Following months of media calls for deficit reduction, cable news channels spent just over 7 minutes reporting on a revised Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projection that the 2013 deficit will decline by more than previous estimates. Broadcast network news evening shows did not cover the new report.
CBO Announces New Report: Deficit Projections Lower For 2013
CBO: "The Budget Deficit Will Shrink This Year To $642 Billion." According to the Congressional Budget Office's most recent analysis, assuming current law remains unchanged, "the budget deficit will shrink this year to $642 billion ... the smallest shortfall since 2008":
If the current laws that govern federal taxes and spending do not change, the budget deficit will shrink this year to $642 billion, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates, the smallest shortfall since 2008. Relative to the size of the economy, the deficit this year--at 4.0 percent of gross domestic product (GDP)--will be less than half as large as the shortfall in 2009, which was 10.1 percent of GDP. Because revenues, under current law, are projected to rise more rapidly than spending in the next two years, deficits in CBO's baseline projections continue to shrink, falling to 2.1 percent of GDP by 2015. [Congressional Budget Office, May 2013]
Wonkblog: CBO Has "Cut Their Prediction For 2013 Deficits By More Than $200 Billion." At The Washington Post's Wonkblog, Ezra Klein explained that the new CBO report cuts previous predictions of the 2013 deficit by more than $200 billion:
Washington's most powerful budget nerds have cut their prediction for 2013 deficits by more than $200 billion. They've cut their projections for our deficits over the next decade by more than $600 billion. Add it all up and our 10-year deficits are looking downright manageable. [The Washington Post, Wonkblog, 5/14/13]
Media Largely Ignores CBO's Lowered Deficit Projection
Network And Cable News Largely Ignore CBO's Revised Projection Of Lower Deficits. According to a Media Matters analysis, the May 15 ABC, CBS, and NBC evening news programs did not cover the CBO's announcement that deficits are projected to shrink more than previously estimated. On cable news, CNN devoted less than one minute to the announcement, while Fox News devoted 1 minute 44 seconds of coverage. MSNBC covered the announcement the most, with 4 minutes and 53 seconds of coverage.
Previously, Media Focused On Deficit Reduction More Than Other Economic Issues
In April News Coverage, Calls For Deficit Reduction Beat Out Mentions Of Other Economic Issues. A Media Matters analysis of economic news coverage in the month of April found that media continued their long-established focus on deficit reduction. In 45 of 123 total segments discussing policy impacts on the economy, guests or hosts on network and cable news advocated for deficit reduction as a priority. Calls for deficit reduction beat out mentions of other economic issues, most notably the need for economic growth and job creation, and economic inequality.
[Media Matters for America, 5/14/13]
In April Economic Coverage, Calls For Deficit Reduction Made Up Significant Portion Of Economic Coverage. A Media Matters analysis of economic news coverage in the month of April found that with the exception of CBS News, cable and network news organizations all devoted a significant amount of coverage to calls for deficit reduction. ABC News devoted the most, with a vast majority of their economic coverage focusing on deficit reduction.
Falling Deficits Absent From Segments Calling For Deficit Reduction. While 45 segments on the economy in April discussed the need for deficit reduction, only four total segments mentioned previous CBO estimates that deficits are projected to fall in coming years.
[Media Matters for America, 5/14/13]
For the mentions of the May 2013 CBO report on revised deficit projections, Media Matters reviewed closed captioning transcripts and internal video archives for May 15, 2013, from 6 a.m. to midnight for MSNBC, CNN, and Fox News, and the evening news broadcasts of NBC, CBS, and ABC News. We identified and reviewed all mentions of the word "deficit," and included any discussion of the CBO report.
For the review of deficit reduction as a percentage of total economic coverage, Media Matters conducted a Nexis search of transcripts of evening (defined as 5 p.m. through 11 p.m.) programs on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and network broadcast news from April 1 through April 30. We identified and reviewed all segments that included any of the following keywords: econom!, jobs, growth, debt, and deficit. When transcripts were incomplete, we reviewed video.
The following programs were included in the data: World News with Diane Sawyer, This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Evening News (CBS), Face the Nation, Nightly News with Brian Williams, Meet the Press with David Gregory, Fox News Sunday, The Situation Room, Erin Burnett OutFront, Anderson Cooper 360, Piers Morgan Live, The Five, Special Report with Bret Baier, The O'Reilly Factor, Hannity, On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, Hardball with Chris Matthews, Politics Nation with Al Sharpton, All In with Chris Hayes, The Rachel Maddow Show, and The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell. For shows that air re-runs (such as Anderson Cooper 360 and Hardball with Chris Matthews), only the first airing was included in data retrieval.
Media Matters only included segments that had substantial discussion of policy implications on the macroeconomy. We did not include teasers or clips of news events, and re-broadcasts of news packages that were already counted on their initial broadcast in the 5p.m.-11p.m. window.
We define segments that call for deficit reduction as a priority as those where either the host or guest mentions deficit and debt reduction as a pressing need.