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.”
The February 2018 stock market correction was painful to watch, but the news media exaggerated the situation — piling on panic and blame with descriptions like “crash” and “freefall” — after ignoring most previous records.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped by over 1,000 points by Thursday's closing and the folks at ABC News were eager to place the blame on someone during World News Tonight. That someone, of course, was President Trump and the much welcomed GOP tax cuts, which were responsible for generous bonuses and wage increases across the country.
When the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down nearly 1,200 points on Monday, the three major network news outlets (ABC, CBS, and NBC) dedicated nearly 10 minutes of combined coverage to the drop when they began their evening broadcasts. 24 hours later, the market bounced back and closed with a 500-point rebound, but the networks spent roughly half as much time on the positive news.
Throughout the day on Tuesday, MSNBC’s anchors and correspondents lectured President Trump on the perils of touting a surging stock market, in the wake of Monday’s losses. However, all of the journalists at the liberal cable channel seemed to forget how often Barack Obama similarly took credit for stocks being on the rise during his administration.