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Free Market Project

3/4/2006 2:48:49 PM

Updated 02/24/06

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CNN’s Serwer Huffs and Puffs about Bad News from Detroit
But business reporter turns around hours later to declare the economy ‘just right.’

By Ken Shepherd
Free Market Project

Dec. 02, 2005

     The economic news of December 2 was good – positive job creation figures joined strong economic growth and consumer confidence for an uplifting week on Wall Street. But CNN’s “American Morning” focused on two companies whose news was bad.

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     Kicking off business coverage at 6:15 a.m., CNN’s Soledad O’Brien solemnly declared the morning’s business briefing was “a litany of bad news, really. Plant closings and layoffs, declining sales, it’s sort of adding up to a very gloomy holiday season, especially at Ford.”

Send this page to a friend! (click here)     Taking that cue, business reporter Andy Serwer promised it was bad news “especially if you’re an auto worker,” noting that morning’s edition of The Wall Street Journal reported Ford Motor Company planned on laying off 7,500 workers and closing production facilities in St. Louis, Atlanta, and St. Paul. Serwer added that it was only “speculative at this point, the company is not commenting.”

     Serwer also reminded viewers of layoff plans announced last week by General Motors Corp. and white-collar layoffs recently from Ford. “The picture is bright for the Japanese and not-so-bright for the Americans,” concluded Serwer.

     Yet over on NBC’s “Today” show, when host Katie Couric asked CNBC’s “Mad Money” host Jim Cramer about slumping car sales in November, Cramer reminded her that not all automakers were suffering. Sales were down mostly among cars made by Detroit-based companies, he said, but Japanese imports like Toyota were doing well. Toyota, Cramer added, is “going to be the largest new employer in this country in the next five years,” a fact that Serwer failed to mention in his negative forecast.

     Two hours later, Serwer was forced to change his tune a bit. The Bureau of Economic Analysis released a statement revealing 215,000 jobs were added to the U.S. economy in November – 5,000 more than expected by many economists. Serwer went from huffing and puffing about the woes in “Detroit Slump City” to making a Goldilocks evaluation of the economy: “it’s one of those deals, not too hot, not too cold, so it’s not inflationary, it shows the economy is expanding, but not too much.”

     Meanwhile, ABC’s “Good Morning America” and NBC’s “Today” featured positive portrayals of the U.S. economy. ABC’s Gibson interviewed Jennifer Openshaw of Openshaw’s Family Financial Network, who proclaimed “customer confidence is very strong despite some real hits to the economy,” and predicted a strong return of investors to the stock market. Over on NBC, CNBC’s Cramer told Couric to “forget the gloom” some skeptics have forecast for holiday retail sales, noting, “retail sales should have been down 10 percent, they were up a little bit.”


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