Despite a number of significant economic developments, major network and cable Sunday shows have been largely silent on the economy.
Media Matters research reveals that from May 12 to June 9, five major Sunday shows devoted only approximately 35 minutes of economic coverage.
During this time period, the Sunday shows were silent on the economy and missed an opportunity to cover significant developments.
Despite the various economic developments over this period, CNN and major network Sunday shows devoted little time to those stories. Only during the week of June 2 did coverage of the economy rise above five minutes, which provided three-quarters of the coverage for the entire five-week period.
In recent weeks, Sunday morning network news programs have virtually ignored economic issues, instead devoting hours of coverage to the September attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya; improper targeting of conservative nonprofits by the Internal Revenue Service; controversial federal investigations of national security leaks; and new revelations about National Security Agency surveillance programs.
Cable and network news outlets barely covered the announcement that General Motors will return to the Standard & Poor's 500, a landmark achievement for the company that was booted from the index after filing for bankruptcy four years ago.
Fox News spent nearly four hours on June 4 covering that day's House committee hearing on the IRS' inappropriate focus on conservative groups, largely ignoring the simultaneous Senate committee hearing into the epidemic of sexual assaults in the military.
On May 29, CNN and MSNBC hosted all-female panels to respond to Pew research released that day that found that a record number of working women earn more than their spouses. Fox News, however, hosted no panel on the subject that day and Fox Business hosted an all-male panel that concluded that the research was a reflection of society's downfall.
Pew Research released a study on May 29 which found that mothers are the primary or sole source of income in a record 40 percent of all American households with minor children. Pew's report included both single mothers and married mothers who earned a higher income than their husbands. In response to the study, both CNN and MSNBC hosted panels of female guests to discuss the findings.
On the May 29 edition of CNN's CNN Newsroom, Brooke Baldwin hosted fitness expert Donna Richardson and career consultant Maggie Mistal to comment on the study. Richardson discussed her experience as the primary provider and caregiver in her household and Mistal offered advice to working mothers.
Likewise, on the May 29 edition of MSNBC's All In with Chris Hayes, Chris Hayes hosted Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL), Salon's Rebecca Traister and MomsRising.Org's Monifa Bandele to comment on the study.
According to searches of Media Matters' internal video archive, Fox News hosted no such panel on May 29. Fox News hosts Shepard Smith and Bret Baier and Fox Business's Lauren Simonetti briefly mentioned the study.
Lou Dobbs on the May 29 edition of his Fox Business show Lou Dobbs Tonight hosted a panel of all men -- Fox contributors Juan Williams, Erick Erickson, and Doug Schoen -- to discuss the study. On this panel, Erickson reacted to Pew's research by comparing the relationship between men and women to the relationship between male and female animals, concluding that men losing their dominant role in the family is "tearing us apart."
Fox News' The Five co-hosts Greg Gutfeld, Andrea Tantaros, Dana Perino, Eric Bolling, and Bob Beckel covered the Pew Research study on May 30, supporting Erick Erickson's position that the increase in the number of women earning more than their spouses signals a breakdown of society.
The post has been updated for clarity.
Is the media's heavy focus on Washington "scandals" pushing positive economic developments to the wayside?
CNN correspondent Christine Romans observed that focus on Washington "scandals" may be knocking positive economic news off the agenda, claiming "now the economy is slowly healing, all the conversation is about controversies though."
Romans isn't alone in her observation. On the May 29 edition of MSNBC Live, Talking Points Memo's Igor Bobic highlighted the fact that "scandal-mania" in Washington is taking all the oxygen out of positive economic developments, prompting host Thomas Roberts to note, "There really is this obsession we have in D.C. right now talking about the IRS or Benghazi or even the DOJ scandal, but we're not talking about where we're moving economically as a country, but it is in a positive direction."
Indeed, media has been largely silent on economic gains, most recently demonstrated by an underreporting of the housing price surge.
On May 28, Standard & Poor's released its Case-Shiller index of home prices. The report showed that in March, housing prices rose at an annual rate above 10 percent, posting the largest gain in the housing market since April 2006.
This positive news, however, did not garner any significant attention from cable news networks. According to a Media Matters analysis, in the day following the release of the Case-Shiller report, Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN spent a total of nine minutes and 32 seconds discussing the surge in housing prices.
Housing prices in March rose at the highest annual level since April 2006, a sign of positive economic development that went largely underreported by cable news networks.
Reporting that House Republicans are investigating whether Attorney General Eric Holder lied to Congress during his recent testimony about Justice Department seizures of communications records in connection with a national security leak investigation, CNN's Dana Bash misstated key facts of the controversy. In so doing, CNN helped bolster the hollow claims of Republicans -- wildly hyped by Fox News -- that Holder may have perjured himself.
On May 15, Holder appeared before Congress to answer questions about the revelation that the Department of Justice had seized phones records from the Associated Press covering a two-month period and had done so without notifying the news organization. The seizure was part of an investigation of the leak of classified information published by the wire service.
During the hearing, Holder was asked if prosecutors could charge journalists with a crime if they published leaked material.
Holder said that was a bad idea: "With regard to the potential prosecution of the press for the disclosure of material - that is not something I've ever been involved in, heard of, would think would be wise policy." [Emphasis added.]
Since then, it was revealed that Fox News' James Rosen had been described as "at the very least, either as an aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator" in a 2010 FBI affidavit in support of warrant seeking permission to look through the reporter's phone records as well as the contents of his personal email account. The FBI was looking for correspondences with then-State Department security adviser Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, who has been charged with leaking classified information to Rosen about North Korea in 2009. Holder approved of the warrant request. (Rosen was never charged with a crime.)
Using his May 15 testimony, Republicans and Fox hosts have pounced, claiming Holder contradicted himself.
As CNN explained it (emphasis added):
Though he testified in a May 15 Congressional hearing that he's "never heard of" the press being potentially charged for obtaining leaked material, it has since been reported that he signed off on the Justice Department's decision to seek a search warrant in 2010 for Fox News reporter James Rosen's private e-mails as part of a leak probe.
That was CNN's first mistake: In the Congressional testimony cited, Holder did not address the idea of charging reporters with a crime for "obtaining leaked material," as CNN suggested in its report. Instead, Holder said he had never been involved with potentially charging a reporter for "the disclosure of material." (i.e. Obtaining and disclosing materials are two different acts.)
Media coverage of the effects of across-the-board spending cuts has narrowly focused on Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) furloughs, largely ignoring the broad effects of cuts on other programs and agencies.
On April 26, the House of Representatives approved legislation to end furloughs at the FAA, which had caused significant flight delays. The agency had previously warned that automatic spending cuts would force rolling furloughs of roughly 15,000 air traffic controllers and other staff.
In the week leading up to the House vote, media was heavily focused on the effects of FAA furloughs. A Media Matters analysis found that in the week of April 22 to April 28, 49 cable and broadcast evening news segments mentioned the automatic budget cuts. These segments offered little analysis beyond highlighting the long lines and flight delays expected at airports.
Media's focus on the effects of budget cuts in the past two months has largely been confined to discussing effects on the FAA. On May 24, "Furlough Friday", four federal agencies -- the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) -- forced 115,000 employees to take a day of unpaid leave. As reported by Politico, this forced closure represented the "largest nonweather related partial government shutdown in recent memory."
Despite the impact of "Furlough Friday" on the ability of federal agencies to operate, media remained largely silent. Broadcast and cable news segments were seven times more likely to cover sequestration during the week of FAA furloughs than the week of EPA, HUD, IRS and OMB furloughs. The disparity comes despite the latter round of forced leave affecting nearly eight times more workers across a broader range of government.
Despite the media's lack of coverage, sequestration is still in place and all federal agencies are being forced to cut corners. The budget cuts even altered Memorial Day celebrations across the country over the holiday weekend.
The long-term effects of fiscal austerity can be seen from low-income school closures to impaired military readiness. Another 700,000 federal employees -- mostly in the Department of Defense -- will be forced to take unpaid leave through the remainder of the year.
Media coverage of the automatic spending cuts commonly known as sequestration has tapered off since the policies went into effect on March 1. This drop in coverage comes as more Americans report having personally felt the effects of the cuts.
The recent brutal slaying of a gay man in New York City had all the trappings of a national news story, so why was it ignored by major cable news outlets?
On May 17, Mark Carson was shot in the face and killed while walking home in New York's Greenwich Village by a man who pelted him with anti-gay slurs and asked, "You want to die tonight?" Carson's alleged killer, Elliot Morales, reportedly laughed as he was arrested by police, bragging about what he had done.
The incident highlights a recent spike in anti-gay hate crimes both in New York City and across the country. Days after Carson's death, community members staged a massive rally against anti-gay violence featuring several city mayoral candidates.
Carson's death was also symbolically significant. The shooting took place just blocks away from the Stonewall Inn, considered by many to be the birthplace of the modern gay rights movement. And the brutal hate crime comes in the wake of growing acceptance of LGBT people, with three more states adopting marriage equality just in the past several weeks.
But despite the significance of Carson's death, cable news outlets largely ignored the incident, opting instead to continue obsessively reporting on the trial against Jodi Arias, a woman who has been convicted of murdering her boyfriend.
According to an Equality Matters analysis, while all three major cable news networks extensively covered Arias' trial and her plea to jurors to avoid the death penalty, CNN spent less than one minute discussing Carson's murder, and Fox News ignored the story completely:
Fox News ignored the brutal murder of a gay man in New York City, which has been labeled a hate crime by local police, while CNN underreported the story. Even though the attack is part of a disturbing spike in anti-gay violence in New York, the cable networks instead focused on covering the proceedings in the trial against Jodi Arias.
The news that electric carmaker Tesla Motors has repaid its federal loan early is being ignored by some of the same outlets that tried to make the bankrupt solar company Solyndra the face of the Obama administration's green initiatives -- including ABC, which suggested Tesla wouldn't be able to repay its loan.
On Wednesday, Tesla announced that it was paying back its $465 million Department of Energy loan with interest. The move came about nine years ahead of schedule and is expected to net taxpayers somewhere in the range of $15 to $26 million. Once derided as a "loser" by then-presidential candidate Mitt Romney and a "failure" by Fox News, Tesla is now profitable and critically-acclaimed.
Yet many in the media have ignored Tesla's loan repayment, which flies in the face of the media narrative that Solyndra was representative of the Department of Energy's loan guarantee program. Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, ABC and NBC have so far failed to cover Tesla's loan repayment (CBS gave a news brief on its morning news show). An analysis by Media Matters showed that those same outlets (excluding CBS) devoted 188 segments totaling over 10 hours to Solyndra in the month after the company suspended operations, as seen in these charts comparing coverage to that surrounding a government corruption case at the Minerals Management Service and a report on military contracting waste and fraud:
The bout of positive news surrounding Tesla follows several skeptical media reports about its fortunes. In 2011, ABC suggested that "Tesla's business plan doesn't work" and thus it wouldn't repay its loan:
Since that segment, a Nexis search shows that neither Nightline nor any other primetime ABC News show has followed up with a report on the company's fortunes.
UPDATE (5/31/13): On the May 30 edition of The Last Word With Lawrence O'Donnell, MSNBC covered Tesla's loan repayment in a report on the successes of the clean energy loan programs. The only other coverage of the loan repayment from the networks above came on the May 25 edition of Fox News' The Journal Editorial Report, when Wall Street Journal editorial board member Kimberly Strassel mentioned it while suggesting Tesla might not be "sustainable" in the long run.
While Fox News has devoted extensive airtime to pushing scandals that have since begun to fall apart, it has largely ignored new allegations of sexual assault in the military.
From the May 19 edition of CNN's State of the Union:
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