'World News' Criticizes Faith-Based Financial Adviser for Being Anti-Debt

     Striving to pay down debt might sound like a good idea, but to ABC “World News,” it means “radical belt-tightening.”

     The February 3 “World News Sunday” featured the financial advice of Howard Dayton. Dayton incorporates Scripture into his advice and says it’s Biblical to get out of debt as soon as possible. But ABC “World News Sunday” anchor Dan Harris described that as “radical.” According to the report, Dayton has 2 million weekly listeners and urges everyone to give 10 percent to his or her local church.

     “Dayton urges families to pay them [debts, including mortgages] off as quickly as possible, even if it involves radical belt tightening – advice the Pruitt family is following,” Harris said.

     “When the money’s gone, you know, we just wait for payday,” Dayton follower Kristin Pruitt said. “Eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches,” her husband added.

     But for many Americans with credit cards, waiting for payday isn't the norm. And ABC assured those people that they weren't the "radical" ones.


     “You can be financially responsible and still have a significant amount of debt,” financial planner Lewis Altfest said. “As long as you can deal with it on a monthly basis, you’re gonna be okay.”

     Though Dayton said you should pay down your debt, Harris clarified that he doesn' t say being in debt is a sin.

     “No, it’s not a sin,” Dayton said “But it’s a principle of life that we should seek to get out of debt as quickly as we can.”

     ABC has been erratic with its stories involving consumer debt. According to a Business & Media Institute study, "Debt: Who’$ Responsible?” ABC News was subpar when it came to the issue of personal responsibility. A segment from March 2006 downplayed the role of the consumer in taking on financial obligations.

     “We call it the American nightmare,” homeowner Amy Wood told ABC “World News with Charles Gibson” on March 26, 2007, in a story about rising foreclosures in Concord, N.C. It attacked lenders and virtually ignored the idea that borrowers might have some personal responsibility for their own mistakes. It was part of a series ABC entitled “The Home Wreckers.”

     “World News” sent viewers a conflicting message later in its broadcast – showcasing big spenders in Arizona for the Super Bowl on February 3, referring to them as “free-spending, fun-seeking out-of-towners.” It included a group of four who spent $67,000 on first-class airfare, hotel and game tickets. Area homes were described renting for $250,000 a week.