‘Reporters, like generals, tend to fight the last war' — Here’s how the media are ‘overcorrecting’ in response to past mistakes: report

‘Reporters, like generals, tend to fight the last war' — Here’s how the media are ‘overcorrecting’ in response to past mistakes: report

Even some of the smartest, most hard-working journalists will occasionally drop the ball: pundits who were confident that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton would defeat Donald Trump in 2016 (even though many polls showed a close election), financial reporters who didn’t see the financial crash of September 2008 coming. Dan Primack and Mike Allen discuss those two examples in a report for Axios, but rather than beating up the media for occasionally dropping the ball or missing the mark in the past, they assert that too many journalists are “overcorrecting” — and hurting themselves in the process.

Because “most business reporters didn’t see the Great Recession of 2008 coming,” Primack and Allen stress,” too many financial reporters are “overcorrecting” in 2019 by fearing that they will miss “the world’s biggest story again” if they fail to predict the next recession.

“There are legitimate reasons to expect a recession, including economic slowdowns elsewhere, that pesky yield curve and the law of gravity,” Primack and Allen explain. “But there are just as many reasons to let the good times roll a while longer.”

Certainly, another recession will hit the U.S. sooner or later; it’s not a matter of if, but a matter of when. However, Primack and Allen emphasize that business reporters should be open to the possibility that a recession isn’t necessarily right around the corner — and that it might come later rather than sooner.

“Reporters aren’t talking about a looming recession in order to cost Trump his job, as he claimed via tweet,” Primack and Allen observe. “They’re talking about it to protect their own.”

Primack and Allen go to on to emphasize that while political journalists should certainly explore the possibility of President Trump being reelected, they shouldn’t underreport Trump’s bad poll numbers either.

“There are legitimate reasons to believe Trump will be re-elected, including his base’s unshakable devotion,” Primack and Allen note. “But in the pre-Trump era, any incumbent with his current math would be treated like a dead man walking.”

Primack and Allen point to Trump having only 41% approval in a recent Gallup tracking poll and a Quinnipiac University poll showing that in hypothetical matchups, Trump would lose to former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren or Sen. Bernie Sanders by double digits. If “any president besides Trump” had those type of poll numbers, according to Primack and Allen, the media would not “overcorrect” by underreporting that information.

The “bottom line,” Primack and Allen assert, is that “reporters, like generals, tend to fight the last war.”

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