Cable news avoided economists during debt debate

NEW YORK (AP) - Economists aren't necessarily the first in line at cable news networks when someone is needed to talk about economic issues.

The watchdog group Media Matters for America said in a report Wednesday that only 4 percent of the people brought on to talk about the debt ceiling issue on CNN, Fox News Channel and MSNBC this summer were actual economists.

Most were politicians. Media Matters said that's understandable, given that Congress and the president decided the issue, but that it was important to include others in the debate.

"The fact that economists are such a small part of the coverage speaks to a lack of depth that viewers are getting," said Ari Rabin-Havt, vice president of Media Matters.

Media Matters generally lobbies on behalf of liberal causes but said its findings in this case crossed partisan lines. Of the 1,258 people brought on as guests on the three channels to talk about the debt ceiling debate from July 2 to Aug. 2, 52 were economists. Fox had the most guests and fewest economists, 488 to 11, the group said.

The findings are similar to a Media Matters report two years ago that said few economists were brought on to talk about stimulus legislation.

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