Morning Shows Return to Pessimism on Economy

     Three days after airing stories on the strong U.S. economy, the network morning shows returned to pessimism. The December 5 morning shows on ABC, CBS, CNN, and NBC all interviewed Dan Bartlett, counselor to President Bush about the economy. Every program was negative in tone, but only Diane Sawyer of ABCs Good Morning America used the occasion to press for tax hikes.

     How Americans are feeling, frankly, Dan, is scared, warned CNNs Soledad OBrien, after showing Bartlett a graphic of the presidents approval rating on the economy at 40 percent. I mean, the war [in Iraq] goes on, I look at my heating bill. It may be triple what it was last year, she fumed. 

     Today show co-host Matt Lauer similarly worried that a strong economy would also drive up heating costs while CBSs The Early Show, co-host Hannah Storm expressed concern that Christmas shoppers are largely opting for discount retailers. Storm demanded of Bartlett, What can you tell the majority of Americans who actually feel that the economy is getting worse? 

     Good Morning America host Diane Sawyer went one step further, pressing the case for tax hikes, citing comments by outgoing Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan.

     There are people, Sawyer informed Bartlett, including Alan Greenspan of the Fed who have said with these deficits, these mounting deficits, it is simply hard to look at this economy as anything but on thin ice, no matter what. No new taxes?

     Sawyers economic prescription was bad medicine. Bartlett reminded her that raising taxes rather than cutting government spending would harm the American taxpayer without addressing the problem. She even mischaracterized Greenspans comments. 

     The Associated Press reported Greenspan recently told a London economic conference he was impressed with the U.S. economy. Economic growth, which in the third quarter clocked in at 4.3 percent, was a "solid performance, said Greenspan, noting that despite the disruptions of hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma, economic activity appears to be expanding at a reasonably good pace as we head into 2006. 

     Where Greenspan saw cause for concern, reported the AP, is in maintaining strong free trade policies and in curbing the drain on the budget presented from entitlement social spending. 

     The media have previously distorted Greenspans pronouncements, as the Business & Media Institute has reported on issues such as taxes and the so-called housing bubble.  

     The Business & Media Institute recently published a Special Report bursting the medias bubble on the housing bubble, in part documenting how the media have inaccurately portrayed Greenspans views.

     The Media Research Centers, has similarly recorded previous confusion in the media regarding what Greenspan has said about taxes.