Right Wingers Try to Blame the Media for Economic Insecurity

Yesterday on NBC's Meet the Press, host Tim Russert pointed to a new CNBC poll showing that 83 percent of the American public rates the U.S. economy as only fair/poor. Right-wing strategist Mary Matalin tried to brush off that number, stating that most Americans are nevertheless happy about their personal finances.

When liberal strategist Bob Shrum pointed out that her statement is false, Matalin switched to the well-worn tactic of blaming the media for the problem:

MATALIN: Well, there's an element of cognitive dissonance there, because if you ask them how their own personal finances are going, those numbers completely switch. Yes -- he's looking around. Those numbers are completely true. They absolutely switch on their own personal finances.
SHRUM: I think most people are getting very insecure about their personal finances.
MATALIN: That's because they're berated with these numbers.
Matalin is echoing a popular right-wing talking point. On Feb. 11, former White House adviser Karl Rove claimed that the "media has been beating the drum for years and years and years that the economy stinks. And after a while, that begins to color people's attitudes." Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) also recently tried to blame it all on the American people by saying that it's just "psychological."

Matalin's baseless assertion was quickly rebutted by her husband, Democratic strategist James Carville:
This is not something created by the media. These mortgages, these high energy costs, these pathetic employment numbers, the health care costs, food costs -- they're just killing people out there. They're not just being told that things are terrible. They're feeling this every day.
As Shrum pointed out, most Americans are insecure about their own finances. A recent Pew poll found that 53 percent rate their personal finances as only fair/poor, up from 49 percent in January. Additionally, 58 percent believe that their personal income is "falling behind" compared to their cost of living, up from 44 percent in January.

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