Herman Cain

The American dream is alive and well, though you wouldn’t know it from watching the network news.

Liberal election rhetoric is counting on middle-class Americans believing someone is out to get them – and that they need the government’s protection. Recently we’ve seen this in media coverage of lenders, which ABC News called “the home wreckers.”

“Locking families out of the American dream by offering mortgages too good to be true,” was anchor Charles Gibson’s description.

Sure, there are unscrupulous lenders out there. But to describe an entire class of businesspeople in such a way is unforgivable.

If it were not for hard-working businessmen and women, we would not have grocery stores stocked with food, cars, our computers, houses or any of our comforts of life.

There’s an old African proverb that says it takes a village to raise a child. Well, it takes a whole country full of businessmen to sustain America. They keep America – and others around the world – eating, driving, playing, and building homes.

But many Americans don’t view businessmen that way. A 2007 Harris Poll revealed that in a list of occupations rated for “very great prestige,” businessmen came in 15th place, after farmers and lawyers. Those specifically in the financial sector ranked even lower – stock brokers, accountants and bankers came in 19th, 20th and 21st, respectively.

The unfortunate truth is that the crimes and scandals of a few – like Enron and WorldCom – have tainted the nation’s view of all in the same profession.

The news media have been the constant bearers of bad news and negative portrayals of businessmen. Yes, Enrons do happen, but very few executives are involved in such scandals. Watching CNN, however, you might think crime was practically a job requirement. On CNN’s “Lou Dobbs Tonight” in 2006, 76 percent of the show’s portrayals of businessmen were negative. The program had criminal businessmen seven times as often as it featured businessmen-philanthropists.

That interesting nugget comes from a study by the Media Research Center’s Business & Media Institute, which looked at an entire year of evening newscasts. It found when businessmen were included in the news, they were often under attack.

This in-depth study, which took thousands of man-hours, identified journalists’ portrayals of businessmen and women and evaluated those that had a tilt toward the positive or the negative. Of those, it found 57 percent were negative. Businessmen were described as “fat cats” or “another corporate crook,” and stories were laced with worries about “stratospheric sums” of “CEO pay run amok.”

Herman Cain

Herman Cain is the National Chairman of the Media Research Center’s Business & Media Institute. He is the former president and CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, Inc., and currently is CEO and president of T.H.E. New Voice, Inc., a business and leadership consulting company.

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