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Thursday, April 2, 2009

Support for Obama Remains Strong Despite Negative Coverage from Some Pundits, Media Watchdog Group Says

WASHINGTON - April 1 - Watchdog group Media Matters for America released a comment today in response to a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll showing that only 26 percent of the public blames the Obama administration for the country's economic situation:

"This poll shows that despite what they are hearing from the media, the public overwhelmingly blames banks, business, and the Bush administration, not President Obama," said Erikka Knuti, a spokeswoman for Media Matters. "The media have repeatedly attached Obama's name to the economic crisis and all but erased the role of the previous administration from their coverage. The American people aren't falling for it."

The Washington Post/ABC News poll, released on March 31, asked respondents who they thought "deserve[d]" the most "blame" for "the country's economic situation." Results for who deserved a "great deal" or "good amount" of blame are as follows:

-80 percent said banks and other financial institutions
-80 percent said large business corporations
-72 percent said consumers
-70 percent said the Bush administration
-26 percent said the Obama administration

In their news release, the watchdog group also cites their documentation of how media figures, in their reporting of economic issues, have blamed Obama for the economic recession by disappearing the Bush administration's role and repeatedly referring to the "Obama recession."

Specifically, according to Media Matters, beginning in early November 2008, conservative media figures such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Dick Morris, and Hugh Hewitt have asserted that Obama is to blame for the decline of the stock market since the election and have promoted the myth of an "Obama recession," in spite of the finding from the National Bureau of Economic Research that the recession began in December 2007.

Media Matters also claims to have documented numerous media outlets declaring the existence of an "Obama bear market," and charges MSNBC with using, in numerous reports, misleading charts to suggest that the Dow only began dropping after Obama's election or inauguration, despite the fact that the Dow was on a downward trajectory months before the election, dropping 3,738 points from May 2, 2008, to November 3, 2008.

The watchdog group cites the phrase "Obama bear market" as just one example of a pattern of the media allegedly leaving out relevant information about the role of Bush-era policies in discussing the current state of the economy. According to Media Matters, among the examples is a March 8 Associated Press analysis, in which Tom Raum suggested that Obama is to blame for job losses since he took office and even before he did so -- an argument the watchdog group asserts has been rejected even by conservative CNBC host and National Review Online economics editor Larry Kudlow.

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