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How CNBC And Fox News Misinformed Viewers About The Dangers Of The Debt Ceiling

By Pat Garofalo  

"How CNBC And Fox News Misinformed Viewers About The Dangers Of The Debt Ceiling"

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House Republicans recently agreed to raise the debt ceiling, preventing a self-inflicted economic calamity. Experts agree that failure to raise the debt ceiling would have catastrophic consequences for the U.S. economy. The debt ceiling debacle of 2010, during which the U.S. did not actually breach the debt limit and default, will wind up costing U.S. taxpayers $18.9 billion and one million jobs.

But television watchers going to CNBC, Fox News, or Fox Business for their news may not know just how dangerous a weaponized debt ceiling really is. As Media Matters’ Alan Pyke showed, those networks were very likely to discuss the debt ceiling without noting the negative effects that breaching it might have:

Only 100 segments out of 273 mentioned the negative economic effects of failing to raise — or threat of failing to raise — the debt ceiling. MSNBC most frequently mentioned negative effects in 41 of 68 segments (60 percent), while CNN mentioned them in 13 of 23 segments (57 percent). The remaining networks lagged far behind, with CNBC, Fox Business, and Fox News mentioning macroeconomic consequences in 26, 23, and 25 percent of segments, respectively.

The debt ceiling, of course, hasn’t gone away, and will need to be dealt with again in May. Economists largely agree that the debt ceiling should be abolished.

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