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April 19, 2011


Chuck Todd and the NBC crew are repeat offenders here; they pulled the same thing with the oil spill:


First Read from NBC News wrote:

A new Washington Post/ABC poll -- which shows President Obama’s approval down to 47%, and with 44% believing the U.S. economy is getting worse (when employment is actually on the rise) -- suggests that the climbing gas prices have soured the public’s mood, big time.

Earth to First Read: Gas prices are an aspect of the economy. Year on year inflation as of the end of March was 2.7%, which is more than 2010's figure of just over 1% Furthermore, for the last 4 months, Nov. 30, 2010 - March 31, 2011, the average annual inflation rate was nearly 6% -- primarily due to increases in the price of food and gasoline. In addition, the deficit is at at a historically enormous level and is the actions of Congress and the President seem to indecate that no cure is in sight.

In other words, First Read's parenthetical phrase seemed designed to imply that the economy isn't really getting worse, so the change in perception was a reaction to the President's speech. However, especially for families who spend a large fraction of their income on food and fuel, the economy is indeed getting worse. So, the change in the poll results may simply be an accurate perception of how the economy is changing.

I noticed last week that James Surowiecki in The New Yorker took pains to explain that people are over-reacting to the higher gas prices. That's something of a departure for Surowiecki, since previously he was writing about "how damaging skyrocketing oil prices can be." But it also is consistent with the media spin on higher gas prices, which during Bush's presidency were treated very differently. Quelle surprise.

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