When Watchdogs Snore: How ABC, CBS and NBC Ignored Fannie & Freddie
Our 'Fourth Estate' was Asleep at the Wheel!
As of this Tuesday morning, the media has finally woke up. On Morning Joe, Joe Scarborough's MSNBC news program, reporters finally realize their role in providing the information the public needs to know.
By Rich Noyes
September 25, 2008 - 17:05 ET
The two mortgage giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae — seized by the government September 7 before they went completely bankrupt, at a potential cost to taxpayers of more than $25 billion — have been in obvious trouble for much of the past five years — with criminal investigations, accounting scandals, firings, resignations, huge losses and warnings from the Federal Reserve that their huge portfolio of mortgage securities posed a risk to the overall financial system.
But prior to this year, the watchdogs at ABC, CBS and NBC found time for only 10 stories on the financial health and management of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. A review of the three networks’ morning and evening news programs from January 1, 2003 through December 31, 2007 found nine anchor-read items or brief references to the companies troubles, plus one in-depth report by CBS’s Anthony Mason on the May 23, 2006 Evening News, after Fannie Mae was fined $400 million for accounting fraud.
It’s not that the networks eschew business news. A 2005 report from the MRC’s Business and Media Institute found heavy coverage of the scandal surrounding Enron, but no interest in the growing scandal surrounding Fannie Mae: “A LexisNexis search of ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN on the term ‘Enron’ from the nine months around when the story first broke – Oct. 1, 2001, to July 1, 2002, produced 3,017 hits....A similar LexisNexis search was performed for the term ‘Fannie Mae’ for those same media, from June 1, 2004, to March 1, 2005, again during the time the story was breaking. This search discovered a paltry 37 matches.”
Follow the breakdown of media reaction to each new turn of the growing scandal. on NewsBusters
So: What's your take? Were the media negligent? Were they bought off? Or are they just morons too?