The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Good guy lawyers; ‘60 Minutes’ goes off
track on NASCAR; and the media overestimate job losses from Katrina.
October 12, 2005
Â Â Â Â While
lawsuits over insurance claims from Katrina are heating up, The New
York Times showed that some lawyers actually help limit the problem
of runaway litigation. CBS showed that, while NASCAR might seem
simple to some, it’s too confusing for TV news. And no matter how
much the media talk about the horrible impacts of Katrina, they
never seem to be accurate.
Â Â Â Â The media love a good lawsuit story, like “Erin
Brockovich,”Â that paints business as evil. But the Times
turned the tables on that concept with “The Tort Wars, at a Turning
The October 9 story by Jonathan D. Glater detailed massive
abuses that took place during the silicosis lawsuits where defense
lawyers “may have just changed the rules of so-called mass tort
litigation.” They did it by showing how many people also had put in
similar claims during the asbestos trials. If you ever felt lawsuits
were out of control, you should read this.
Â Â Â Â It doesn’t take much for journalists to show their bias
against mainstream America. Take, for example, the October 9 edition
of CBS’s “60 Minutes” that
profiled NASCARÂ and painted its promotions as
“hucksterism” and advertisers as “not wholesome” while the product
itself was portrayed as a “good ol’ boy Southern Confederate flag
sport” hostile to minorities. Reporter Lesley Stahl’s piece betrayed
a lack of understanding of both ordinary Americans and capitalism,
but veteran racer
Richard Petty helped her out on that second point.
Â Â Â Â The doom-and-gloom scenario has been a Katrina staple.
The storm sent media people into a frenzy of bad predictions of $4-
and $5-per-gallon gas, but the
predictions about unemployment were even worse. Joel Havemann of
the Los Angeles Times wrote of losses of up 500,000 jobs in
September. But when the dust cleared after the latest jobs report,
he was off by about 465,000. The economy turned out to be moving
along far better than the media had said it would be.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly tracks the best and worst media
coverage of business and economics. Readers are invited to submit
suggestions or news tips to Director Dan Gainor at