Would We Have Survived the Great Depression if the 24×7 News Cycle Had Existed Then?

For the beast that is the 24×7 news cycle, these are the good, old days. The pundits, empty suits and talking heads have more doom and gloom content than they know what to do with.

They just ADORE issuing news alerts as the market once again tanks. They ADORE leading their morning newscasts with stories such as the one today about a California financial planner who killed his family members before turning the gun on himself. And, they’ll occasionally “balance” their hysterics with oh-so-obvious tips from money management experts.

It’s non-stop and it’s almost universally negative. Which got me wondering: how would FDR have dealt with the 24×7 media beast in the depths of The Great Depression? Would his first 100 days of legislation have been second guessed? Would CNN have criticized his “alphabet” solution of public works programs aimed at Fdr_fireside_chat_march_1933putting Americans back to work, describing it as nothing more than a “band-aid” approach? Would Fox have slammed his creation of the FDIC as the “wrong remedy at the wrong time?” Would CNBC have aired endless cell phone videos of stockbrokers jumping to their deaths? And, would People Magazine have capped it all off by running a cover photo of a wheelchair-bound president entitled, “A Crippled President for a Crippled Economy’?

The mind shudders at what might have been. I don’t think it’s too far-fetched to say we might never have climbed out of the Depression if cable news had been around at the time.

I firmly believe the media helped exacerbate today’s dilemma. Sure, they didn’t cause the mortgage crisis or credit crunch but, man, do they love to fan the flames.

Let’s be thankful the 24×7 media beast didn’t exist during The Great Depression. If it had, FDR might have said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself (and continuous and irresponsible news coverage).”

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