on CBS Evening News, chief financial analyst Jill Schlesinger was telling viewers to “run your life as if this were just any old day.”
For days, the broadcast networks have been warning of a nation in “turmoil,” with “outrage” and downright “panic” sweeping across the country. The source of the crisis? Last year’s tax reform law that allowed Americans to keep more of their own money. In short, the media were aghast that some taxpayers were getting smaller refunds or even owing money to the IRS after having less money taken out of their paychecks throughout the year.
Stocks “rebounded in spectacular fashion in January,” but anyone reliant on network news programming may not have noticed since the networks proved yet again to care far more about bad economic news.
ABC, CBS and NBC evening news shows covered the bad news for stocks in December and January more than four times more than positive market news during that time (1,745 seconds to 422 seconds or 29 minutes, 8 seconds vs. 7 minutes, 3 seconds).
On Friday, ABC’s Good Morning America touted a new ABC News/Washington Post poll claiming that a majority of Americans oppose the Republican tax plan that was announced on Thursday. The only problem was that the survey was conducted October 29 through November 1, meaning that any questions about tax reform were asked before the GOP actually released the legislative proposal.
On Monday, all three network morning shows found time to worry about IRS budget cuts meaning fewer audits and longer wait times for taxpayer assistance, but not one mentioned the ongoing scandal embroiling the agency, including Congress issuing a criminal referral for former IRS official Lois Lerner. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
On ABC's Good Morning America, news anchor Amy Robach warned: "More tax evaders could slip through the cracks this year....we are learning the IRS will have the fewest agents auditing returns since the 1980s due to budget cuts and new IRS responsibilities." On Friday, ABC's World News covered the same story – while ignoring the House Ways and Means Committee calling for Lerner's prosecution.
While the media are now calling the ObamaCare rollout a "mess" and the website a "bust," some journalists and pundits were a lot more optimistic right before the exchanges opened.
Despite warnings that the website and exchanges would not be ready to open on time, journalists marveled over how easy the website, Healthcare.gov, would be to navigate. That optimism crumbled as, in one notable case, it took CNN's Elizabeth Cohen two weeks to sign up for ObamaCare. Below are the five most embarrassing endorsements of Healthcare.gov:
CBS This Morning did its best over two days to put the most positive spin on the rollout of the ObamaCare insurance exchanges. On Saturday, the newscast turned to Bloomberg's Peter Gosselin, who likened the exchanges to "shopping for anything online on Amazon". However, the program failed to point out that Gosselin once worked in the Obama administration, and advised HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on health policy.
Two days later, the morning show turned to CBS News business analyst Jill Schlesinger, who followed Gosselin's lead in likening the exchanges to a popular website: "This is really like going to shop for a flight on Travelocity." Schlesinger also noted that ObamaCare "has to get young, healthy people in it, or else the math does not work". However, she insisted just moments later that the marketplaces will "work out all right", despite the initial glitches. [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]