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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

How The Media Makes Its Points

The other day, a friend of mine mentioned that President Trump was suddenly considering "breaking up the big banks".  It was a surprising statement, since this fellow is usually up on current news.  The day before we had this conversation, Trump had said in an interview that his administration was reviewing whether or not it made sense to bring back some version of the old Glass Steagle Law that barred commercial and investment banking by the same company.  This review by the administration is part of the overall effort to examine the Dodd-Frank Law which imposes extremely onerous regulations on financial institutions.  Dodd-Frank place so much regulatory restriction on banks that essentially no new banks have been started since the law passed and small banks have been unable to make as many loans as they did prior to passage.  The result has been that credit for small businesses has been severely restricted and economic growth has been prevented.  Trump's statement in the interview was nothing new; he said the same thing many times during the campaign.  Trump is not proposing that big banks be broken up, although the effect of a new Glass Steagle type restriction would force a few large banks to split into two.

So where did the idea that Trump was now considering "breaking up the big banks" come from?  I knew the answer.  I had heard media reports that started with just that line.  I had also seen a few headlines in some of the anti-Trump media that said the same thing.  It was Fake News at worst, but at it was at least a ridiculous exaggeration.

I relate this story because it shows just how pervasive the power of the media really is.  They took a story which distorts reality and gave it a lot of coverage.  People who don't know all that much about it, hear the story or read the headline and absorb the message.  Even those who should know better absorb the message.  It's insidious.

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