Fortunately, the media, typically tasked with inflaming tense situations as much as possible, has agreed to shift the focus in the other direction for a while. Fresh on the heels of very serious and very determined corrections to avoid the wrath of Andrew Cuomo's financial thought police, the New York Times covers the emergent phenomenon, which, like most stories in the media about the media, gives the media high marks for restraint and Newspeakness.
"We're very careful not to throw words around like 'meltdown' and 'free fall,' " said Ali Velshi, senior business correspondent at CNN. "If someone wants to say the markets are in free fall, we'll discuss it first," he said, and the outcome is most likely to be a change in wording.
CNN isn't the only sterling provider of quality financial news that is thumbing the scale a little bit in favor of totally panicked and totally-on-the-brink-of-collapse firms.*
" 'Crash,' 'panic,' 'pandemonium,' 'apocalypse,' those are the words we're staying away from," said Robert H. Christie, a spokesman for The Wall Street Journal, now part of the News Corporation.
Even the sleeveless one gets kudos.
"I want to caution everybody," said the on-air editor, Charles Gasparino. He said several times that the tip came from "Wall Street sources," not the government, adding, "We have yet to get a confirmation from the Treasury Department."
Uh, no comment.
Of course, this wouldn't be an article from the New York Times, if it didn't discuss the New York Times.
Early this month, a New York Times article described Lehman as "ailing" and "precarious," but did not explicitly mention the possibility of failure or bankruptcy.
I smell a Pulitzer.
Amid Market Turmoil, Some Journalists Try to Tone Down Emotion [New York Times]
* Not that we are suggesting any firms at all are experiencing any dip or drop or depression or temporary slowdown or anything whatsoever that might bring them the slightest bit closer to anything resembling failure or the like. Kay. Thanks.