Six months late, it’s 60 Minutes

I have been asked why I disdain the traditional media. My answer is usually some variation on themes of inaccuracy and obsolescence. A perfect example of the latter is today’s coverage by 60 Minutes of the ongoing housing troubles; an exposé they could have done six months ago about a crisis obvious a few years ago. Fret not, I cite this coverage for an altogether different reason.

60 Minutes is an investigative news-zine that will be 40 years old this autumn. Their audience is the salt of the earth, the older generations that vote regularly and know what a savings bond is. In House of Cards, the ideas presented are thus:

  • People otherwise able to pay their mortgages will not, simply because their house is not what it was. Defaulting as a business tactic was heretofore limited to the likes of businesses and Donald Trump, now it’s for everyone.
  • The scale of the problem; the proper unit to use is “trillion with a t” and the presence of now worthless securities lurking in banks and pension funds.

As a commenter on Calculated Risk put it,

“60 Minutes” is at best middle-of-the-road investigative reporting. It’s not Uncle Walter. But it does have a certain credibility with Middle America. If “60 Minutes” carries the story — well, could be something of an Uncle Walter moment. A tipping point, at least in the mindset of a good portion of Middle America that wasn’t paying attention.

– Bob Dobbs, on Calculated Risk

(And if you don’t know who Uncle Walter is, ask your parents!)

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