By Larry Elder
Thursday, November 29, 2007
"There seems to be a pattern here. It takes a Clinton to clean up after a Bush."
So said presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., during a speech -- specifically on the economy -- before a crowd in Knoxville, Iowa. Okay, we understand campaign sloganeering -- purportedly funny lines and the like during the campaign season. But shouldn't the Associated Press, in reporting Clinton's line, provide the reader with a little information?
Let's look at what incoming President Bill Clinton "cleaned up" when he took over from President George H. W. Bush in late January 1993. Despite the relentless economic news by the traditional media, Clinton entered office with an economic recovery two years old. During Bush-41's last year in office -- 1992, the year voters elected Clinton -- the economy grew 3.2 percent. President Clinton's average economic growth during his eight years was 2.4 percent.
Now look at what incoming President George W. Bush faced. The economy peaked in September of 2000. Many economic indicators, such as industrial production, peaked in September 2000 -- Clinton's last full year in office -- and continued to slide through January 2001, when Bush took office. The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), a non-profit organization the government uses to determine economic cycles, states the recession began in March 2001, some six weeks after Bush took over. So when W entered the White House, he dealt with an economy entering a recession -- a recession that, according to the NBER, lasted until November 2001.
Sen. Clinton's quip elicited applause from her audience, but how many in the crowd knew about the economic conditions Clinton enjoyed when entering office, or the downturn W confronted when he did so? Small wonder that so many remain ignorant about this when the Associated Press, in covering Clinton's economic speech, provides no information.
Harvard, along with the Project for Excellence in Journalism, part of the Pew Research Center for People and the Press, recently put out a study confirming the type of liberal bias in the media that denies information to consumers of news.
The study found that Democrats got more news coverage than Republicans -- 49 percent of the stories versus 31 percent. It also found the "tone" of the coverage for Democrats was more positive, 35 percent compared to 26 percent for Republicans. "In other words," the study says, "not only did the Republicans receive less coverage overall, the attention they did get tended to be more negative than that of Democrats. And in some specific media genres, the difference is particularly striking."
In 11 newspapers -- including The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, USA Today and Wall Street Journal -- front-page stories about Democrats had a "clear, positive message" 59 percent of the time, and only 11 percent had a negative tone.
For the top Democratic candidates, the difference was even more striking: Barack Obama received coverage that was 70 percent positive and 9 percent negative, and Hillary Clinton's was 61 percent positive and 13 percent negative. On the other hand, only 26 percent of the stories on Republican candidates were positive and 40 percent negative.
Democratic candidates received 49 percent of television's evening network newscast stories, while Republicans got 28 percent. And 39.5 percent of the Democratic coverage had a positive tone, while 17.1 percent was negative. But for Republicans, only 18.6 percent of the network evening news coverage was positive and 37.2 percent negative.
But perhaps you didn't hear about the Harvard/Pew study. When it was released, only 20 news stories about the report could be found in a Nexis search, and most of those made no mention of the extreme levels of bias.
Back to the Associated Press coverage of Sen. Clinton's economic speech. The Associated Press could have and should have written something like this:
"While Clinton's quip elicited applause from her audience, the actual facts say something different. Her husband, President Clinton, inherited an economy that in its last full year averaged 3.2 percent growth. So, in reality, her husband inherited an economy in a recovery, not in a recession. Similarly, President George W. Bush inherited an economy that was, according the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), the non-profit organization the government uses to determine economic cycles, heading toward a recession."
Okay, okay, wake me, I'm dreaming.