Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Today in framing

If a 3 percent change in quarterly GDP is a big deal at the Fair 'n' Balanced Network, just imagine what 4 percent might look like:

U.S. economic growth accelerated more than expected in the second quarter and the decline in output in the prior period was less steep than previously reported, bolstering views for a stronger performance in the last six months of the year.

Gross domestic product expanded at a 4.0 percent annual rate as activity picked up broadly after shrinking at a revised 2.1 percent pace in the first quarter, the Commerce Department said on Wednesday.

So given the play to the first-quarter revisions released last month, we should expect something like ... oh. (Right, that's the 12th bullet down there amid the "Latest News.")

Which is understandable. News-value-wise, "Sky Not Falling" isn't a patch on something like "Economy In Freefall?" I mean, you can't even use the scare quotes around "growth" in the landing-page blurb:

ANOTHER OBAMA ADMINISTRATION REVISION of America's economic 'growth' shows anything but, as new Commerce Department numbers show the economy actually shrinking at a more drastic pace than first reported, with gross domestic product falling nearly 3 percent -- not the 1 percent the administration reported last month, or the 'growth' the administration first reported in April.

Imagine. It's almost as if the Kenyan's shadowy paymasters had given him a schedule on which estimates and revisions of this "economic" "growth" nonsense should be released.

Economic statistics are a lot like public opinion data. The most prominent measures come out pretty systematically, they're based on well-established if imperfect sampling methods, and they're easy to mistake for predictions about the future, rather than descriptions of the past.As is broadly true of periodic data stories, what makes a story good is rarely sexy, and what makes a story sexy is rarely good.
When numbers stories are interesting, it should be because they're interesting on their own terms. Twelve straight months of identical polling on party identification would be a bizarre and fun bit of political science, but a really dull poll story. The news outlets you don't want to trust are the ones where the data have to fit the story line before they're news. At Fox, the value of an economy story comes from how bad it makes the usurper look. (Quick, see if you can remember the last time Drudge did his single-number thing with Rasmussen's tracking poll, which has had presidential approval in the mid- to upper 40s all year.)

That's not a reliable way of telling the right-wing press from the notional "liberal" press, but it's a fairly good way of telling the party press from the professionalized press.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home