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Spin Disguised as "Business News"

Reported by Melanie - October 4, 2004 -

Neil Cavuto claims he's still trying to explain why the stock market hasn't crashed after Thursday's debate and Kerry's higher poll numbers.

Today (October 4, 2004) Cavuto held one of his regular round table discussions. His introduction went like this: "All right. So, are all those smartie pants wrong? Big gains Friday, the day after the first presidents debate where most were calling Senator Kerry the easy victor, and again today markets up despite the fact that now polls confirm the race has tightened if not showing the senator in a slight lead over the president. So what's going on here?"

The panel consisted of Brenda Buttner, Neil Cavuto, Meredith Whitney, Terry Keenan, Jonas Max Ferris and Cavuto. Ferris is the only one who isn't on Fox's payroll.

Keenan said the market rise is a bounce from the September sell-off. Buttner said "the debates aren't the election," many debate losers have ultimately won; the economy's doing well, the market is rallying on that, which is a plus for Bush. Ferris asked whether it mightn't be possible that a Kerry win doesn't look as negative as it used to. Someone off camera (all Fox employees) said "No." Then Buttner said Kerry will "still raise taxes" and he'll "do things the market will hate." Cavuto chimed in, "So did Clinton." Ferris said Kerry showed competence. A month ago he was perceived as bad, but has now improved and that's reflected in the market.

Whitney said the economy is better than the "doom-sayers" say, and Friday was the first day of the 3rd quarter. Cavuto asked Whitney if she gave Kerry any credit for the market rise. Whitney said "absolutely not." Cavuto reminded her that a lot of people at Fox said Kerry was bad for Wall Street yet Kerry gives the president a "licking," and the market "soars."

Buttner said the market "really loves gridlock," so if Kerry wins and gets a Republican congress, nothing gets done. Cavuto said Kerry's tax increases wouldn't get through. Keenan agreed and joked about Kerry changing his mind.

Ferris said the market factors in good and bad senarios and a Kerry win doesn't look as bad as it did a month ago. Whitney reminded him that a Bush win would be so much better for the market in terms of tort reform.

Cavuto wondered about the "style issue." He said some Republicans he's talked to say Kerry wasn't so bad, he looked presidential. Keenan said Kerry had better suits, the one he wore at the debate looked to have cost about "$4,000 bucks," but you couldn't really tell because his podium was too high. Then they joked about Kerry's height.

Cavuto said maybe "the street" is saying they could live with either one of these guys, but Keenan said they "could live with it if there's gridlock." Whitney said the market didn't seem to care about the debate on Friday.

Buttner said when Bush takes a licking he comes through. Cavuto wondered if there'd be a big moment in the VP debate and if the market was looking for that. Buttner said "I think so." Ferris said if Edwards doesn't "mop the floor" with Cheney people won't think he did very well but the expectations for Bush in the second debate are low so that could be a positive for him. Cavuto and Ferris agreed that if Cheney comes across as older and more experienced than Edwards, he'll win. Keenan said she expects a "Dan Quayle moment out of John Edwards." Buttner said Edwards is "very smooth" and the group agreed that Wall Street really has a problem with Edwards because of tort reform, health insurance and "everything else," as Buttner said. The discussion ended with the group agreeing that if Edwards loses he'll have plenty to do with bringing lawsuits against Merck over Vioxx.

COMMENT: Was this a discussion about why the stock market continues to go up despite Kerry's gains, as presented in the introduction? Maybe a tiny bit, but mostly not. It was spin about the first presidential debate. It was pre-debate spin about tomorrow night's VP debate, and Friday's second presidential debate. It was spin about the election generally. The politics were presented with a "business" flavor, and with "business" words thrown in for cover.