October 15, 2011

MIA: AP Coverage of Dour Consumer Sentiment Report

Yesterday, Joe Weisenthal at Business Insider reacted to the mixed economic news of the day by observing: “Lots of folks are scratching their head about today’s dismal UMich/Reuters consumer sentiment number coming in so ugly, just as retail sales for September came in so strong.”

It seems that the folks at the Associated Press were not among the head-scratchers. From all appearances, the self-described Essential Global News Network, whose acronym might as well stand for “The Administration’s Press,” didn’t cover the consumer sentiment story at all. What follows are several paragraphs from Alex Kowalski at Bloomberg News describing just how ugly it was, complete with the “U-word” we’ve all come to know and laugh at (bolds are mine throughout this post):

U.S. Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index Unexpectedly Falls

Confidence among U.S. consumers unexpectedly dropped in October as Americans’ outlooks for the economy and their finances slumped to the lowest level since 1980.

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary index of consumer sentiment decreased to 57.5 this month from 59.4 in September. The median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News called for a reading of 60.2. The gauge of consumer expectations for six months from now, which more closely projects the direction of consumer spending, dropped to 47, the lowest since May 1980.

Consumers may be questioning the recovery’s durability as incomes stagnate, home prices fall and policy makers debate ways to strengthen the recovery. Faster job growth may hold the key to bigger gains in consumer spending that accounts for about 70 percent of the economy.

… The difference between the median projection and the actual figure was the biggest in percentage terms since November 2010.

Searches on “Michigan consumer” and “Thomson consumer” (not in quotes) at the AP’s main site return nothing relevant and nothing at all, respectively.

A different search: A Google News search for the last 24 hours on [consumer thomson "associated Press"] (input exactly as indicated between brackets, sorted by date) returns only one item. Again, there is no evidence that AP covered the consumer sentiment story.

In a brief cruise through the Google News archive, I was able to find that the wire service mentioned the Thomson/U of M survey in July, October 2010, and September 2010.

About two hours after the consumer sentiment news was released, AP Business Writer David McHugh did find time to write up the relatively good news about retail sales:

Stocks pushed higher Friday as better than expected U.S. retail sales data and positive corporate news overshadowed fears from Europe’s debt crisis.

U.S. retail sales for September rose 1.1 percent, ahead of 0.7 percent market expectations. That indicated to some that the world’s largest economy might not be in as much trouble as feared earlier.

The consumer sentiment news says otherwise. It’s hard not to conclude that McHugh and his employer didn’t want to pass on anything that might dilute the positive retail news.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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