Bankers exult: Free at last, free at last

Citigroup and Wells Fargo announce plans to repay TARP funds. Their long national nightmare is almost over

By Andrew Leonard
December 15, 2009 8:47PM (UTC)
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A generally informative Wall Street Journal article on plans by Citigroup and Wells Fargo to pay back their TARP bailout funds starts with some odd framing: (italics mine)

Citigroup Inc. and Wells Fargo & Co. won agreements to begin extracting themselves from the U.S. government's grip by paying back a total of $45 billion in aid, marking a major milestone in the year-long effort to rescue the American financial system.

Grip? Doesn't that imply some kind of firm embrace? Some kind of pressure applied by the entity in question? And doesn't the formulation "extracting themselves" conjure up images of efforts to get out of a romantic relationship gone horribly sour? While How the World Works does not subscribe to Matt Taibbi-levels of paranoia about the White House's relationship to Wall Street, it does strain credulity to describe the Obama administration's treatment of the banks as "tough" or with any another adjective implying the significant exertion of force. President Obama's mild observation on Monday that the banks "now have a greater obligation to the goal of a wider recovery, a more stable system and more broadly shared prosperity" does not bring to mind the image of a stern taskmaster. We should all be so lucky to have romantic partners who shower us with cash, ask little in return, and gracefully agree to depart the scene once their caresses are no longer appreciated.


The phrasing, which the Journal repeated in the coverline on its home page, seems to me pretty good evidence of right-wing bias seeping out from the editorial pages into the news coverage, which is exactly what we all feared when Rupert Murdoch took over, and precisely what the New York Times' David Carr described yesterday in his column, "Under Murdoch, Tilting Rightward at The Journal".

Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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Bank Bailouts Bank Reform How The World Works Rupert Murdoch Wall Street