CBS Talks Down the Economy with Biased Reporting
Trish Regan ignores the numbers to criticize Greenspans rosy forecast.
July 21, 2005
midst of a robust economy with steady job growth, strong gains in
GDP, and little inflation, the CBS Evening News sees soup kitchens
and long unemployment lines. Unsatisfied with Alan Greenspans
sunny assessment of the economy, Trish Regan chose uninformed
views over factual news to paint her own bleak picture. To spread
pessimism, Regan took to the streets, where reality trumps
During the July 20, 2005, broadcast, news anchor John Roberts introduced Regans report by warning, What you think can depend a lot on who you are, what experts youre listening to, and especially whether you know someone who is out of work. He was right.
- Who you are: Trish Regan countered 3.7 million new jobs over 25
months, a 5.0% unemployment rate, 3.8% GDP growth in 1Q 2005,
bolstering consumer confidence figures, and shrinking federal and
trade deficits with negative opinion from people on the street. One
of Regans subjects portrayed an economy on the brink, Its very
tenuous. It could fall apart at any moment. One bad piece of news,
one additional terrorist attack, one negative corporate earnings and
it goes right down again.
What experts youre listening to: Again, Regan ignored the
overwhelming strength of the economy in favor of cynicism from John
Challenger (a Chicago-based outplacement consultant). Challenger
warned: Theres been a heavy spate of major layoffs. It suggests we
may be hitting a tipping point in the economy.
Challenger should be surprised the economys even capable of tipping so soon. In an October 18, 2003 interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Challenger predicted that the job market would start bouncing back late this year that the bounce will be relatively small and awfully slow. He doesnt expect a real boom until maybe 2008. Obviously, that prediction didnt pan out. So, theres little reason to believe his forecast should pass Regans reality test.
- Whether you know someone who is out of work: Regan obsessed over
layoffs at Kodak and Hewlett-Packard: In June, nearly 111,000 jobs
were lost, making it the worst stretch of job losses in nearly a
year and a half. Meanwhile, the Labor Department reported that new
claims for unemployment benefits spiraled down by the largest amount
in two and a half years. Even though this reality trumped Regans
dire forecast, she left that tidbit out of her report.
After ignoring the abundance of good news about the economy, Regan added to her laundry list of economic pitfalls by warning of rising energy costs and a housing bubble that reporters have obsessed over for months. She didnt mention that, despite the high price of oil, inflation has held steady at 1.6% in May.
Like some embellished weather forecast, Trish Regans prediction of gloomy skies and trouble ahead shouldnt be taken seriously.