A concluding note. Weisman's lead story in the Washington Post, a story about economic good news if there ever was one, carries this subhead, "Tax Cuts 'Working,' President Says, but Some Voice Caution." The Media Research Center has issued a study showing how the mainstream press treated good economic news in the Clinton years and in the Bush years.
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Unsurprisingly, there was a big difference. Good economic news in the Clinton years was presented as good economic news. Good economic news in the Bush years was presented with caveats and warnings that it might not be so good. And this even though many of the basic numbersGDP percentage increase, unemployment percentageswere almost identical in the two presidents' re-election years of 1996 and 2004. Intentional bias may not be at work here, just the bias that is inevitable in a mainstream press in which about 90 percent of the reporters and editors are Democrats. With a Democratic president in office, they are on the lookout for good news and present it lavishly; because they assume Democratic economic policies will be good for the country. With a Republican president in office, they are on the outlook for bad news; because they assume Republican economic policies will be bad for the country.
And if you're on the lookout for bad economic news, you can always find it. Robust economic growth might produce inflation; national economic recovery might not penetrate to every geographic region or demographic category; robust increases in stock prices or housing prices might prove to be an economic bubble. Thus Weisman and his editors, probably surprised by the decline in the federal budget deficit, nonetheless can find reasons why it might not be such good news. If a Democrat were in the White House, they probably wouldn't have bothered.