Working from home on Friday, I head into the kitchen mid-morning to grab a cold beverage + snack. The small TV was left on, and I was captivated – and more than a little horrified – by the segment that was playing:
Special Report: Stagflation! Recession! Layoffs! Market Crash!
I don’t watch a lot of broadcast TV news –Bloomberg Surveillance in the AM, 60 Minutes, and CBS Sunday Morning — that’s pretty much it. This was genuinely shocking to me. It was a straight-up fear-mongering. The story unfolded without sort of framing or any sort of context:
Layoffs: were discussed, but there was no mention of the hiring boom of the past five years; that there are two job openings for each job seeker, or even how low the unemployment rate is.
Inflation: Comparisons to the 1970s were made, with lots of anecdotal examples. The Fed is behind the curve, inflation is out of control. And yet nothing was discussed about the shortage of semiconductors or the supply chain tangles or how a shortfall of single-family houses developed over the past decade.
Markets: The equity market fall was front and center with the emphasis on the most overvalued tech stocks that have fallen 60, 70, or even 80%. I did not hear the 18% fall in SPX mentioned, nor the fact that we are still 67% above 2020 pandemic lows and 17% above pre-pandemic highs.
Here is the thing: This wasn’t a political hit from a right-wing channel like Fox News, it was a mainstream channel.
The people who are critical of media but focus on a left vs right bias are missing the bigger picture. The concern regarding cable TV and mass media should be about where its biggest biases are: Not Left versus Right, but rather, Excitement versus Coolness, or maybe Hysteria versus Rationality.
What I see when channel surfing is mostly attention-grabbing bullshit. The vast majority of the 24/7 news cycle is filled with a lot of nonsense, too much vapidity with plenty of superficial filler.
As noted earlier this week, if this stuff upsets you, then change your media diet. Avoid Garbage in, garbage out…
Don’t Read This Blog Post (May 18, 2022)
More Signal, Less Noise (October 25, 2013)