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good news becomes bad news

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    Interesting story about how the media reports economic news

    Media Spun Employment Stories During 1996 and 2004 Elections, Study Shows
    By Randy Hall Editor
    October 14, 2004

    ( - The major national media turned similar economic numbers into a positive story for then-President Bill Clinton in 1996 and negative news against President George W. Bush in 2004, according to a report released on Thursday by a group dedicated to challenging misconceptions in the media about free enterprise.

    The Free Market Project's study, "One Economy, Two Spins," documents coverage of unemployment reports from May through September in 1996 and 2004 on ABC, NBC and CBS evening news broadcasts, the primary evening newscast on CNN and news articles in the Washington Post and the New York Times.

    "Their coverage of jobs and the economy in these two election years demonstrates, perhaps more clearly than any other monitor, how the media choose sides in presidential elections," said Herman Cain, chairman of the Free Market Project, which is a division of the Media Research Center, the parent company of

    "While both presidents could take credit for creating more jobs and lowering the unemployment rate, there were four times as many as favorable Clinton stories as there were for Bush," Cain added.

    The report indicates that the media have consistently criticized the Bush record, including 13 straight months of positive job creation, more than 1.5 million new jobs in 2004 and an unemployment rate that dropped from 6.3 percent to 5.4 percent.

    But eight years ago, the media regularly hailed the Clinton record of seven straight months of positive job creation, more than 2 million jobs in 1996 and an unemployment rate that dropped from 5.8 percent to 5.2 percent.

    Other key findings from the study include:

    -- Clinton good, Bush bad. Stories about jobs under Clinton were positive 85 percent of the time, more than four times as often as they were for Bush despite similar economic data. When the Clinton unemployment rate hit 5.6 percent, reporters perceived it as "low," but they ignored an even better 5.4 percent rate under Bush.

    -- Good news becomes bad news. Under Bush, reporters presented good economic data as bad news stories by minimizing positive achievements and emphasizing people who might be out of work or regions of the U.S. that were still "struggling." The opposite approach was taken under President Clinton. Then, reporters explained away a 0.2 percent rise in unemployment as minor or "not necessarily bad news."

    -- Ignoring job impact from the 9/11 attacks. The media never mentioned the more than 1 million jobs that were lost due to the 9/11 attacks. Only six stories (13 percent) dealing with jobs during the study period mentioned terrorism or 9/11. No story detailed the enormous job losses as a result of the attacks.

    -- CNN the best; CBS the worst. No network has been consistent in its coverage of Clinton and Bush, but CNN did the best of a bad field covering jobs and unemployment. The network was balanced in its coverage of the Clinton economy and did characterize one month under Bush as positive. CBS was the most unbalanced in its coverage.

    CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather particularly merits criticism, the report indicates.

    Rather downplayed an unemployment increase under Clinton, and the reporter covering the story claimed it wasn't even bad news. After the five monthly unemployment reports in the summer of 2004, the network didn't find any good news to report. CBS didn't air any negative job creation and unemployment stories during the Clinton months.

    "Any objective observer would conclude that the economic numbers in both years were positive, but the media have not been objective and have proven to be a disservice to the public when the public needs them most," Cain said.

  • #2
    Re: good news becomes bad news

    Doesn't surprise me a bit. I've gotten to where I don't trust the directional reporting of many media outlets, if a story or article is of any importance or interest to me, I'll check multiple sources and get many different portrayals of the same thing. Seems to be getting worse to me....




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