There is no doubt that today’s economic crisis ranks among the most severe we’ve seen in decades, and no one discounts the painful dislocation millions of Americans are feeling amid housing losses and widespread job market instability. But it’s less persuasive that today’s recession equals the fundamental collapse of capitalism of the New Deal era. Indeed, recent public opinion polling suggests that Americans see business journalism as contributing to the economic downturn. As a January 1 Opinion Research Corporation survey reported:
Seventy-seven percent of Americans believe that the U.S. media is making the economic situation worse by projecting fear into people’s minds … The majority of those surveyed feel that the financial press, by focusing on and embellishing negative news, is damaging consumer confidence and damping investment, making a difficult situation much worse.
Careful observers of news and public opinion know that the mass media is consumed by “Depression fetishism.” It’s an affliction of the political left where pundits, liberal economists and far left bloggers endlessly decry “predatory capitalism.” Economic exaggeration and doomsday scenarios proliferate far and wide, with attacks on the Bush administration’s “malign economic neglect” bolstering the case on the Democratic left for a “New, New Deal.” Recall, for example, one of the great national newsweeklies sold magazines with a mock-up of President-elect Barack Obama riding in a vintage open-air sedan, while decked out with a crumpled fedora and an elongated cigarette filter. Can a new National Industrial Recovery Act be far behind?
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Here's an excerpt from my latest column at Pajamas Media: