The Washington Post has a good think piece on page one today, exploring public’s gloom on the economy, which isn’t great, but isn’t as bad as many apparently believe: “Why We’re Gloomier Than The Economy”
Kudos to the Post and reporter Neil Irwin for a worthwhile examination of an important topic.
One cavil, though:
Some analysts attribute Americans’ negative views on the economy to media coverage, which tends to play bad news more prominently than good news. There is ample research proving that, say, a drop in the stock market or rise in the unemployment rate gets more extensive news coverage than a move in the reverse direction. (In other news, newspapers tend to cover plane crashes more extensively than a safe landings).
But that has been true during past downturns. There is no obvious reason that it would be more pronounced now than in 2001 or 1990, when consumer confidence did not drop as much as it has recently.
Oh, c’mon. Here’s an obvious reason: 2008 is an election year, a presidential election year. The mainstream media favor politicians whose arguments for interventionist government policies get a boost from a sour public mood about the economy.
UPDATE (11:30 a.m. Thursday): Michael Novak, noting a study from his AEI colleague Kevin Hassett and John Lott: “Why has so much of the media accepted the deep recession story when the data is so mixed? The most plausible explanation is that many are motivated by political bias.”
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