NBC Argues 'Clinton Years' Economy Better Than Current Economy

On Saturday's NBC Nightly News, while filing a story on the "mind-boggling" bonuses going to those who are "striking it rich" on Wall Street, correspondent Mike Taibbi downplayed the strength of the current economy in comparison to the "Clinton years," and also pointed out the "struggle" of "working Americans." While Taibbi argued that his reference to the "Clinton years" was a "chronological, not political distinction," he praised that period for "lifting more boats" while finding fault in the present. Taibbi: "But to many, today's version of the haves and have-nots feels different. In the boom of the Clinton years -- and I'm talking a chronological, not a political distinction -- the rising tide of that bull market truly did lift all boats, or at least a whole lot more of them." (Transcript follows)

Before a commercial break, NBC News anchor John Seigenthaler plugged the story on Wall Street's "holiday bonuses worth more than most Americans earn in a lifetime." After introducing the story about Wall Street "handing out the kind of bonuses most Americans can only dream about," Taibbi began his report. Taibbi relayed the "mind-boggling" bonuses of some on Wall Street, and then made reference to the 1987 movie Wall Street which had taken on corporate greed and corruption.

After playing a clip of Michael Douglas' character Gordon Gekko claiming that "greed is good," Taibbi continued: "But to many, today's version of the haves and have-nots feels different. In the boom of the Clinton years -- and I'm talking a chronological, not a political distinction -- the rising tide of that bull market truly did lift all boats, or at least a whole lot more of them."

The NBC correspondent then moved on to highlight the financial plight of a finance assistant who does not get bonuses as she complained of living "paycheck to paycheck." Taibbi elaborated: "Working Americans now pay more of their pension and health care costs; and food, fuel and service costs have risen faster than most salaries. That means even those who do get small bonuses still struggle."

After showing a clip of one man saying that his bonus would go toward "putting food on the table," Taibbi provided merely one soundbite to defend large bonuses in the form of Wall Street headhunter Brian Drum who argued that "you have to have that incentive."

Below is a complete transript of the story from the December 16 NBC Nightly News:

John Seigenthaler, before commercial break: "When NBC Nightly News continues this Saturday, striking it rich on Wall Street. Holiday bonuses worth more than most Americans earn in a lifetime."
...

Seigenthaler: "NBC News 'In Depth' tonight: Holiday bonuses. Big celebrations on Wall Street this week as companies handed out the kind of bonuses most Americans can only dream about. Here's some perspective: Most U.S. businesses -- 66 percent -- give no bonuses at all. Those employees lucky enough to receive a cash gift will get an average of $837. Compare that to the bonuses Goldman-Sachs gives out, a jackpot so big they could give every employee more than $600,000. But that's nothing compared to what some are actually getting. NBC's Mike Taibbi takes you behind the numbers 'In Depth.'"

Mike Taibbi: "It's bonus week on Wall Street, and the numbers are mind-boggling. Thousands of banking, investment and hedge fund pros getting from the low to the high six figures. One company, Goldman-Sachs, paying out over $16 billion in bonuses. And one executive, Morgan Stanley's CEO John Mack, getting $40 million -- and he won't be alone in that rare air. There are a lot of other CEOs making the same jump, says CNBC business guru Jim Kramer, by simply trading paper."

Jim Kramer, CNBC: "There is very little creation of business. There's creation of profits, but for the most part these brokerage houses just shuffle from one group of people who are rich to another group of people who are richer."

Taibbi: "Those big bonuses have triggered an impulse buyers' market for high-end property and possessions like the BMWs Paul Simon sells."

Paul Simon, car dealer: "It's almost like kids in a toy store. It's great to see."

Taibbi: "So what's new? Twenty years ago Gordon Gekko, in the movie Wall Street, sounded the mantra."

Michael Douglas, as Gordon Gekko from movie Wall Street: "Greed, for lack of a better word, is good."

Taibbi: "But to many, today's version of the haves and have-nots feels different. In the boom of the Clinton years -- and I'm talking a chronological, not a political distinction -- the rising tide of that bull market truly did lift all boats, or at least a whole lot more of them."

Gloria Rodriguez, finance assistant: "It's frustrating sometimes that you work so hard and you don't get anything."

Taibbi: "Most employees, including finance assistant Gloria Rodriguez, don't get bonuses."

Rodriguez: "You live paycheck by paycheck just to pay for mortgages, gas, electric, everything. Even food. Even school for the kids."

Taibbi: "Working Americans now pay more of their pension and health care costs; and food, fuel and service costs have risen faster than most salaries. That means even those who do get small bonuses still struggle."

Unidentified man: "With my holiday bonus, I'm going to put food on the table."

Taibbi: "Still, the bonuses are a way to keep score."

Brian Drum, Wall Street Headhunter: "There's always going to be somebody trying to figure out a way to make the big bucks, and I think that's part of the system. I say you have to have that incentive."

Taibbi: "And this year, that incentive includes bonuses 10 to 15 percent bigger than last year -- at least. Mike Taibbi, NBC News, New York."

Economy Wages & Prices NBC Nightly News


Sponsored Links