Media are the new bad boyfriend

Whether you are the supportive family member, friend, or the dedicated damsel herself, we all know the bad boyfriend repertoire.  The beginning romantic relationship is layered with sensationalized promises — until one day, an innocuous event leads to a steady drip of criticism, isolation, and division.  The heavy cloud of bad boyfriend deception portrays victims as perpetrators and perpetrators as victims within a crafty distortion of facts.  And we all know that if this behavior is done at one interval in the relationship, it will be done at others.  If Mr. Bad Boyfriend is out of pocket with no explanation for hours on a Saturday, his mysterious absence will happen on another day.  If he lies at letter A, he will lie at letter J.

Just as we have a right to reasonable caution toward other people, we all have reason to be cautious of our news and our news broadcasters.  From the origins of COVID to unintentional meetings on the tarmac to YouTube videos inciting murder, we know the news coverage repertoire.  The who, what, when, where, why, and how is now eclipsed with deliveries heavy on evocative phrases and light on facts, and very light on sources.  "Heard it from a source who heard it from a source who heard it from another" trumps investigations or even mere interviews with actual questions.  The result is confusion delivered with conviction.

One interval of deceit is the media's coverage of the student loan "bailout."  Instead of delivering news, the media are distorting a story by the use of emotions, partial facts, assumptions, and caricature personas.  The persona of the hardworking, fiscally responsible conservative versus the unkempt student loan borrower is the opening act of many recent broadcasts.  But why not just cover the story?  Especially when the broadcasters have Wall Street backgrounds and are on their own financial shows?  Why not report the math?  Unmentioned is the fact that federal student loans are remarkably different from other loans.  Many federal loans are compound loans, in which the interest is compounded daily.  Each day, the interest accrued for that day gets added to the principal, and then interest is calculated.  Each day.  Used car dealers don't have loans like these.  Loan sharks, smoking cigars and talking about the vig, don't compound interest that way.  Student loans are on par with Enron, the subprime mortgage crisis, and Obamacare (where MIT professor and Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber explained that the American people were too stupid to figure it out).  The banker's names stay the same, but the names of their shared LLCs change.  While student loans are sold and resold to new lenders, a Google search of the lenders shows the same names in the corporate structure.

Next come assumptions. Assumption one is that all student loan borrowers want the government to pay their loan.  Assumption two is that the only reason someone with student loan debt is making minimal payments is because he is failing to honor his responsibility.  Reporters lump all loans together, private and federal, along with all borrowers.  In lieu of actual reporting, newspeople take for granted that federal loans are designed honestly and structured in the same way as simple interest credit cards or car loans.

The bad boyfriend style of emotional monologue on a news show demonizing borrowers is followed with the personal persona style of monologues from the show hosts.  With deliveries that ought to be done under a spotlight, feet fixed firmly on a platform stage, perhaps hands in pockets to allow for ease when not gesturing à la Our Town, the host clears her throat, brushes back her long hair, and snarls before condemning "freeloading" borrowers.  She is more conservative; she is executing the conservative dance step of personal responsibility better than the borrower who must be lefty, careless, and mercenary.

Financial shows accustomed to charts and graphs show nothing about what actually transpired within the compound loans or the payments made by each student, some that far exceed the original principal.  These shows say nothing about the errors of the subprime mortgage loans and how relief was dispersed in the form of revamping the mortgage loan terms.  Though still a government-funded disaster, damage was mitigated by revamping terms, and not in the form of blanket forgiveness to all property-owners.  These homeowners were able to have interest readjusted.  Why not with student loans?  And, more importantly, if this news story is letter A, how can we except honest reporting at letter J?

Image: PxHere.

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