From Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball:
Here’s where President Bush and his campaign have a legitimate beef. The economy has clearly started to roar. New jobs are being created by the hundreds of thousands each month, almost every economic statistic is improving beautifully, and interest rates remain at historically low levels. Yet a large majority of the American public thinks the economy ranges from bad to terrible–far worse than they saw it a couple months ago. Some might say that this is just a reflection of the electorate’s bad mood, induced by the prisoner abuse scandal. That may be part of it, but the national news media–especially the major TV networks–bear great responsibility. Since the economy started its sharp climb upward, the only economic stories consistently covered have been the price increases in gasoline and milk.
Doesn’t President Bush deserve some credit for economic success, having passed his central economic package/tax cut in 2001? Wouldn’t he be taking it on the chin if the story were the reverse? It was, and he did, for three years of his term. Ah, but the media say, “bad news is news; good news isn’t news,” to explain away the lack of positive coverage. Go back to 1996, as the Crystal Ball did prior to writing this e-mail, when another President facing a shaky reelection got a lift from the economy just in time. You’ll find that Bill Clinton secured Big Media’s praise in story after story, talk show after talk show, for his “courageous” 1993 economic package/tax increase–which was frequently and directly tied by reporters to the economic upturn of ’96. Can the media understand why so many conservatives see an anti-Republican double standard at work, especially on the network TV evening news programs? (The Crystal Ball fully acknowledges that neither the Clinton package of ’93 nor the Bush package of ’01 may have had anything to do with economic recovery in ’96 and ’04. But viewers and readers have a right to expect consistency and fairness, regardless of the media’s partisan and ideological leanings.)
Of course we are just imagining it.