Wednesday, October 1, 2008

BAILOUT - Piss-Poor Messaging

You didn't ask me, but in my professional life I'm a communicator. I oversee what my agency says and how we say it. I am engaged in the time-honored traditions of message development and message discipline. Don't hate me, but I prepare talking points (gasp!) and conduct trainings on how to do interviews with the media.

So it is within that context that I say to you that framing The Financial Crisis of My Generation as a "bailout" of Wall Street is criminally stupid!

Politicians and the media alike have done a great disservice to Americans by using the easy, sexy,soundbite 'bailout." And by doing so they have convinced average Americans, who don't have a clue as to what is really going on, that this is a bill that would "bailout" Wall Street billionaires without any benefit to the average American.

The constant, hammering usage of the term "bailout" is both political and journalistic stupidity. And, as everyone seems to like saying during these difficult times, "there is a lot of finger pointing to do." From bloggers to The New York Times. From Bush to Biden. From McCain to Obama.


What an idiotic way to try to explain what's really happening! No wonder hundreds-of-thousands of people lobbied their Congressperson to vote against what should have been called the "Financial Rescue" bill. No wonder the Congressional web site almost crashed yesterday when millions of people tried to e-mail their Congressperson.

Americans are pissed-off and all they hear is "bailout!"

I'm pissed-off too! I'm pissed-off at the writers and reporters and TV talking-heads who should have known better.

But today - something miraculous happened in the media - some few people thought it important to tell, in simple terms, why Americans should want a "Financial Rescue" bill to pass.

Two I would like mention are Tom Friedman of The New York Times and his column of today, and Neil Irwin's contribution to financial literacy in today's Washington Post.

In an era of mind-numbing simpletons speaking endlessly about complex issues of which they know nothing it's wonderful to finally see some attempts at clarity.

The real "bailout" we need is relief from the chattering class who simply occupy time and space and who otherwise make no significant contribution to our understanding of "what now."