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October 01, 2012

Fascinating Chart of the Day

The yawning gulf between how Democrats and Republicans perceive the state of the economy:

Hmm... what could possibly account for such widely divergent perceptions of reality?

...Valentino Larcinese, Riccardo Puglisi, and James M. Snyder Jr. counted economics-related stories published by major American newspapers from 1988 to 2005 (for big-circulation chains) and 1996-2005 for the others.

....The authors ... found a clear and strong effect in the 102 papers they studied (all the newspapers in the NewsLibrary archive, plus the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times). "When the unemployment rate was one percentage point above the average," they write, "newspapers with a strong propensity to endorse Republican candidates reacted with 15 percent per month more articles under Clinton than under Bush. For the same one percent increase, newspapers with a strong pro-Democratic endorsement policy have 9 percent less news on unemployment under Clinton than under Bush."

Another study with similiar findings:

Our results suggest that American newspapers tend to give more positive news coverage to the same economic news when Democrats are in the Presidency than for Republicans, and a similar though smaller effect is found for Democratic control of Congress. Our results reject the claim that “reader diversity is a powerful force toward accuracy.” When all types of news are pooled into a single analysis, our results are highly significant. However, the results vary greatly depending upon which types of economic data are being reported. When newspapers are examined individually the only support that Republicans appear to obtain is from the President’s home state newspapers during his term. This is true for the Houston Chronicle under both Bushes and the Los Angeles Times during Reagan. Contrary to rational expectations, media coverage affects people’s perceptions of the economy.

No wonder the NYTimes,WaPo, et al, are so threatened by the existence of a single conservative-leaning news network. Message discipline is so much easier when you control the microphone.

The Business and Media Institute analyzed broadcast network news references to gas or fuel prices between Jan. 20 and Feb. 20, 2012 and from March 24 and April 24, 2008. BMI found that in the 2008 period there were more than 4 times as many gas prices stories, news briefs or news headlines on ABC, CBS and NBC as there were in 2012 (97 to 21).

Coverage during the time periods differed not only in quantity, but in tone as well. During Bush’s tenure, gas prices were a huge economic threat and cause of suffering. The networks also used the high gas prices to attack the administration. In 2012, the networks aired mostly matter-of-fact stories on the rising gas prices, and worried primarily that they would hinder the economic recovery, not that they are making people suffer.

Dismal broadcast network reports about “skyrocketing” gas prices filled the newscasts in 2008. There were reports about businesses closing, airlines struggling and truckers protesting -- all because of the high prices. One ABC report said families were facing the “tough choice” between food or fuel. Others said that “wallets were running on empty” and consumers were told over and over that there was no relief in sight. But by the end of November 2008, prices had collapsed to $1.82.

The networks weren’t simply reporting the painfully high gas prices in early 2008 though, in many cases they were exaggerating them. NBC’s “Today” focused on Redwood City, Calif. on March 6 where regular gasoline cost $3.99, according to the photograph NBC aired. The national average for gas that day was $3.19 a gallon. Ann Curry also failed to tell viewers that California has the highest state gasoline tax in the nation, a whopping 45.5 cents a gallon at that time.

On gasoline specifically, reporters have routinely showed photos of extreme pump prices despite lower national averages. The Business and Media Institute documented this trend in 2007, 2006 and 2005.

When you stop to consider that most people seek out news sources that confirm their pre-existing biases, this result isn't all that surprising. But perhaps more importantly, it illustrates the dangers of assuming that people who don't think like conservatives will be persuaded by the same arguments that conservatives find persuasive. What is self evidently self evident to us, isn't to progressives.

Posted by Cassandra at October 1, 2012 07:39 AM

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I see a new reality television series.

Posted by: La Femme Crickita at October 1, 2012 09:40 AM

It's irritating as a commentary on the ethics of the press, but it's a great opportunity for conservatives to make a killing in the market. That kind of identifiable bastion of economic ignorance ought to make for some advantageous trades.

Posted by: Texan99 at October 1, 2012 10:15 AM

I'm more interested in the 50% drop in the percent of democrats hearing bad news in a single month!.

It had been on the upswing, and in one month drops to the lowest level in a year.

Couldn't possible be caused by the run-up to the election.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 1, 2012 10:35 AM

This is interesting taken with the fact that Red states have been doing better, during this downturn, than Blue ones. If they're spinning so successfully among people who live in the worst-hit states, they must be spinning hard.

Posted by: Grim at October 1, 2012 10:42 AM

Or the blue states have very different criteria.

Posted by: tomg51 at October 1, 2012 04:09 PM

I was told in a news ad the other day that the reason that Ohio had added 120,000 new jobs since Gov. Kasich (R) had taken office in Jan 2011, was because the "Obama Plan" was working. This had nothing to do with cutting the budget to make it balance and cutting some taxes. There is now $400M dollars in the "rainy day" fund when in 2010 there was $.85

Wonder why it's not working in Illinois?

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at October 1, 2012 08:07 PM

Obstructed by evil Republicans in Congress, no doubt.

Posted by: Texan99 at October 1, 2012 09:45 PM

Unfortunately this graph doesn't surprise me one bit. Especially after having family with us for the last 7 days! Yes, SEVEN days! LOL

Literally have 4 of them, who are in their 50's, late 60's, and early 70's (one of them) who have determined that they don't need to vote. Nothing will happen after the election that will affect them one way or another . . . This at the same time as they were bitching about the rising costs of their medicines, how expensive everything was getting, and how we have got to stop these expensive wars!

I mainlined a LOT of coffee and wine these last few days . . . and will be running a lot the rest of this week to make up for it! **Don't get me wrong - loved having them here, but as a small business owner myself it was all I could do at times not just . . .well never mind! ;-)

Posted by: Nina at October 2, 2012 08:38 AM

coffee and whine

Posted by: tomg51 at October 3, 2012 08:37 AM

where's my shocked face?

(hi cass!)

Posted by: kate at October 3, 2012 07:12 PM

Maybe it's with Rumplestiltskin's angry wig.

Posted by: DL Sly at October 3, 2012 07:41 PM

Hi Kate!

Posted by: Cass - Confirmation Bigot-in-Training at October 3, 2012 07:45 PM