NBC, CBS Downplay Good News about Economy

     The Dow Jones had its second-best closing average ever and consumer confidence shot up, but CBS and NBC undercut the good news with speculation on hurricanes and “echoes” of corporate scandals.

     “With gas prices dropping by the day, Americans are suddenly feeling a whole lot more confident” about the economy, CBS anchor Katie Couric noted during the September 26 broadcast, before introducing an Anthony Mason story on the dropping price of natural gas.

     Even so, Mason warned viewers, “don’t count your savings just yet. Even though the forecast is for a milder energy bill this winter, your meter will still be at the mercy of weather and world events.” Using the backdrop of video clips of hurricane devastation and war, Mason then posited that “another Katrina whipping through the Gulf or an escalation of tensions” could send crude oil and natural gas prices up again.

     While it’s true that supply shocks from foreign tension and natural disasters can affect price, Mason didn’t mention just how inactive the hurricane season this year has been. In fact, respected hurricane expert William Gray has downgraded his earliest predictions twice.

     “A team led by William Gray of Colorado State University (CSU) expects 13 named storms and five hurricanes in 2006. Two of these will grow into intense events with 110 mph winds,” the UPI news service reported on September 1.

     Those numbers were a further drop from an even earlier revision that UPI reported on August 3. In that article, UPI noted that Gray’s Tropical Meteorology Project at CSU had “reduced their forecast for named Atlantic tropical storms to 15, down from the 17 they forecast on May 31” while reducing the predicted hurricane tally “at seven, down from the previous forecast of nine.”

     Over at NBC, anchor Brian Williams told  viewers of a “strong, late-day push” in the stock market that resulted in a “six-year high” close of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: NYX). But immediately following a chat with CNBC market watcher Maria Bartiromo, Williams contrasted the market performance with “echoes from the two worst corporate scandals in American history” as he told his audience of the 6-year sentence former Enron CFO Andrew Fastow received while former Worldcom executive Bernie Ebbers began a 25-year prison sentence in Louisiana.