As if on queue…

Spotting bad reporting on the evening network news shows is about as hard as spotting someone drinking Bud at a Cubs game. Yet one example jumped out at me tonight as particularly egregious. Granted, the network news is little more than reading Americentric headlines for 20 minutes, but that doesn’t lessen the impact of the take away message 13 million or so viewers will have. On the heels of a new Pew study on how the media has covered the 2012 primaries–which shows that the coverage of Obama is consistently negative (yes, one more nail in the coffin of the liberal media conspiracy)–as if on queue, NBC’s Brian Williams and Chuck Todd report on one of the big stories in the news, the impending increase in loan rates for student loans. I could add “unless congress does something,” but I’m talking about congress in an election year, so of course they won’t do anything. The take away for anyone watching Williams and Todd was simply this; we have to raise rates because the country is broke and we can’t afford to keep subsidizing student loans with low interest rates, and any grown up knows that (grown up is my term, not theirs, though it seemed pretty clearly their attitude). And why is President Obama arguing that we should keep the low rates? With a little under the breath chuckle from our two distinguished news readers, we learn that Obama is doing it solely because he is playing politics and it is an election year.
There is so much wrong with that take away, one barely knows where to start. That only Obama and not the Republicans are playing politics with the issue. That we have to raise rates is a foregone conclusion all grown ups understand. That raising rates will greatly hurt educational opportunities in America. That education is of utmost important to our future. None of that is worthy of mention. Let alone discussing how other industrial nations provide free college education, understanding it will pay for itself with the increased productivity of a better educated workforce.
True, this is nothing new. I just found it amusing watching the news tonight on the heels of the new Pew study. And they wonder why we have a poorly informed electorate. Well, more people still get their news from the network news shows than from any other source. There is no reason to wonder. The answer is sadly all too clear.


About JP

We're two guys who met in college, in 1980. We've stayed in touch, and like to talk politics, current events, music and religion. JP is nore liberal than Sid, but not in every way. We figure that dialogue stimulates ideas, moderates perspective, and is in general friendly. These are things we need badly in these dangerous times. The blog name is taken from a song by Bruce Cockburn.
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2 Responses to As if on queue…

  1. Jim says:

    Public radio and TV have been more fair. They begin that both Obama and Romney advocate keeping the rates low. They let on that it is the Dept of Education, the taxpayers making these loans. I do think it will be pretty safe for congress to pass a bill to keep student loan rates where they are. Although, the Republicans will complain about finding new cuts (not revenue! OMG!) to offset the service. These low rates are key and most everyone agrees they need to stay where they are.

    Student loan debt is about a trillion dollars – bigger than credit card debt in the US. Since it is a subsidy from the Fed/taxpayer, there is another issue: is this the best way to help students get to college? It’s the DOE making loans, with a 3.4% return… not bad, really.

  2. JP says:

    All true and well said. Yes, Public radio and TV do a much better job with their coverage (and that is a large part of the reason the Right continually calls for defunding them). The problem is that the combined viewership of the three network news programs is around 22 million (down from over 50 million in 1980). Under three million watch the PBS news hour every night. NPR is a little harder to define, and it seems that if you combine all their shows over a week, around 27 million listeners get some news from NPR each week. And Pew reported last year that cable news shows were losing viewers and NPR was gaining. So there is hope, and still a ways to go.
    The best way to help students go to college would be to provide a free college education. They do it in other countries. They did it in California (until Governor Reagan said he wouldn’t pay for the education of anyone who disagreed with him). And it works. It pays for itself over the long run as more educated people are more productive, earn more money, and thus contribute more back in tax dollars. The transition would be hard for a few years, but no harder than letting the Chinese pay for us to fight two wars we didn’t need. Of course, politically there is always money for war, and not so much for education.

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