In their continuing effort to cast the economy as “Wall Street versus Main Street ,” many in the media have criticized the proposed $700 billion bailout of financial institutions as rewarding “fat cats” who made bad investments.
But CNBC host Maria Bartiromo said on the Sept. 30 NBC “Today” show the bailout was about average Americans and government officials haven’t done a good job of explaining it.
“The truth is that [Treasury Secretary] Hank Paulson needs to communicate that this is not a bailout for the fat cats on Wall Street, that this is about the availability of credit,” Bartiromo told “Today” host Ann Curry in a segment from the New York Stock Exchange.
“Credit is very tight; we need that to be loosened so that the small business can make payroll, so that, like I said, the guy can get a car loan,” Bartiromo said. “The availability of credit keeps the system functioning properly and that’s what we need again.”
She said the bailout would help loosen credit, affecting Americans’ ability to get loans at banks cross the country.
“This is not about Wall Street firms down here,” Bartiromo said. “This is about banks across the country, branches everywhere in our country. And yes, it is about the availability of credit. We need to have loans going out, consumers borrowing again, so that the system functions properly. Without a bailout, without some loosening of all of these bad assets that are currently sitting on the books of these major banks, it’s very hard to see how the system gets back on track and functions properly.”
Bartiromo has previously called for more moderated coverage of economic issues, suggesting in February  that overly negative media reports about financial problems could drive the country into a recession by diminishing consumer confidence.
When Curry quoted “people” calling the Sept. 29 777-point drop in the Dow an “economic 9/11,” Bartiromo turned the discussion away from hyperbole and back toward the real issues.
“Well, ‘economic 9/11,’ look, it was a stunning fall yesterday, there’s no doubt about it,” she said. “And investors were reacting to the fact that we are looking at a very, very slow economy. Ann, this is about the availability of credit. This is about the guy who needs a car loan, the gal who needs a home equity loan.”