Last fall, when the jobless rate hit a five-year low of 4.4%, Vice President Cheney was asked by ABC's George Stephanopolous why the administration didn't get more credit for it. "Well," said Cheney, "you guys don't help."
So much for the understatement of 2006. Cheney, of course, was referring to the now-obvious fact that even when there's good news about the economy, it's played down — or turned upside down — by the mainstream media.
Coverage of that unemployment report, coming just before the congressional elections, was just one of many cases in point, as the Media Research Center (MRC) pointed out at the time.
ABC reported on the "exceptionally low" rate, as Stephanopolous described it — albeit 19 minutes into its evening newscast.
But "CBS, and NBC to a lesser extent, spun the good news into bad," MRC observed. "Though wages had grown by 3.9% over the (previous) 12 months, CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric used the lower unemployment news as a segue to ask: 'But do the jobs out there pay enough? A big issue in the battle for Congress this year is how much the lowest-paid workers make.'
"Viewers then saw a full story on the plight of minimum wage workers and how raising it is 'resonating' with voters."
No wonder, said MRC, that an ABC News/Washington Post poll taken just before the election found more than half of Americans (53%) thought the economy was "not so good" or "poor."
"The big broadcast networks have buried the good economic news under an avalanche of bad news stories," MRS concluded. "While the real world offered good news, the networks presented pain."
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