The Media's Top 10 Economic Myths of 2008 (No.2)

Yet negativity abounded in 2008, outnumbering positive stories 6 to 1 according to BMI's recent study The Great Media Depression.

CNBC's "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer went further than most journalists actually warning that the country was in danger of "Great Depression, No. 2." On "Street Signs" Sept. 11 Cramer excitedly warned that unless the banking system was bailed out, a second Depression could be in the future.

 "It's obvious the bank system is falling apart," Cramer said. "Let's save it before it goes to zero." Two months later on Nov. 11, Cramer again cried for a bailout -- this time for General Motors.

Cramer responded to criticism saying, "I don't care– for the same reason that AIG was in the business of a criminal conspiracy – big deal," Cramer said. "It's like look – we got to bail them out. We have to. We have to keep the Great Depression off the table."

Ironically in December, Cramer chastised people using Great Depression warnings calling them "scare tactics."


2. Welcome to 1929: Great Depression II

Media myth: The news media drew hundreds of parallels to the Depression, despite economic data that is not even close.

Originally published by the Business & Media Institute

According to network reports, America's finances are "like a house of cards." The media thought things were so bad that journalists on ABC, CBS and NBC hyped similarities to the Great Depression more than 70 times in the first six months of 2008. An additional tally found at least 157 more comparisons from July 1, 2008 to Oct. 27, 2008.

But that parallel doesn't hold up, particularly when looking at daily coverage of the stock market crash in 1929. The difference between how the 1929 and 2008 media handled a crisis was profound – with modern journalists hyping every event and their predecessors expressing calm optimism. A scholar of the Depression, Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke said Dec. 1 that there is "no comparison" between the two situations.

In actuality, the economic struggles of 2008 couldn't really compare to the Depression. At its peak, unemployment skyrocketed to more than 24 percent. Gross domestic product actually dropped four straight years – 1930-1933 – and took until 1941 to again pass 1929 levels. "It was the worst slump in history, and the most protracted," wrote Paul Johnson in the introduction to Murray Rothbard's book "America's Great Depression." "At one point 34 million men, women, and children were without any income at all," Johnson continued. [Click 'read more' to continue]