Corporate Cousins

A walk down memory lane with the Murdoch media

Daniel Gross brings up the fact that it’s been two years since Michael Boskin’s editorial in The Wall Street Journal claimed “Obama’s Radicalism Is Killing the Dow,” and that since that piece ran, stocks have soared.

But Boskin was hardly alone. So it’s worth revisiting how frequently that same line ran in Rupert Murdoch’s media outlets over a two-week span in February and March 2009. Here are a few of the choicest hits.

Wall Street Journal columnist Evan Newmark wrote this column on February 23:

Obama’s Dow 5000

Four days later, Fox News’s Sean Hannity had this to say to lead off a segment:

HANNITY: Yesterday, the U.S. increased its stake in Citigroup, taking us one step closer to nationalizing our banks. So, how did stocks respond today? Guess…

And tonight, in “Your America,” President Obama has taken the next step in converting the United States into a socialist republic. Now it looks like he wants to nationalize the banks. Now, the administration announced this morning that the federal government will work its magic on Citigroup, but Citigroup shareholders don’t seem too grateful. Its stock closed at $2.46 last night and it opened this morning at $1.56, now that’s a 37 percent decline.

Corporate cousin Greta Van Susteren of Fox News picked it up on March 2, bringing on Wall Street Journal editorial board member Stephen Moore to talk about the various reasons Obama was to blame for the economy and stock market’s woes.

The next day, Van Susteren brought on yet another corporate cousin, Jim McTague, bureau chief of Barron’s (all of these TV transcripts are quoted from News Corporation corporate cousin Factiva, by the way). Here was the top of that segment:

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, check this out. That is the Dow diving in the months since President Obama has taken office. The Wall Street Journal shows the Dow has gone down 25 percent in the last two months. What’s going on? Are President Obama’s policies driving stocks down?

Joining us live is Jim McTague, Barron’s Washington bureau chief. Jim, why has it gone down 25 percent? Is it fair to point at the direction of the president’s policies?

JIM MCTAGUE, BARRON’S: Oh, sure, it’s fair. He’s scared the market

The same day, The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page dropped this editorial:

The Obama Economy; As the Dow keeps dropping, the President is running out of people to blame.

So six weeks into his presidency, the Journal said Obama owned the economic crisis created under eight years of Bush. Check out the manipulation in the lede:

As 2009 opened, three weeks before Barack Obama took office, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 9034 on January 2, its highest level since the autumn panic. Yesterday the Dow fell another 4.24% to 6763, for an overall decline of 25% in two months and to its lowest level since 1997. The dismaying message here is that President Obama’s policies have become part of the economy’s problem.

The WSJ started counting three weeks before he took office. Conveniently enough, the Dow was at 9034 the day the Journal arbitrarily picked to make its percentage look worse. The day Obama was actually inaugurated the market opened at 8279. One wonders why the Journal didn’t have the nerve to go all the way back to September when the Dow was at 11,500 or back to October 2007 when it was above 14,000 to blame the decline on Obama (corporate cousin New York Post columnist Charlie Gasparino—then of CNBC and now of corporate cousin Fox Business, had the nerve to blame Obama two weeks before the election).

The Journal’s Newmark did it, too, writing this the next day (emphasis mine):

The day of the election, the Dow was driven to more than 9600. Today, post-release of the Obama budget, it is at 6800, down 30%.

The more investors have learned about the state of the economy and Obama’s plans for it, the less they rate the stock market’s prospects.

Obama’s higher taxes and antibusiness policies have shaken investor confidence.

A day earlier, Fox New’s Hannity bested them all, actually saying this in a conversation with Newt Gingrich (emphasis mine):

Welcome to the age of Obama. Now if we go back to May 6th when it was apparent that he was going to probably be the Democratic nominee the stock market was over 13000, and if we go to October just before the election, the polls show that he had a pretty commanding lead over John McCain, the stock market was, what, around the 11000 plus mark.

Now that’s hacktacular!

On March 3, Hannity brought on Alexis Glick of corporate cousin Fox Business Network:

BABB: Hope and change.



GLICK: And every day, I have to admit it, it gets worse and worse. I mean when you talk about some of the things that we’re looking at, cap and trade right now on green gas emissions, what that’s going to do to almost all industries out there. What it’s going to do to your utility bills. When you look at what’s happened with education, student loans, Sallie Mae.

I mean.

HANNITY: Well said.

GLICK: Every single day unfortunately he’s doing something to corporate America that’s making them more and more angry.

Three days later, on March 6, Hoover Institution fellow Michael J. Boskin wrote his famous column. Guess where? The WSJ op-ed page:

Obama’s Radicalism Is Killing the Dow; A financial crisis is the worst time to change the foundations of American capitalism.

Now the Dow is up 48 percent since Obama’s inauguration and 27 percent since his election. It’s even up 6 percent from the month before the crash in September 2008. But it’s all crickets from the Murdoch organs.

What’s the lesson here? For one, it’s just worth noting how this message cycled through Murdoch’s outlets.

For another, be very skeptical of journalists you see crediting or blaming politicians for the stock market’s short-term movements. They’re almost surely hacks. There are trillions of factors that go into what the market does and noone can really know why it moves.

An amusing thing to recall, and few do, is that Obama the Commie proved to be a better market analyst than all these folks. On March 3, the president told Americans it was a good time to buy stocks:

“What you’re now seeing is profit and earning ratios are starting to get to the point where buying stocks is a potentially good deal, if you’ve got a long-term perspective on it.”

A day later, here’s Fox News’s Glenn Beck:

BECK: All right. Now, yesterday, Obama said it might be a good time to get in the market. What? If you’re crazy!

If we take stock advice from the president — this is what I want to know — is it possible to get a bailout later if he was wrong?…

Yesterday President Obama said now might be a good time to buy some stocks, because there’s some good deals out there for long-term investors, like, for instance, if you’re 12…

Hey, Penn, did you see the interview with the communist a few minutes ago?

You’d be sitting on a lot of capital if you’d followed that communist’s advice.

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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: , , ,