Foreclosures Up: ABC, CBS Blame Lenders

     CBS and ABC heaped blame on lenders, rather than borrowers after a stock market slide yesterday was spurred by new home foreclosure numbers. Both networks lamented the problems of borrowers rather than blame them for taking out high-risk loans.

     According to CBS “Evening News” about 8 percent of subprime borrowers are three months behind in payments or are facing foreclosure. “World News with Charles Gibson” on ABC reported that there are 900,000 homes in foreclosure right now.

     The “Evening News” quoted Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller who called high-risk subprime loans “unfair” and “unwise and unsafe,” during the March 13 program. Reporter Anthony Mason told viewers that Miller is “calling for tougher standards for lenders.”

     Keeping with the CBS tradition of presenting negative economic news as looming disaster, Mason followed up one industry analyst’s forecast of a possible housing-led recession with this statement:

     “But at the very least, Josh Rosner [the analyst] says the housing market has 12 to 36 months of difficult times ahead.”

     “World News with Charles Gibson” on March 13 also blamed lenders, but took pity on families “fighting to hold on.” Reporter David Muir complained that, “Mortgage companies were lending to people with questionable credit,” before interviewing a couple struggling to make their payments.

     There was also talk of regulation during “World News”

     Neither CBS, nor ABC included any response from a lending organization.

     In contrast, the NBC “Nightly News” report by Maria Bartiromo of CNBC was not overly-dramatic and included the concept of personal responsibility.

     “Remember, we’ve had a very easy lending environment for several years now. People took out loans who probably couldn’t afford them,” said Bartiromo.

     She did explain the worry that housing troubles may “bleed into the broader economy,” but said so far that has not happened. Bartiromo even had some cheerful news to report from a new CNBC poll.

     “71 percent of those people surveyed say their standard of living is either meeting or exceeding their own expectations,” said Bartiromo adding, “a full 60 percent of those invested think that the stock market will actually go up this year.