Perspective is everything.
If you read the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal Friday morning, you probably think the U.S. economy is growing at a sluggish pace, and that it missed President Trump's target.
If you read the New York Times and the Associated Press Friday morning, you’re probably walking around right now thinking the U.S. economy is doing well, and that it is growing at a healthy clip.
If you followed all four newsrooms Friday morning, you’re probably extremely confused.
To be clear, the U.S. economy grew at a 2.6 percent rate to end 2017, the Department of Commerce reported Friday.
This denies “President Trump a third straight quarter of 3 percent growth, at least for now,” the Washington Examiner’s Joseph Lawler wrote. “Forecasters had expected a 2.9 percent annual gross domestic product growth rate, adjusted for inflation. The final number could be revised up or down, though, as Friday's report is just the first of three estimates from the Bureau of Economic Analysis.”
Though this news seems straightforward enough, you’d be extremely confused from perusing news alerts from the nation’s top newsrooms.
The Times published an alert that read: “The U.S. economy showed continuing resilience in last year’s fourth quarter, growing at a 2.6 percent annual rate.”
The AP went with this: “US economy grew at a solid 2.6 percent rate in Q4, boosted by best consumer spending since 2016.”
The Post, on the other hand, went with an alert that read, “U.S. economic growth slowed in 2017’s fourth quarter, missing Trump’s targets.”
Here’s what the Wall Street Journal published: “U.S. economy grew at 2.6% rate in fourth quarter, losing a bit of momentum but extending one of its best stretches in years.”
Well, which one is it? Are we doing okay, or are we doing poorly? It’s like that line in that Dire Straits song: “Two men say they’re Jesus. One of them must be wrong.”
The headlines can all be factually true, but the tonal shift is giving me whiplash.
(h/t Sam Stein)