OLD Media Moves

How did we get here?

December 15, 2008

Yvette Kantrow of The Deal writes that the business media hasn’t done a very good job of explaining to consumers how the economic crisis go to where it is right now.

Kantrow writes, “Unfortunately, the media, like everyone else from Henry Paulson on down, didn’t really have a clue. But various explanations, usually of the one-dimensional sort, were promptly proffered by self-assured pundits and politicos, who happily fed theories to journalists desperate for insight.

“The result was a barrage of stories of the-we-figured-this-all-out-and-will-now-explain-it-to-you-poor-dumdums variety. Most of these pieces pinned the disaster on a single, often simplistic cause, as if one event, thing, or person could really be fingered for perpetrating the meltdown. Consuming this left average folks as knowledgeable about the crisis as blind men trying to get a sense of an elephant.

“CBS’ ’60 Minutes’, for example, told us the culprit was credit default swaps. At the New York Times, the big bugaboo was — is — executive comp, specifically investment banking executive comp. Other outlets (including The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page) fingered the Community Reinvestment Act as the source of our subprime woes, while CNN (and countless others) fixated on greed, particularly among Wall Streeters, which the cable network illustrated by repeatedly showing aerial shots of Dick Fuld’s Greenwich mansion.

“The fall of Glass-Steagall, deregulating Republicans, Fannie and Freddie-lovin’ Democrats, conflicted credit rating agencies, short sellers, Alan Greenspan, Robert Rubin, unscrupulous lenders, clueless borrowers — they all took their turn as the ne plus ultra explanation of how we got into this mess.”

Read more here.

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