ABC: European Elections Matter, Mostly to American 401(k)s

Parliamentary elections in Greece saw the conservative-leaning New Democracy party win a narrow victory over the left-wing anti-austerity Syriza coalition. This was good news for an array of major players who prefer Greece to stick to the current punishing bailout plan arranged by European countries.

ABC World News showed which angle mattered most when anchor Diane Sawyer led a report (6/18/12) on the election results this way:

And now we move on to your money and the momentary sigh of relief for every American with a 401(k). The voters of Greece this weekend decided to stay the course in Europe, sparing the U.S. stock market and those around the globe a wild upheaval.

So the first order of business is how the election impacts American retirement investments. This has actually been a recurring theme on ABC‘s newscast when it comes to European financial crisis. On June 17:

BIANNA GOLODRYGA: The markets were bracing for the worst following this election. Remember, Europe is our largest trading partner. So whatever happens there affects all bottom line here, and in particular, our 401 (k) s.

June 11:

JEFFREY KOFMAN: Greeks vote this Sunday, the outcome could force them to leave the Euro, destroying confidence in the currency.

By Monday, U.S. stocks would plummet, hurting your 401k.

June 10:

DAVID MUIR: Next to economy this evening and to what could be another volatile week for your 401 (k). We reported last night here on Spain and that bombshell bailout request….

The Dow, anticipating Spain would ask for this help, moved upward this past week, the best week all year. An American 401 (k) with $100,000 saved added $3,500 in just a week.

June 9:

DAVID MUIR: We begin with that developing story that has huge implications for American jobs and American 401(k)s, with the world markets watching this so closely.

Late today, the bailout bombshell in Spain. That country now asking for up to $100 billion or more to stay afloat.

May 19:

DAVID MUIR: The President pushing through a stimulus plan here in the US. Europe pushing through austerity and deep cuts. We see what’s happening in the UK, sliding into another recession. Greece, on the brink. And, of course, our 401 (k)s  so connected to it all.

May 7:

DIANE SAWYER: And all across America this morning, people were bracing for the aftershock of a political earthquake overseas, upheaval which rattles the US economy. It reaches the US economy, reaching right into American 401 (k) s and ABC‘s David Muir tells us what happened and what happens next. David?

DAVID MUIR: Diane, good evening. You know when it comes to the economy, we now live in a very small world, which is why when voters speak across Europe, Americans, everyday investors looking to protect their 401 (k) s are now listening too.

On top of all this, it’s worth recalling an ABC piece from last November, which presented cushy Greek retirements as the reason American workers can’t retire. And those Greeks were wrecking investments too, as Sawyer explained:

If you were watching your stocks today, you saw a nosedive. The Dow down nearly 300 points, so, what changed? Well, blame it on the country of Greece, long criticized for being undisciplined, and now threatening American retirements.

We know that our corporate media system prioritizes the needs and interests of certain viewers (in this case, the roughly one-third of the American work force who have 401(k) plans). The outlets need to pretend that’s not really the way things work—the news is for everyone! But when you present political developments around the world primarily through the prism of how they affect well-to-do investors, you’re sort of giving away the game.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.