Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? (Yet Another Washington Post Edition)
U.C. Berkeley Journalism Dean Search

Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? (New York Times Edition)

Surely the New York Times can find and afford to hire smarter economics reporters than this? Eduardo Porter exhibiting confusion between nominal and real stock prices, looking only at recent changes rather than levels of oil prices, focusing on unemployment rather than other labor market indicators--and that's just paragraph one. Plus as a bonus the first two people quoted are those noted political economists George W. Bush and Frank Luntz. And Eduardo Porter buries the real lead of his story in... paragraph 30:

This Time, It's Not the Economy - New York Times: By EDUARDO PORTER: In many ways, the economy has not looked so good in a long time. The price of gas at the pump has tumbled since midsummer. Unemployment has fallen to its lowest level in more than five years. On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average has finally returned to its glory days of the late 1990's, setting records almost daily.

President Bush, in hopes of winning credit for his party's stewardship of the economy, is spending two days this week campaigning on the theme that the economy is purring. "No question that a strong economy is going to help our candidates," Mr. Bush said in a CNBC interview yesterday, "Primarily because they have got something to run on, they can say our economy's good because I voted for tax relief."

But Republican candidates do not seem to be getting any traction from the glowing economic statistics with midterm elections just two weeks away.

The economy is virtually nowhere to be found among the campaign ads of embattled Republican incumbents fighting to hold onto their House or Senate seats. Nor is it showing up as a strong weapon in the arsenal of Republican governors defending their jobs from Democrats.

"I don't know of another election cycle in which the economy was so good, yet the election prospects for the incumbent party looked so bad," said Frank Luntz, a Republican strategist. "If something goes wrong, Republicans are to blame. If something goes right, Republicans don't get credit"...

Matthew Yglesias is astounded:

Matthew Yglesias / proudly eponymous since 2002: "The Economy" Versus Your Money: An astoundingly blinkered New York Times article on why Republican candidates aren't getting more of a boost from "glowing economic statistics" takes an astounding thirty paragraphs (admittedly, many of them short) to consider the possibility that "Rather than celebrate the stock market's gains and the overall growth of the economy, many voters are worried about the wages of ordinary workers, which have just started to improve after several years of falling short or barely keeping up with inflation."

Yes, yes, shocking but true -- typical people's perceptions of the economy are driven more by the well-being of typical people than on aggregate macroeconomic indicators. Who'd a thunk it?