March 30, 2012

Heads It Rose, Tails It’s Rosy: Up or Down, Press Treated This Month’s Consumer Sentiment Reports Positively

APbloombergReuters2012On Tuesday (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted how the Associated Press’s headlined assessments at Anne D’Innocenzio’s reports throughout the day on the Conference Board’s monthly consumer confidence survey went from “falls” to “dips slightly” to “roughly flat” before ending up at “rosy” — an evaluation the AP reporter also included in the verbiage of her final dispatch. For the record, the confidence measurement fell to 70.2 in March from 71.6 in February. Bloomberg’s final report for the day also obfuscated, with a headline of “Consumer Confidence in U.S. Holds Close to One-Year High” and an opening sentence which read: “Confidence among U.S. consumers in March held close to the highest level in a year, underpinned by an improving labor market” — anything to keep any indication of drop out of what most people would see. Along the same lines, Rush Limbaugh also picked on Reuters Tuesday for saying that confidence only “eased.”

The University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Survey came out today. The press release’s opening sentence: “Consumer confidence edged upward as more favorable income and job trends offset rising gas prices.” Its value (with a different scale) went from 75.3 to 76.2. That’s also “roughly” flat, isn’t it? Don’t be silly. All three wires said that an increase smaller than Tuesday’s Conference Board decrease was an  unqualified “rise.”

At the AP, Martin Crutsinger, in a longer report which primarily covered consumer spending, wrote that “The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Survey index rose this month to 76.2 – its highest level since February 2011.” That happens to be just before last year’s round of sharp gas prices started hitting the country.

At Bloomberg, Lorraine Woellert wrote that “Confidence among U.S. consumers unexpectedly rose in March for a seventh straight month as Americans grew more upbeat about the economy.”

At Reuters, Richard Leong opened as follows: “Consumer confidence rebounded to its highest level in 13 months at the end of March as optimism about jobs and income overcame higher prices at the gasoline pump, according to a survey released on Friday.”


  • When consumer sentiment went up, it was reported (properly) as rising.
  • But when consumer confidence went down, it was “rosy,” “close to a one-year high,” or merely “eased.”

Heads, it’s good news. Tails, it’s good news. Team Obama won’t ever look bad as long as these guys are the refs.

Amazing — and, as NewsBusters commenter “Phryj1″ observed on Tuesday, “Orwellian.”

Cross-posted at


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