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Thursday, August 6, 2009
Double Standard Fail At the MRC
Topic: Media Research Center

In an Aug. 3 MRC TimesWatch post, Clay Waters accuses the New York Times of employing a "double standard" on reporting on the economy. His evidence? A recent article noting that the rate of contraction in the economy has slowed, "crystallizing expectations of a turnaround in the second half of the year." Waters complained that this "portrayed it in positive terms," while an August 2008 Times story carried the headline "More Arrows Seen Pointing to a Recession" despite slight growth in the GDP.

Waters somehow missed the fact that the 2008 article noted "arrows pointing to a recession" because that's what was, in fact, happening -- even though his excerpt of the article also noted "a surge in claims for unemployment benefits" and that a previous quarter's GDP numbers "were revised downward to show a contraction -- the first official slide backward since the last recession in 2001." 

The article also noted that the growth in that particular quarter was due to increased exports, a decrease in imports, and consumer spending spurred by a federal tax rebate: "Without that contribution, the economy would have contracted."

While Waters makes a big deal out of how the recent numbers "mark the first time in years the economy has contracted for four straight quarters," at no point does Waters dispute that a slowing of contraction could be described, as the Times' headline stated, a "hopeful sign" -- just that the Times portrayed it as such.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:22 AM EDT

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