On Cronkite, Colonoscopies And Con Jobs

 A couple of thoughts after hearing our network news anchors reporting on record profits being hauled in by Goldman Sachs.

The big investment bank nearly doubled its first-quarter earnings to $3.3 billion, its “second most profitable quarter since going public in 1999.”  The AP reports that a lawyer for the firm, which faces civil fraud charges, said Goldman would  “never intentionally mislead anyone.”

Of course, urging others to invest in bundled securities that were sure to crash and then putting your money down on a bet that they would crash and then selling short…….it was all just a mistake.  Or maybe none of that really happened and the government’s got it all wrong.  Or I’ve got it all wrong.   It’s gotten to be so convoluted, confusing and contrived.  And listening to all those pundits and economists just makes your head hurt.

But hey, back to the network news, which has to make things simple enough for us non-economists to understand.  Understanding.  Therein lies the rub, and the big guys on Wall Street know it.  They’ve put together  a system that’s so complex, with “derivatives” and whose-its and what-nots, that very few people can figure out what’s going on.

Suppose that’s by design?

Top that off with spending more than $1 million a day to convince the Congress to leave them alone (no meaningful regulations have been put in place to control the financial industry since the crash)  and there you have it.  Our current system  of non-regulation, which, experts say, may very well push us into another greed-driven economic meltdown.

Yes, Mr. Obama is pushing for reform.  Is he going to get it?  Or will it be the same kind of sugar-coated, softball legislation that was sold to the public as “better than nothing”  healthcare reform?   I’m not saying it wasn’t better than nothing, because it was.  It just wasn’t enough.  And doing the same thing with the financial industry won’t be enough, either.

What do the networks report?  They dutifully tell us about the increase in profits.  That’s good.  They see that as a sign that the economic recovery is working.  That’s good too.  Then, just when you’re starting to feel a little better about the whole thing, they report that the government is taking Goldman Sachs to court, charging them with fraud.

Uh…..okay.  And all of that means, what?

People have stopped reading the papers, but a big chunk of America still watches the network news.  It’s time for the network news operations to take off the gloves and get back in the business of using plain language to tell people how badly they are being screwed by Wall Street.   It’s that simple.  Beyond facing the very real possibility that neither Katie nor Diane have the adequate weight of credibility to pick up an audience, the network news operations have to try and return to what they once were.  Relevant.

When Cronkite came back from Vietnam and  told the truth in plain language about the futility of continuing the war,  the American people listened.  Walter Cronkite, was the most trusted man in America.  He wasn’t pretty or perky but he had done a couple of things that added some weight to his credibility as a journalist, like serving as a correspondent during World War II and working to uphold standards established by Ed Murrow.

What do we have now?  Let’s see, Katie did that groundbreaking colonoscopy thing followed by the big interview with Sarah Palin, and Diane worked for the White House, so she’s really one of “them” and not one of “us.”   No, no, terrible to think that way.  People will call me a chauvinist.  I’ll have to go back to Minnesota and put in a vegetable garden.

Back on point:  The big bankers got big government to repeal some really big regulations put in place by FDR in the 1930’s to prevent another Great Depression from happening.  Then, following the Clinton Administration (yes folks, Bill Clinton, repealed much of the Glass Steagall Act) and with the assistance of the Bush Administration, our wonderful financial institutions (big greed) were free to put together the convoluted, underhanded and un-American process that resulted in the whole sub-prime lending mess which led us to the brink of Great Depression II.

With no new meaningful regulations, we are still right there, on that brink, while Wall Street continues to pay off the Congress with mountains of bribe money.  It’s one big con job and many of our elected representatives are on the inside looking out.

At least that’s what the economists that don’t work for Wall Street are saying.

You wonder why the Tea Party folks are so upset?    You wonder why long time shoe-in politicians like Barbara Boxer are worried about being re-elected in the mid-terms?

Wall Street is screwing America and the Congress is being bought off to look the other way.   They are using the nation’s wealth for government sanctioned casino gambling.  With all that money being thrown around, and all those people being paid off, chances are Mr. Obama won’t be able to do all that much about it unless the American public gets even angrier than they already are.   I mean 1960’s style, march on Washington and vote all the bums out angry.  The kind of anger that will be generated only after everybody understands exactly what’s going on.  The kind of angry that will make the Tea Party look tame.   People need to know the unvarnished truth.

Time to take the gloves off and make it relevant.  Time to connect all the dots, hold the bastard’s feet to the fire and tell the truth in clear and simple language.  Do that, network bosses, go back to doing the job you used to do standing post as the nation’s watchdog, and some of your lost audience may come back.

If it doesn’t work  you can always revert to Katie’s colonoscopy and Diane Sawyer’s pleasing smile and loving demeanor.

One thought on “On Cronkite, Colonoscopies And Con Jobs”

  1. “Write on” Ron.

    Dumbing down is the name of the game.

    Thinking things through is borderline criminal in a lot of news rooms today, and our culture seems to be very accepting of the sensational rhetoric passing for actual “news.”

    You’re creating an archive for current and future generations to make a distinction between “real” broadcast journalism and a “reasonable facsimile” thereof.

    Unfortunately, the pride of covering a story thoroughly and objectively has long been abandoned by the Fourth Estate (especially political news stories).

    MJ

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