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Reston-Broder Syndrome Claims Victim

From the Scrapbook.

Jul 23, 2012, Vol. 17, No. 42 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
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During the Reagan administration, at a time of undeniable and often rapid economic growth, conservatives began to notice an unusual phenomenon. No matter how good the economy appeared to be, the media would fall all over themselves to explain that, no, things were actually horrible, homelessness was epidemic, poverty rampant—proof of the callous failure of Reaganomics.

Not surprisingly, we are experiencing the opposite effect now that Barack Obama is president. Sure, the economy’s moribund and the president’s spectacularly bad policies have contributed to immiserating the lives of millions of the unemployed and underemployed—but the New York Times is here to explain that it’s really not that bad. “In Latest Data on Economy, Experts See Signs of Pickup,” ran one headline on July 13. We started reading, hoping to find out how we had missed the news that happy days are here again. Well, not so fast. The article is a case study on how journalists go about applying lipstick to a pig. The Scrapbook is selectively quoting here, but we’re fairly representing the essence of the Times piece: 

This week, Macroeconomic Advisers, an economic consultancy often cited by policy makers, estimated the annual rate of growth in the second quarter at just 1.2 percent—well below the pace needed to reduce the unemployment rate. .  .  . “The pace of economic growth is picking up, but not to a rate that is very robust.” .  .  .  Some of the recent headwinds—like a re-escalation of the euro zone crisis, households that are paying down their debt, and a falloff in growth in big emerging markets, like China and Brazil—remain. .  .  . “The soft patch could easily extend through year-end or almost a full year.” .  .  . The weaker-than-expected spring data has raised speculation that the Federal Reserve might announce a new round of bond buying this summer to spur growth. .  .  . Mr. Prakken said the initial unemployment claims “suggest that the labor market has not fallen out of bed.” He added, “There’s been a pause in hiring, a momentary pause in hiring.”

To be fair, the article does note a few minor reasons for optimism, such as lower oil prices and better auto sales. However, even the most optimistic projections in the article—such as Macroeconomic Advisers’ forecast that GDP growth will double from a horrendous 1.2 percent to a dismal 2.4 percent—aren’t exactly reasons to pop the champagne corks. You might think the tone of a headline should reflect what a story actually reports. But so long as Barack Obama is up for reelection, the New York Times is happy to make an in-kind donation to his campaign.

Sentences We Didn’t Finish

‘It was perhaps fitting that Representative Barney Frank met his future husband, Jim Ready, at a political fund-raiser in 2005. ‘I told him I had a crush on him for 20 years,’ said Mr. Ready, recalling that as a teenager .  .  . ” (New York Times, July 7).

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