I want to set straight a contradiction that’s been irking me for the past few weeks. While the news media has been reporting slips, falls, and fluctuating markets, the actions of the people in charge have been pure adrenaline. Another word for that is panicking.
Since when do federal officials fly to Wall Street on weekends to broker massive bailout deals? Is this not panic?
How about major, historic investment houses suddenly converting into holding companies on a Sunday? People don’t do stuff like that on Sundays. Unless they’re panicking.
While the people at the apex of the crisis make desperate conciliatory moves with the economy, folks at the bottom of the hill are fed carefully sliced language to avoid a trickle-down effect.
According to the New York Times,
Each day presents new evidence that finance companies are uniquely vulnerable to a loss of confidence among creditors, trading partners, investors or customers. As a result, rumor, speculation and fear can cripple a bank with shocking speed. That has reporters and editors, so often accused of hyperbole and sowing alarm, parsing their words with unusual care.
“We’re very careful not to throw words around like ‘meltdown’ and ‘free fall,’ ” said Ali Velshi, senior business correspondent at CNN. “If someone wants to say the markets are in free fall, we’ll discuss it first,” he said, and the outcome is most likely to be a change in wording.
Hey, media! Since when is it your duty to wax diplomatic?* Hyperbole hurts, but so does the truth. And from what I’ve seen on the ground, people are quite aware that this country is out of money.
One final, ironic link remains. The markets haven’t crashed at time of writing. I venture that the media’s tiptoeing has something to do with keeping indexes afloat while the plump kitties on top figure out what to do next. If the media doesn’t watch its wording, and people on the ground panic, said kitties will point fingers at the media, which will then be cowed. Or ashamed. But since when is that the media’s role?
Main Street is on the verge of scattering the whole mess far and wide, but if we can keep the stock market teeter-tottering just long enough for the Wal-Market to come up with definitive-sounding answers, we stand a chance of mitigating doomsday.
The media is applying verbal Prozac to its readers in order to avoid blame for further economic fallout.
Regrettably, it also thinks its readers are stupid.
*The article says that CNBC, for example, regularly broadcasts stock-moving scoops based on rumors or tips from unsubstantiated sources.