NPR Blames Borrowers for Listening to NPR

Characterizing an “Incredibly Bad Economic Piece on NPR” as having “helped a blackmail effort,” blogging economist Dean Baker (Beat the Press, 2/27/09) says “the piece concluded by telling listeners that ‘the problem is us,’ that we had borrowed too much and therefore we have to pay the cost in the form of big taxpayer bailouts”:

Okay, this is wrong, wrong and wrong. First, the excessive borrowing wasn’t just shear frivolity, it was attributable to something that got very little notice from NPR at the time and unfortunately still gets very little notice from NPR: an $8 trillion housing bubble.

People borrowed against this bubble wealth because the experts that NPR and other media outlets present to the public all said that this run-up in house prices was real and would persist. Economists who warned about the housing bubble were almost completely excluded from NPR.

That “these reporters now want the taxpayers, rather than the bankers who profited from the bubble, to pay for this failure” has Baker thinking the NPR segment’s name, Planet Money, “may be appropriate because most listeners probably would not think it belongs on Planet Earth.”

See the FAIR magazine Extra!: “Busted Bubble: The Press Fell Down on the Job on Housing Prices” (11-12/08) by Veronica Cassidy