Networks rely on S&P experts despite criticizing ratings agency
Network reporters have been critical of Standard & Poor’s in the aftermath of the firm’s downgrade of the U.S. credit rating, reports Julia Seymour of the Business & Media Institute, despite the fact that they counted heavily on S&P experts when covering other stories.
Seymour writes, “The three broadcast networks responded to the downgrade by trying to downplay Standard & Poor’s decision to lower the nation’s rating by criticizing them for past mistakes, especially their failure to anticipate the housing bubble and crash.
“Yet that criticism also revealed hypocrisy on the part of the network news media which have interviewed S&P experts for years. More than 60 percent (14 out of 23) stories critical of S&P were since April 2011 when the ratings agency downgraded their outlook for long-term U.S. debt to negative.
“But in the six years between August 2005 when the housing market was in decline and August 2011, the networks interviewed experts from S&P in 70 stories about a range of topics including housing, retail sales, the possibility of recession and other economic issues. That’s more than 3 times as many stories as were critical of the company during the six years since the housing drop.
“CBS was by far the most reliant of the three networks on S&P analysts for economic predictions and information with 53 of those interviews on their morning and evening news programs. CBS criticized S&P one-tenth that often (5 stories).”
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