News Bias

A former colleague recently sent me a New York Times article from 1999 discussing how Fannie Mae was easing requirements for the mortgages that it would purchase from banks, in an effort to increase home ownership among minorities.

As far as I know, my correspondent is correct: the root cause of our current economic woes was the decision in the 1990s, in terms of government policy, to make it easier to get a mortgage, ostensibly to encourage home ownership.

Yet last Monday, in a series on the economic crisis, the NBC Nightly News overlooked this detail.  According to the report, the origin of our difficulties came after 11 September 2001, when, in an effort to prop up the economy, interest rates were held low, and mortgages were issued to anyone who was breathing.  No mention was made of what led to the easy mortgages.

Yes, it’s a case of biased reporting.

The editors at Nightly News probably anticipated that if they traced the origins of our problems to government policy in the 1990s, they would be deemed ‘offensive:’ how dare you accuse innocent minorities of ruining the economy!

But the New York Post, which points to the easy-mortgage policies of the 1990s and neglects what happened afterward, is also biased. It strains their world view to consider that businessmen might be motivated by greed, to the exclusion of common sense.

Ultimately, it is the responsibility of each of us to review the news and decide for ourselves.

Everyone has their own particular axe to grind.

Even me.

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