Accuracy in Media

Now that Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has essentially admitted that his Wall
Street bailout plan isn’t working, it’s worthwhile to examine the fawning media
coverage he received when he pressured President Bush and Congress into
approving it. “This former investment banker may be the right man at the right
time,” was one of the headlines over a gushing September 29 Newsweek article by Daniel Gross. Among
his attributes, we were told, Paulson was an Eagle Scout.

But
as an Eagle Scout myself, I seem to remember that the Boy Scout motto was “Be
prepared.” Paulson seems not to be prepared for anything.

As
Michelle Malkin, who was opposed to the bailout, puts it in her new column: “The man doesn’t know
what the hell he’s doing.”

In
a separate Newsweek article in the same issue, Fareed Zakaria said, “In
Paulson, America
is extremely fortunate to have a man of tremendous intelligence, drive and
pragmatism, who will engage in ‘bold and persistent experimentation’ until the
job is done.” The article was headlined “Big Government to the Rescue.”

In
retrospect, the phrase “persistent experimentation” apparently means making
mistake after mistake and not being held accountable for them.

Making
Paulson out to be the boy next door, Newsweek included a series of photos
apparently taken from the Paulson family album. There was a photo of Paulson as
a “college football star,” a photo of the “nature-loving Paulson” holding a
hawk, a photo of Paulson on a kayak, and so on.

But
there was a bit of hard news in the piece. Paulson, Gross reported, “had always
been a Republican―but more a Rockefeller Republican than a DeLay.” This is
another way of saying that this Wall Street banker and former CEO of Goldman
Sachs is a liberal. A better description would be Wall Street socialist. So how
did he end up as Bush’s Treasury Secretary? He was recruited for the job by
White House chief of staff Josh Bolten, who, from 1994 to 1999, was Executive
Director for Legal & Government Affairs at Goldman Sachs International in London.  

“In
many ways, Paulson was the ideal person to deal with this mess,” Gross reported
at the time. Paulson was “noted for self-discipline, focus on controlling risk
and mastery of detail.” Now he comes across as a dummy who not only doesn’t
know what he’s doing but isn’t willing to step aside so that someone more knowledgeable
can take command.

Meanwhile,
President George W. Bush seems even more clueless. He gave a Thursday speech to the Manhattan
Institute pretending that American-style capitalism still exists. “I’m a market-oriented
guy, but not when I’m faced with the prospect of a global meltdown,” Bush said.
He went on to say, “History has shown that the greater threat to economic
prosperity is not too little government involvement in the market, it is too
much government involvement in the market.”

Does
the President realize that he is contradicting himself? Needless to say, none
of this inspires confidence. His bizarre comments receive little attention
because he is considered a lame duck and Paulson is really running the show.

Now
free to speak her mind, Alaska Governor and former GOP vice presidential
candidate Sarah Palin has weighed in, telling The Weekly Standard that she is getting
tired of Paulson’s changes to the bailout plan. “I think the surprises make the
electorate distrust elected officials and their ability to appoint people who
are to be looking out for the public’s interest,” she says. This is an
understatement. People not only don’t trust the government, they are getting
angry at the reckless policies that threaten national bankruptcy and may
consign generations of Americans to living under socialism.

However,
Bill Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, tried to convince House
Republicans to vote for the plan that Palin now attacks in the pages of his
magazine. Kristol endorsed Paulson’s plan, saying “failing to
pass it will exacerbate them [financial problems], and will keep the markets in
a state of roiling uncertainty at best, and meltdown at worst.” So what has
happened since its passage? As you may have noticed, the markets have continued
in uncertainty and we seem to be undergoing a meltdown.

Kristol
added at the time that “House Republicans should help pass the bill. I think
it’s the only responsible thing to do in terms of the economy. But I also think
it’s the only way McCain has a chance to win.” He added that, “Passing the
bailout would give McCain a fighting chance to win, which in turn provides the
best chance―the only chance―for conservative principles to prevail in the next
few years.”

In
fact, the best chance for conservative principles to prevail was to follow the
conservative principles embodied in the 2008 Republican platform. That document declared, “We do not support
government bailouts of private institutions. Government interference in the
markets exacerbates problems in the marketplace and causes the free market to
take longer to correct itself.”

You
may have noticed that McCain, who followed Kristol’s advice and voted for the
bailout, went down to defeat on November 4. By the way, most House Republicans
voted against the bailout. They have been proven right by events. It would be
nice if Kristol would admit the error of his ways. But that is not a practice
that is commonplace in conservative or liberal media circles these days.

Similarly,
Paulson didn’t really admit that he himself had made a mistake. Instead, he declared on Wednesday that “It was clear to
me by the time the bill was signed on October 3rd that we needed to act quickly
and forcefully, and that purchasing troubled assets―our initial focus―would
take time to implement and would not be sufficient given the severity of the
problem.”

In
other words, by the time that the bill had been signed, Paulson knew that the
Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) that he had proposed wouldn’t work. That
is why he quickly changed the plan to use the taxpayer money to buy stakes in
banks. Now, “new strategies” are being tried and
developed, he says. And it is all being done, of course, at our expense.

One
of the new strategies, he indicated, will come out of Saturday’s international
financial summit in Washington,
D.C. The nations of the world
must develop a “shared interest in a solution” on a global level, he says.

Bush,
in his speech, called for “leading nations” to “better coordinate national laws
and regulations.” He urged the “reform” of international financial institutions
such as the IMF and the World Bank so that their “governance structures” come
to “better reflect the realities of today’s global economy.”

I
think I’m starting to get it. First it was “Big Government to the Rescue.” But
since that didn’t work, we now need “Global Government to the Rescue.” We will
not only lose our money but the sovereignty of our nation. Our media have been
active accomplices in this unfolding catastrophe.




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