The Media Makes Things Worse

Does this really surprise anyone?

Poll: 77% of Americans Blame the media for making the economic crisis worse.

How many times in the past have we seen media coverage make a marginally bad situation worse by hyping it to death? Quite a few, in my memory.

Does anyone remember Senator Chuck Schumer's declaration last year that West Coast bank Indy Mac was in trouble and was likely to fail? If the media hadn't played this up as they did, Indy Mac would likely have survived. But because the media gave it a full court press, customers of Indy Mac panicked and withdrew $1.8 billion (that's billion with a 'b') in cash, leaving the bank with little or no liquidity. The bank failed. Chuck Schumer and the media created a bank run that destroyed an otherwise healthy bank. If the media had been more responsible, Chuck's words would never have made it into the papers or on the air, the bank run would never have happened, and Indy Mac would have been just fine.

Of course the media always plays the old “The people have a right to know” card, even if that 'knowledge' is harmful, misleading, or even worse, false. They use it as a shield to deflect accusations that they themselves are the guilty party. The people may have a right to know, but who says they have to know right now? It seems that over the last couple of decades or so the media's need to be the first to break a story has replaced the need to be accurate, to check their facts, and not to report hearsay or second/third hand information as gospel.

Some of that push to be first may be blamed upon the advent of electronic news gathering, making breaking stories available instantly. The time available for fact checking and background has shrunk to almost nothing, meaning far too many reports are aired or put onto news websites before all the facts are available. This has lead to an increasing incidents of erroneous reporting.

But to get back to the main subject, it appears the media revels in the impending doom of economic downturns, massive job losses, and hardships brought to American families. Panic sells, and the media is very good at selling panic. Economic problems are the easiest to sell since they can affect everyone, rich and poor.

For the past two or three years they media has been trying to sell a recession, even though until recently there wasn't one, nor were there signs of one. But they kept making the claim, and eventually people started believing them. And once that happened, and the people started acting as if there was indeed a recession by cutting back on expenditures, lo and behold, a recession arrived. Why? Because people started cutting back on expenditures, which dropped sales, which in turn caused a cut back in orders from manufacturers, which in turn led to layoffs, which caused more people to cut back on expenditures. It was self-fulfilling prophecy made by the media.

Some may claim it was the meltdown of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that led us to this point, but they were but one more symptom of the problem, not necessarily the problem itself. The media was also one of those in the cheering section for those supporting more loans to low-income families wanting to buy their own homes. But when those families started defaulting on the loans because they really couldn't afford them, the media acted surprised.

Is it any wonder most Americans don't trust the media and blame them for the economic problems we now face?

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