Friday, March 20, 2009

Bailout Rage: Tale of Two Cities

The epicenters of the national economic crisis are showing a curious journalistic inversion in covering the news. The New York Times, at the heart of the financial industry, seems focused on reporting popular rage as the Washington Post, home of posturing politicians, is making more of a sustained effort to keep the issues in perspective.

This conclusion, admittedly impressionistic but based on close reading of the papers over the past months, is reflected in today's issues.

The Times features "Scorn Trails A.I.G. Executives, Even in Their Driveways" and "Connecticut Senator Draws Voters’ Ire for His Bonus Role," which highlight the blame game, while the Post offers "In New Dilemma, Banks Cite Two Paths to Disaster," a balanced report on the tension inherent in government supervision, and business columnist Steven Pearlstein's "Let's Put Down the Pitchforks":

"At the end of the day, the thing to get outraged about is not the $440 million in bonuses at AIG or the $10 million that Citigroup is spending to redesign its shrunken executive suite...almost insignificant compared with the real outrage: the hundreds of billion dollars of taxpayer funds that have been put at risk to keep AIG and Citi from failing and taking the whole financial system down with them. Let's keep our attention on the elephant rather than the pimples on its behind."

My conclusion, not buttressed by statistics, may be unfair to the Times, but I have seen nothing comparable there to the long takeout last month and a previous three-part series in the Post about the origins and history of the AIG debacle.

As the US Congress spends precious time playing gotcha on a minuscule issue in the nation's crisis, it would be helpful if the newspaper of record devoted more of its attention to what really matters.

1 comment:

(O)CT(O)PUS said...

Your post brings perfect balance to an erstwhile emotive issue ... and mirrors my thoughts exactly.