It is my hope that calling attention to media bias and distortion will empower the public and policymakers to be better news consumers in 2006. We must demand that the media stop treating us like were stupid. We must show them we know the facts. To this end, the Media Research Centers Business & Media Institute, which focuses on the accuracy of business and economic news, has released its list of the Top 10 Media Myths of 2005.
10. America should follow French fashion in business. The media fawned when France adopted a shorter work week a few years ago, but the economic results have left no room for utopian dreams. With unemployment twice that of the United States and productivity declining, the French had to admit their plan was going out of style a point driven home painfully in that countrys recent riots. Now if only the U.S. media could admit that European welfare states dont work.
9. We must raise taxes to cope with ballooning deficits. This is an old media favorite, made new this year with Hurricane Katrinas devastation and the continuation of the Iraq war. Theyre quick to say the only answer is to raise taxes, despite the economic boom that has followed the 2003 tax cuts and deficit reductions to the tune of $96 billion, thanks to higher tax receipts. The media never want to cut spending, except in areas where they disagree politically, like the war.
8. Global warming is causing stronger hurricanes. The media are intent on blaming the Bush administration for global warming. But scientists say theyre not sure man is causing global warming, and theyre even more adamant that global warming and hurricanes are not related.
7. America is cheap with its foreign aid. I get tired of hearing multimillionaire celebrities saying the United States doesnt do enough for poor countries. This country gives more than any other in terms of foreign aid, and that doesnt even include private donations, which were three times greater than official government aid in 2003.
6. Hurricane Katrina will send the economy into a tailspin. This years destructive hurricanes didnt end with Katrina, and they were tragic for thousands of people. But Americans showed their resilience once again as job growth continued and the oil supply recovered surprisingly quickly from the storms interruptions. Once again, the media were quick to predict the worst, and thank God it didnt come to pass.
5. The housing bubble is about to burst. The media have been harping on this one for years. Way back in 2001, the housing market was supposedly on the verge of catastrophe. Journalists dont seem to understand that there is no such thing as a national housing price. Each local market has its own ups and downs. And when prices start to go down, its good news for those who want to buy.
4. Americans are dying to be fat. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released shocking statistics this year on obesity-related deaths, giving more ammunition to those who blame the food industry for Americas weight problems. Later CDC studies revealed their statistics were faulty, but both the CDC and the media continued to hype the false stats instead of giving people the truth.
3. Consumers are choosing between food or fuel. According to the media, the hurricane-related spike in gas prices was going to kill the rest of the economy, including little Susie and Johnnys Christmas. Funny how retail sales blew that gloomy prophecy out of the water during the Thanksgiving shopping rush, and gas prices declined when the oil supply made a quick post-hurricane recovery.
2. Big, profitable companies are up to no good. The media like to use the guise of corporate responsibility to excuse their socialist leanings. Oil companies, targeted with a windfall profits tax, caught the brunt of this argument despite their low profit margins. Wal-Mart also suffered this year from media mayhem because it refuses to give in to the way the media think it should be run.
1. The U.S. economy is hopeless. Coming in at No. 1 on the list, this media myth just boggles the mind. We have the worlds greatest economy, enjoying 30 straight months of positive job growth, 16 straight quarters of GDP growth and low unemployment. I dont know what else we can do to convince the media that things are going well.
Herman Cain is the former president and CEO of Godfathers Pizza, Inc. and currently is CEO and president of T.H.E. New Voice, Inc., a business and leadership consulting company. He is the National Chairman of the Media Research Centers Business & Media Institute.