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NBC Ignores 13-Percent-Higher Economic Growth

     The economy is showing strong signs of life with good reports on economic growth, consumer confidence, and new housing sales hitting the news wires in late November. But CBS Evening News and ABCs World News Tonight have paid passing attention, while the NBC Nightly News ignored them altogether in favor of negatively-toned coverage of the Gulf Coasts economy three months after Hurricane Katrina.

     It turns out that U.S. economic growth for the third quarter was 13.2 percent higher than originally thought. On November 30 the federal governments Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) announced that the number had been revised upward from 3.8 percent to 4.3 percent growth.

     The previous day, the Conference Board reported a sharp improvement in consumer confidence,  while the Census Bureau reported strong sales in new homes. These reports indicated strong economic performance after a devastating hurricane season, astonishing skeptics.

     Still, NBC News failed to report on any of those three positive announcements.

     Nightly News Anchor Brian Williams covered none of the economic reports, but he spent considerable time on the November 28-30 broadcasts dealing with the struggle to revive the Gulf Coasts economy. On November 30, Williams said there's been precious little progress on the long road back.

     For all the attention paid New Orleans, including a November 29 interview with Mayor Ray Nagin, Williams left unmentioned a hopeful sign amid all the challenges in post-Katrina New Orleans: the now-sparsely-populated city has become a hot job market.

     It's capitalism at its best on the employees side, a November 28 Associated Press story quoted Jonathan Temple, a worker in the New Orleans Office of Economic Development.

     Meanwhile, CBS Anchor Bob Schieffer briefly relayed the economic growth numbers on November 30 and the housing numbers on November 29. On the November 30 World News Tonight, anchor Elizabeth Vargas also briefly touched on the economic growth numbers, calling them an encouraging sign that the economy is healthy and growing faster than expected.

     The evening newscasts are giving good economic news short mentions now, but the media played up worries of economic ruin in the days following Katrina, such as the loss of as many as 500,000 jobs, as Joel Havemann of the Los Angeles Times worried, or Edmund L. Andrews of the New York Times worrying Katrina portended substantially slower growth for at least the next several months.

     The Business & Media Institute has previously documented those and other failed predictions of economic slowdown or a spike in unemployment.