Networks 'Cherry-Pick' Data to Blame Slowdown on Housing Woes
Although there have been some signs of a settling housing market, as new home sales rose an unexpected 3.3 percent in April from March, actual home prices fell 14 percent in the first quarter of 2008, causing a network news frenzy on May 27.
That night the three networks tied the housing crunch to struggling small business owners and people raiding their retirement accounts, while âKudlow & Companyâ reminded viewers how many people own their homes free and clear.
âThe downward slide for home prices is only picking up speed,â CBS correspondent Anthony Mason said on the May 27 âEvening News.â âThe 14 percent plunge nationally was led by
âNBC Nightly Newsâ wasnât much better, presenting the same figures and echoing the exact same sentiment.
ABCâs May 27 âWorld Newsâ at least mentioned the 3.3 percent increase in new home sales amid its negative coverage.
Despite the network negativity, not all analysts see this as the crisis that some in the media portray. In fact, one expert, Zachary Karabell, president of River Twice Research, said the media are making the situation sound worse than it really is by âcherry-pickingâ the parameters of their reporting.
âThey just kind of cherry-pick the beginning point to make it seem as bad as possible,â Karabell said in a May 27 appearance on CNBCâs âKudlow & Company.â âAnd hey, you know, news and media are culpable in this because in order to generate attention and audiences, you sometimes have to sometimes ratchet up the rhetoric.â
âWell, you know nobody ever says âthe most incredible home rise increase since x,â which is basically happened from 2001, 2002 through late 2006,â Karabell said. âAnd while itâs true that if you bought your home in 2006, youâre in a world of hurt, if you bought your home before that, youâre still probably in a majorly positive equity position and people donât talk about that.â
Dennis Kneale, a fill-in host for the May 27 âKudlow & Company,â echoed Karabellâs point. If the housing market is looked at in its entirety, the crisis is not as bad as it is made out to be â only one-third of the existing homes in the
â[T]hereâs 120 million homes in