This just in: American media outlets are suffering a breakdown in the free-flow of accurate information.
Just as the pipelines of credit have been clogged by bad assets on the balance sheets of American banking institutions, creating severe downward pressure on the economy, so also are many of America’s old-guard news and information outlets clogged with conjecture, triviality, and inaccurate information - - creating a perfect environment for an “uninformed electorate.”
And if there was ever a time that the American people needed a “rescue plan” to be implemented by the new alternative media, that time is now.
The recent train wrecks on both Wall Street and Capitol Hill - - and the ways in which they have been portrayed - - illustrate this media meltdown. With presidential candidates traversing across the country over the past 2 years blaming “fat cat executives” for banking failures, many news outlets have been content to simply regurgitate the political rhetoric without even attempting to contextualize what has been happening before our eyes.
Thus, we have many Americans - - how many is unknown, but likely many millions - - actually believing that the failures of lending institutions were all caused by “corporate greed” and “predatory lenders.” It’s likely that many of these Americans know nothing about how lenders have been pressured by government over the past many years to make loans to risky and lower-income borrowers, under the auspices of “fair” and “affordable housing,” and how these government-induced, high-risk loans have in part led to bank failures.
But Americans do know that lending institutions have failed, and that these failures are hurting the overall economy, and that they are scared about the economy. And Barack Obama has the anecdote for our fears: government will take care of us all. Obama has now begun criticizing John McCain’s “risky” plans for “de-regulation” of lending institutions, and is proposing more, “tougher” regulation.
But where is the big old media on this one? There seems to be no interest in the fact that over the past five years, the Bush Administration and several key Republicans in the Congress (John McCain being one of them) have been pushing for more regulation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, not less. Indeed, in 2003, the New York Times labeled Bush’s regulatory proposals as "the most significant regulatory overhaul in the housing finance industry since the savings and loan crisis a decade ago."
But guess who opposed the Bush Administration’s regulatory proposals? Obama’s fellow Democrat Barney Frank, who is now Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. In 2003, Frank rebuffed the Bush regulatory proposals, saying "These two entities—Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac—are not facing any kind of financial crisis…The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing."
Similar circumstances surround Senator Christopher Dodd, Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee. As recently as last year, Dodd opposed what he called the Bush Administration’s “ill-advised” reform policies for Fannie and Freddie.
Worse yet, we now know that in the face of increased regulatory efforts by President Bush and congressional Republicans, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bought the silence of many in the Congress. Indeed, between the years 1998 and 2008, Senator Dodd, along with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Senator John Kerry, and - - yes - - Senator Barack Obama, were the top four recipients of Fannie and Freddie campaign donations, all the while they mocked the regulatory efforts of their Republican colleagues.
But among the ranks of the big, old media, seemingly nobody cares to question Congressman Frank’s pledge to “fully investigate” what went wrong, or Senator Dodd’s remarks on Bloomberg television when he said "I have a lot of questions about where was the administration over the last eight years."
This current crisis of information makes for an interesting parallel with the federal government shutdown of 1995. Back then, the Republican majority in Congress, frustrated with a lack of cooperation from the Clinton Administration on budgetary matters, chose to simply not pass governmental funding bills, and allow for major portions of the government to become inoperative.
The old media chose at that time to convey the Administration’s side of the story almost exclusively. Thus, news accounts were filled with tragic stories of governmental employees being furloughed, Americans suffering for lack of governmental services, and so forth. Ultimately, the shutdown proved to be politically damaging for Congressional Republicans, and a boon for President Clinton.
But that was in 1995. Back then, blogs, pod casts, talk radio and web tv did not exist as they do today.
Today, some of the very same Congressional Criminals who helped push our nation’s financial institutions to the brink, now want to lead us down the paths of righteousness - - and one of them wants to be President. These circumstances constitute an emergency, and new media must redouble its efforts to respond to it.
Austin Hill is an Author, Consultant, and Host of "Austin Hill's Big World of Small Business," a syndicated talk show about small business ownership and entrepreneurship. He is Co-Author of the new release "The Virtues Of Capitalism: A Moral Case For Free Markets." , Author of "White House Confidential: The Little Book Of Weird Presidential History," and a frequent guest host for Washington, DC's 105.9 WMAL Talk Radio.