Michael Barone

Unexpectedly!

As megablogger Glenn Reynolds, aka Instapundit, has noted with amusement, the word "unexpectedly" or variants thereon keep cropping up in mainstream media stories about the economy.

"New U.S. claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly climbed," reported cnbc.com May 25.

"Personal consumption fell," Business Insider reported the same day, "when it was expected to rise."

"Durable goods declined 3.6 percent last month," Reuters reported May 25, "worse than economists' expectations."

"Previously owned home sales unexpectedly fall," headlined Bloomberg News May 19.

"U.S. home construction fell unexpectedly in April," wrote The Wall Street Journal May 18.

Those examples are all from the last two weeks. Reynolds has been linking to similar items since October 2009.

Mainstream media may finally be catching up. "The latest economic numbers have not been good," David Leonhardt wrote in the May 26 New York Times. "Another report showed that economic growth at the start of the year was no faster than the Commerce Department initially reported -- 'a real surprise,' said Ian Shepherdson of High Frequency Economics."

Which raises some questions. As Instapundit reader Gordon Stewart, quoted by Reynolds on May 17, put it: "How many times in a row can something happen unexpectedly before the experts start to, you know, expect it? At some point, shouldn't they be required to state the foundation for their expectations?"

One answer is that many in the mainstream media have been cheerleading for Barack Obama. They and he both naturally hope for a strong economic recovery. After all, Obama can't keep blaming the economic doldrums on George W. Bush forever.

I'm confident that any comparison of economic coverage in the Bush years and the coverage now would show far fewer variants of the word "unexpectedly" in stories suggesting economic doldrums.


Michael Barone

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2011 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM