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CBS Upstages Good Economic News with Foreclosure Worries

     The U.S. economy didn’t grow as strongly as the government first thought this winter. It did far better.


     But of the three broadcast evening news programs on June 29, only the CBS  “Evening News” picked up on the story. And CBS soured it by featuring a story focused on one Massachusetts man’s house foreclosure.


      “There was good news on the economy today. It’s growing even faster than earlier estimates had it,” Schieffer reported, noting a “sizzling annual rate of 5.6 percent.”


     The retiring news anchor then informed viewers about a Wall Street rally upon news that the Federal Reserve expects it won’t need to raise interest rates again for a while.


     But Schieffer turned that positive news on its head, adding that “an end to steadily rising interest rates would be good news” to some homeowners but “too late” for others facing foreclosure.


     Correspondent Trish Regan picked up the story in Cape Cod, Mass., where “the home at 29 Woodbury Avenue” went up on a foreclosure auction.


     But while Regan set about portraying home foreclosures as touching middle class families with otherwise affordable houses, the correspondent left out the fact that the house featured in her report was far more expensive than the average home in Hyannis.


     Regan informed viewers the former owner, Ned Toby, had bought the “$300,000-home” two years ago and showed an auctioneer closing the sale at nearly $320,000. Yet according to Internet real estate broker HomeGain.com, the average house in Hyannis cost $177,730 or slightly more than half the cost of Toby’s house..


      “In the last year” Massachusetts foreclosures were up “105 percent,” Regan noted before airing a clip of realtor Sheila Farragher-Gemma, who claimed that thousands of “people are losing their homes on a daily basis.”

           

     Regan followed up with a warning that “foreclosures jumped 28 percent nationwide over last year” in May 2005 and blamed Federal Reserve interest rate hikes for causing adjustable rate mortgages “to skyrocket.” Toby, the homeowner, had an adjustable-rate mortgage – a choice made by many who can’t afford a down payment. Regan did not say whether Toby had had the opportunity to refinance and lock in a lower rate. However, considering the average home prices in his area, he could have bought a less expensive home to begin with.