Commentary

Former HHS Secretary Says Financial Literacy of Americans is “Very Low” – TV Networks Avoid Coverage

by FinancialCorps, 10 February 2015

Financial-Literacy-Sebelius

The decision by major television networks to avoid covering remarks attacking the intelligence of Americans is nothing new. The latest example has hit headlines in the last few weeks, sparked by comments from former Obama administration Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who said that many Americans “have no idea what insurance is about” and “the financial literacy of a lot of people” can be regarded as “very low.”

While the comments spurred lightening rod debate both within and outside of financial literacy circles, none of the major broadcast networks covered the remarks in their newscasts. The avoidance of this type of coverage by the networks has become somewhat of a pattern. A few examples are illustrative.

In October 2013, Jonathan Gruber, an MIT economics professor who more recently became known for his involvement with Obama’s Affordable Care Act, said that “the stupidity of the American voter” was “really, really critical” to getting Congress to enact the health care legislation in 2010. But the major television networks did not cover those remarks.

Similarly, a year earlier in 2012, Gruber remarked that the passage of the “Cadillac tax,” which is designed to penalize consumers with the most expensive health insurance, was accomplished in part by the “basic exploitation of the lack of economic understanding of the American voter.” But again, this was not picked up by the major television networks.

The current debate centers on both advantages and disadvantages of reporting more widely these attacks on American financial literacy, or the lack thereof. Let us know what you think by sending us your comments here.


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