After Congress failed to pass a $700 billion economic bailout package, to which the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 777 points in reaction(resulting in the disappearance of an estimated $1.2 trillion in capital), one would think there’d be plenty of analysis on what this means to Americans.
There was plenty of analysis out there – if you knew where to look for it (RealClearMarkets.com, like its sister site RealClearPolitics.com, rounds up a variety of market news coverage). But demand for explanation cooled after the market bounced back: The Dow posted the third-highest one-day point gain in history by jumping 485 points; the rise was presumed to be from investor confidence that the House will pass a revised bill later this week.
Interested in finding out what the top headlines were after the roller coaster of a news day, I was surprised what stories were churning in the blogosphere’s popular political sites. Some featured headlines sum it up:
- “Fingerpointing continues on bailout failure” (Townhall.com)
- “It’s your fault, Stupid” (The DailyKos)
- “Poll: GOP blamed for failed bailout” (Politico.com)
Bloggers aren’t concerned with what the economic problem is, but who’s to blame.
But to be fair, they’re more or less just covering what’s happening. Both sides started blaming each other after the bill failed: Democrat Barney Frank failed McCain for supporting the measure but not getting Republicans to vote for it; Republicans skewered House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for her pre-vote harangue on President Bush’s economic policies.
McCain and Obama encouraged House members to put aside partisan politics and to pass the bill. But the candidates’ talk only went so far: Both were accusing each other of contributing to the mess throughout the day.
Now we’re seeing who’s benefiting from the chaos based on poll numbers, which are now being covered in both blogs and in the mainstream media. The latest Washington Post-ABC News and Fox News/Rasmussen polls of who’s ahead in the presidential race topped Google News headlines late today.
Despite we’re hearing that America is in the “worst financial crisis since the Great Depression” and even former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan agrees this is the worst economy he’s ever seen, the horse race and blame game stories are instead dominating the headlines.
The focus away from complex issues is no surprise – it’s easier to cover personality conflicts and partisan bickering, but it’s at the expense of the general public, who is missing context. You can’t find many places that credibly address what the bailout vote means for taxes, retirement savings, the U.S. market and much more.
It’d be beneficial to have a newsmaker like Greenspan, or any other person in the long list of well-known financial experts, provide multiple two-minute vlogs that, stripped of partisan rhetoric, addressed these very topics individually on financial sites like RealClearMarkets.com.
The vlogs could relate economic implications to real-world examples that any viewing audience could interpret and understand. A move like this would hopefully correct the focus of news coverage.
You’d think in a week with historic economic news, those in both new and old media would be covering these questions in more detail instead of who’s ahead in the horse race.
Today’s market jump seemed to mean crisis was temporarily diverted and served a signal that it’s okay to get back to the conflict between candidates.
That much is true, it seems, at least until the House votes for it again later this week.
–posted by Ryan Curell
Originally posted October 5, 2008 at PolicyByBlog