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Free Market Project

3/4/2006 12:41:54 PM

Updated 02/24/06

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The Good, the Bad & the Ugly
Post reports how states restrict medical technology; CBSs gas price reporting running on fumes; CNN reporters heap attacks on restaurant industry.

Nov. 30, 2005

     A Washington Post reporter drives into the sunset as The Good, while CBSs Joie Chen sputters to a stop on gas prices and CNNs In the Money gang is just plain ugly.

The Good
     Kathy Orton of the Washington Post  reported on a new way to get second opinions from medical experts: going online. The November 29 editions health section piece was based on Ortons personal experience with one such service, the e-Cleveland Clinic, in diagnosing a heart condition. While she also conveyed the concern some doctors have about these services, Orton informed readers she found the service helpful to her situation (although she had to fudge her legal residence on a form in order to benefit from the service, which is banned in the District of Columbia). By doing so, Orton documented how technology, the free market, and medicine can work to the benefit of public health, if only the state would step out of the way.

The Bad
     CBSs Joie Chen wouldnt know falling gas prices if they hit her. Thats the obvious conclusion to draw from her report on the November 27 CBS Evening News where Chen remarked, Gas prices are still high, but at least now theyre averaging under $3-a-gallon. In reality, gas prices have been plummeting since October 6 and were only briefly above the $3 mark in early September, just after Hurricane Katrina. The current price at the time of her report was far under $3 at $2.15 a gallon.

The Ugly
     Heaping up more one-sided coverage on the obesity issue, CNNs November 26 In the Money interviewed dietician Lisa Young, a star of the anti-food-industry Supersize Me. Young, promoting her new book, The Portion Teller: Smartsize Your Way to Permanent Weight Loss, was joined by the programs co-hosts in blaming restaurants, food packagers, and the FDA for obesity problems in America. At one point Young even blamed the relatively cheap cost of food for obesity, but none of the co-hosts, business reporters all, reminded Young that cheap, abundant food supplies are a good thing. No representative of the restaurant or processed foods industries was brought on to counter Youngs charges.

The Good, the Bad & the Ugly tracks the best and worst media coverage of business and economics. Readers are invited to submit suggestions or news tips to staff writer Ken Shepherd at