Bernanke Calls for Government Spending and Much of the Press Ignores It (Again)

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke called for more fiscal stimulus yesterday in his most direct plea yet for the government to boost the stagnant economic recovery.

Here’s what Bernanke said:

“We have taken a lot of actions,” Mr. Bernanke said at a news conference after the announcement. He added that Congress, by contrast, was not doing enough to pull the levers of fiscal policy. Lawmakers are gridlocked over a new jobs proposal from the White House, and a special bipartisan committee charged with reducing the deficit is struggling to reach agreement by Thanksgiving.

“I think it would be helpful if we could get assistance from other parts of the government to help create more jobs,” Mr. Bernanke said.

That’s the third and fourth paragraphs of the top story in The New York Times today. That’s appropriate placement for this news, something that stands out compared to how most of its peers covered it.

The Washington Post does fine, reporting the Bernanke quote in the ninth paragraph of its A1 story:

Government policy more broadly appears to be on hold, with few prospects for a deeply divided Congress to take steps that would encourage job creation. Bernanke signaled his consternation with this inaction, saying, “It would be helpful if we could get assistance from some other parts of the government to work with us to help create more jobs.”

But The Wall Street Journal decides not to report Bernanke’s call for government spending at all in its story “Fed Lowers Its Jobs Forecast”. The paper doesn’t quote him, paraphrase him, or in any way hint that he called for it.

Neither does the Financial Times.

Nor Bloomberg News. Reuters’s story ignored it, although the wire ran a sidebar of excerpts that included the stimulus quote.

This isn’t the first time I’ve noticed much of the press all but ignoring Republican, Bush-appointed Bernanke’s call for government spending. What gives?

You have to wonder what kind of play Bernanke Calls For Austerity would have gotten.

Financial reporters generally hang on every word the Fed chairman utters, so it stands out when they repeatedly ignore or bury his calls for spending from the government. There’s really no excuse.

Further Reading:

All But Ignoring the Fed’s Call for More Stimulus. Deficit-obsessed newspapers stuff Bernanke’s plea for near-term spending or tax cuts

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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum. Tags: , , , ,