Breaking News! Major News Outlet Overtly Supports Big Financial Institution
This past Sunday morning, as I waited in line at the bagel store for my egg sandwich on a poppy bagel, something I spied out of the corner of my eye almost stopped my heart. On the cover of a major U.S. newspaper I saw in bold letters a headline that was supportive of, and sympathetic towards . . . wait for it . . . a large global financial institution.
As someone who puts food on the table by helping financial services firms manage their reputations, this was a stunning development. Since the financial crisis, large banks and other financial institutions have been vilified by the media and the public in general. So, when I saw the cover of Sunday’s New York Post with the headline “Uncle Scam” in bold letters, it was quite a surprise. Just above the headline were the words “U.S. robs bank of $13B.” Had I crossed over into Twilight Zone in this bagel store?
The fall from grace experienced by JP Morgan Chase as of late is quite astonishing. Major financial news outlets have been covering the London Whale situation and the penalty the bank is paying to resolve issues related to sales of mortgage backed securities. But, the coverage has generally been fair and balanced. The Post’s blatant show of support for JP Morgan Chase sticks out like a sore thumb.
As I sat down to eat the above mentioned egg sandwich, I pondered the Post’s motivation for this public show of support for Jamie Dimon and his global banking behemoth. Perhaps the company’s standing as a major employer and tax payer, not to mention supporter of numerous charitable causes in the city, was a factor. According to a list compiled by Business Insider, JP Morgan Chase ranks as New York City’s sixth largest employer and largest non-government, non-healthcare related employer (in 2011). Certainly its standing as a leading New York-based business could be behind the glowing headline.
The Post also leans very much towards pro-business, conservative coverage. Calling the government “Uncle Scam” is a swipe at the Obama administration, the punching bag of choice for conservative Republicans. While the front cover headline made a huge statement, the actual story itself was quite short and mostly made up of quotes from analysts and experts. The article did feature quotes including “the earnings power of banks is being regulated out of them” and “this is a basic and fundamental attack on capitalism.” Perhaps the reason for this headline was to take a swipe at the President and paint him as a big government, anti-business leader.
According to a survey conducted by Pace University in 2004, the Post was rated the least-credible major news outlet in New York. Perhaps it was poor editorial oversight that led to this headline making it to the front cover on Sunday.
Or, perhaps the tide is turning and public and media perceptions of large financial institutions—banks, asset managers, wealth managers, hedge funds, insurers and others—is softening. These companies provide businesses with capital to keep the economic engine humming. They manage our money so we can retire and send our kids to college. They make sure that we are protected in the event of a catastrophe or other unexpected event. Perhaps Americans have recognized just how important these types of companies are to ensuring their financial well-being.
What do you think?