Couric Calls CBS Business Reporter Mason the 'Grim Reaper'

     You might be a little one-sided when “CBS Evening News” anchor Katie Couric says your economic reporting is regularly so pessimistic that you sound like the “grim reaper.”

     CBS News Business Correspondent Anthony Mason, at least in the past several months, has not found a negative economic story he didn’t like. He gave another downbeat report on the U.S. economy on the January 30 “CBS Evening News” in the wake of the Federal Reserve’s decision to cut 50-basis-points off its Fed funds rate.

     “Anthony, you’re starting to sound like the grim reaper every night,” Couric said, following a January 30 segment about the economy on “CBS Evening News.” So – but it’s good to have you.”

     Mason warned Standard & Poor’s, a financial research firm, just announced it may cut its ratings on some securities associated with the turmoil in the subprime lending market.

     “The Fed has another headache tonight,” Mason said. “Standard & Poor’s just announced it may cut its ratings on more than half a trillion dollars of subprime mortgage securities. That means Wall Street banks could face hundreds of billions of dollars more in subprime losses. And Katie, this could have a devastating effect on the financial markets.”

     On January 16, Mason evoked the memory of the Great Depression, the worst economic collapse in the modern industrial world, to describe U.S. banking problems.

     Mason also followed a trend that’s becoming increasingly popular with the media to assess the economy – the use of non-traditional economic indicators to gauge the economy – this time, flower sales.

     “Bing Goei runs seven florist shops with 100 employees,” Mason said. “So far he hasn't had to lay off any workers, but he says the Feds rate cuts won't sell more flowers.”

     A decrease in McDonald’s sales, the price of Starbucks coffee, lower RV sales and an increase in sweater sales, because Americans can’t afford to run their heaters, have been other such “economic indicators” the media have used to indicate the U.S. economy is spiraling down.

     CBS has a reputation for be the worst in economy coverage. In October 2006, a Business & Media Institute study, “Bad News Bears,” showed 80 percent of the full-length stories on the “CBS Evening News” delivered a negative view of the economy – easily the worst of the three broadcast news programs.