Jewish World Review April 2, 2004 / 12 Nissan, 5764

Jack Kelly

Jack Kelly
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
James Glassman
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
Michelle Malkin
Jackie Mason
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Journo advocates for economic misery should get real | In his story March 26 on the likelihood that National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice would testify again before the commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks, Adam Nagourney of the New York Times wrote: "With the economy faltering and Democrats so united, Mr. Bush's terrorism credentials are portrayed by his supporters as the strongest assets he had going against Mr. Kerry."

Even if it were true, it would have been of dubious relevance for Nagourney to include the phrase "with the economy faltering" in a story on an unrelated topic. But it isn't true. The Commerce Department reported March 25 that the economy grew at a 4.1 percent rate in the last quarter of 2003. Coupled with the 8.2 percent growth rate for the third quarter of 2003, the economy has experienced its fastest six months of growth since the period January-June 1984.

And the economy should continue to grow at a greater than normal rate. The AP reported that "economic growth in the January to March quarter is expected to clock in at 4.5 percent, some analysts' forecasts say. Growth in the April to June quarter should also be around that pace."

"I consider it a booming economy," Timothy Rogers, chief economist for a Boston firm that provides data and analysis for investors, told USA Today. Nearly all the 55 other prominent economists contacted by USA Today had the same view.

Most economic indicators are strong. The unemployment rate (5.6 percent) is the same as it was in January, 1996, when President Clinton was running for re-election. Journalists described a 5.6 percent unemployment rate then as "low," which it is in historical terms.

The "misery index," (the rates of inflation and unemployment added together, a term invented by Jimmy Carter to bash President Ford in the 1976 campaign) is lower than it was in aggregate for Clinton's first term. Home ownership and corporate profits are at record highs.

The economic picture is not without smudges, most notably the sluggish growth in employment as measured by the employers' survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). (The household survey, also conducted by the BLS, which includes self employment and gives more weight to small business, indicates employment is at a record high.) It's reasonable to view the employment situation with concern. But to describe the economy as a whole as "faltering" is to take an unconscionable liberty with the truth.

Donate to JWR

But taking liberties with the truth is what the "mainstream" media (by this I mean the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the news departments of ABC, NBC and CBS, and — to a lesser degree — the Washington Post and the Associated Press) are all about these days. They are functioning less as journalists than as the propaganda arm of the Democratic National Committee. Democrats and the news media have been talking down the economy for months, and it has had an impact. A survey of consumer confidence March 16 by ABC news and Money magazine indicated it had fallen for the 4th time in 5 weeks, to a 10 month low. Consumer confidence usually does not decline in the early stages of a boom.

The relentless emphasis on the negative in the news media's coverage of the economy also could explain an anomaly in the consumer confidence survey. In the ABC/Money poll, 53 percent of respondents said their own personal finances are in excellent or in good shape. A majority of Americans think they're doing all right. Their concern is for others, and that concern is based on what they see on television, and read in the newspapers.

Democrats are fond of saying, and journalists are fond of repeating, that two million jobs have been lost since Bush became president, implying that Bush is somehow responsible for this. But the recession was caused by bursting of the bubble in the Spring of 2000 (when Bill Clinton was president), and was deepened by the Sept. 11 attacks. The recovery began shortly after Bush's tax cuts went into effect, a fact which journalists are less fond of pointing out.

It's understandable why Democrats wish to accentuate the negative. But it is the job of journalists to report all pertinent facts, not just those helpful to Democrats. It's time they did it.

Every weekday publishes what many in Washington and in the media consider "must reading." Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Jack Kelly, a former Marine and Green Beret, was a deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force in the Reagan administration. Comment by clicking here.

Jack Kelly Archives

© 2003, Jack Kelly