MSNBC Melodrama

I visited MSNBC’s site to see what it said about the Congressional hearings involving representatives from Goldman Sachs.  Here is a brief sample from the report (I have added bolding):

‘Lloyd Blankfein and other Goldman executives were lambasted by lawmakers for “unbridled greed” in an often-electric daylong showdown between Wall Street and Congress — with expletives frequently undeleted. Unrepentant, five present and two past Goldman officials unflinchingly stood by their conduct before a Senate investigatory panel and denied helping to cause the financial near-meltdown that turned into the worst recession since the Great Depression.

“Unfortunately, the housing market went south very quickly,” Blankfein told skeptical senators. “So people lost money in it.”‘

Wow: the writer gives us quite a mixture of metaphors and melodramatic language. We have a figurative beating (lambaste), greed embodied as  a horse (unbridled),  electricity (often, not always: other moments were more like natural gas perhaps), religion with sin (unrepentant), an absence of flinching while standing by (beside), and the nuclear language of “melt-down.”

Obviously, the piece is over-written, probably because the editors of the Web site want it that way–to create some kind of excitement. The effect on me is to create suspicion.  I suspect the hearings were chiefly a performance, with the appearance of scolding and the foreknowledge that the GS folks would lie and that Congress can’t do anything about the lying.

Senators got to perform for the home-crowd. Financial types got to pretend to be blameless.  A showdown?  Hardly. There was nothing at stake.  The squirt-gun fight at the Pretty Good Corral.

To repeat the quotation from Blankfein:

“Unfortunately, the housing market went south very quickly,” Blankfein told skeptical senators. “So people lost money in it.”‘

Notice the absence of agency.  The housing market, acting on its own, “went south,” toward the equator (from a Northern Hemispherical p.o.v.)  In this sense, “free market” means that the market exists separately from the actions of people in banks and investment firms.  Sometimes it just decides on its own to travel south.

That Blankfein is able to deny, without consequences,  any responsibility for what happened to the housing market is the buried lead of the story.  Yes, the Justice Department is looking into it.  How many of us believe Blankfein and/or others will ever suffer punishment?

And by the way, isn’t greed always unbridled–I mean, its being greed and all?  And please note that even if a horse is bridled, it can and may gallop at full speed.

As for MSNBC: perhaps it should stand for “Metaphors Should Now Be Controlled.”

And please see blogger the teeming brain’s discussion of the “meltdown.”

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