The global financial crisis has been blamed on bankers, governments, regulators and Wall Street investors. But what about the journalists who talked up the market?
“We drank the Kool-Aid,” said Jane Bryant Quinn, personal finance columnist for Bloomberg and Newsweek. “We believed that free markets were the best kind [of markets].” She said it had become “unfashionable” over the last three decades to write about regulation, so they didn’t.
“We could say things were risky … but we never said ‘Where’s the Fed?’”
Veteran TV journalist Allan Dodds Frank, who now writes for the DailyBeast.com after a career with CNN, Bloomberg and ABC News covering white collar crime, said that complex economic stories were virtually impossible to sell to his editors.
“Fannie and Freddie were not covered on TV because there’s no visual,” he said, referring to the country’s major lenders, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which made billions in the run up to the collapse by doling out increasingly high-risk loans.
He said journalists couldn’t figure out what “Wall Street was doing” and that high-rolling CEOs and fund managers were never compelled to answer tough questions.
“We soft-balled them because we wanted them to come on [our shows] … we let them hide the ball on us.”