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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Associated Press' Word Play

The Associated Press has an article this morning and if you read the headline you would think that Fed Chief Ben Bernanke has given Obama's stimulus a ringing endorsement. The headline says, Bernanke: Obama stimulus would lift economy. That's rather unambiguous. So, I was surprised to read the article. Here are the relevant parts.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Tuesday the stimulus package being crafted by President-elect Barack Obama and Congress could provide a "significanyt boost" to the sinking economy. But he warned that such a recovery won't last unless other steps are taken to stabilize the shaky financial system


The incoming administration and the Congress are currently discussing a substantial fiscal package that, if enacted, could provide a significant boost to economic activity," Bernanke said in a speech to the London School of Economics.

"In my view, however, fiscal actions are unlikely to promote a lasting recovery unless they are accompanied by strong measures to further stabilize and strengthen the financial system," he warned. "History demonstrates conclusively that a modern economy cannot grow if its financial system is not operating effectively."

Could Obama's stimulus lift the economy? Of course, it could. So, could doing nothing. So, could cutting taxes. A lot of things could work. Whenever a hypothetical is discussed the possibilities are endless. Of course, there is a massive difference between when someone says a plan could work and when someone says a plan will work. Bernanke clearly said the stimulus could work. As head of the Fed, Bernanke knows full well to choose his words very carefully as they carry weight. He didn't use the word "could" by accident. He wanted to be clear about how he viewed the plan, which was cautious optimism. Instead, the title of the article indictated that Bernanke said the plan WILL work.

Worse yet, buried deeper are Bernanke's thoughts that he believes much more is needed beyond the stimulus. So, not only does Bernanke not guarantee that the stimulus will work, but frankly, Bernanke states unambiguously that he believes a lot more beyond the stimulus is necessary. Yet, what is in the article and what is in the headline appear to be two totally different things. This is the sort of subtle bias that the MSM has unfortunately become all too willing to engage in.

Now, frankly, I for one don't believe an endorsement from Bernanke carries much weight anyway. His policies since his inception have in my opinion perpetuated the problem. That said, it's clear that this misleading title is meant to sway the layman. They layman usually doesn't read the article. Rather, they see the headline. Since AP is filtered to hundreds of newspapers, millions of people will see the headline that Bernanke says that Obama's stimulus WILL work. Now, if you oppose Obama's stimulus, you are opposing the Fed Chairman. This is only the beginning and you can expect the MSM to only get worse.

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