Sunday, March 15, 2009

Breaking "News" designed to break your wallet

It sure looks like the CNN studio. There's scrolling text along the bottom of the screen- usually something like "MORTGAGE MARKET REACHES ROCK BOTTOM, CREATES HUGE ADVANTAGE FOR BUYERS" but today it reads " $75 BILLION OBAMA MORTGAGE BAILOUT FUELS BUYER'S MARKET." There's the two very professional "news" people sitting at the desk, papers in hand, with stern, serious looks on their faces. Billy Mays isn't yelling at me. It looks for all the world like I am about to hear a breaking NEWS report.

But wait- there's something strange here. Where I would expect to see a stock market ticker, I see instead the words HUGE SAVINGS. In tiny words in the right hand corner, in white so that they almost blend into the background, I can make out the word "Advertisement." And in even smaller print at the bottom, I see many, many words, among which are "Advertisement," "Program," and "Real Estate System." But that's all drowned out by the earnest "news" people breathlessly giving me the reports that are "coming in" to the "studio" via "satellite:" The real estate market, combined with "Obama's Mortgage Bailout," makes this a perfect time to buy real estate- if I know how.

Thank goodness, this "news" break, which runs half an hour (Just like the real news!) has managed to contact a "Real Estate Expert," (again, via "Satellite") to give us the "scoop" on this breaking "news." The most hysterical moment comes when the "guest" tells the "reporter" that "I'm glad to be here today to clarify exactly what is happening out there, and how your viewers can take advantage of this..." Of course, this idiot is no "guest"- he's the guy who produced the program, bought the air time, and is now trying to sell you some scam Real Estate-For-Dummies "System."

Here's what really pisses me off about crap like this- first of all, there really are people out there dumb enough to believe that they are watching an actual NEWS program concerning the real estate crisis. After all, if you turn on CNN, MSNBC, etc. you'll see a story on just that topic every night. The average viewer could very well find himself thinking "well, gee, I've heard something about the mortgage crisis, and bailouts, and they mention Obama, so this must be the news." But dressing an Infomercial up to look like a news broadcast is beyond dishonest- it's manipulative. For all the criticism the news media gets for the lousy way it does it's job, people still assume a certain level of neutrality and honesty from the coverage they see. So when they see a guy on what they think is a "news" program hype some great real estate "opportunity," they think that the opportunity is more valid than if they knew what they were watching was an Infomercial.

Second, it's just so damned cheesy. Fake reporters in a fake studio surrounded by fake graphics featuring fake statistics as they talk to a fake guest. How do these clowns keep straight faces during the whole thing? I guess I should give them points for acting ability, anyway.

Finally- aren't we in enough economic trouble without selling commercial time to slugs like the these? The people most likely to respond to this manipulative junk are the ones who are already in trouble and desperately looking for a way out. Like EZ-Cash and Credit Card Counseling services, these guys are just preying on the people who can least afford to be separated from any more of their cash. Tricking them into thinking that they are watching a legit news broadcast is just base and cruel. I really wonder how some of these pigs can sleep at night.

Meanwhile, its only a matter of time before we see fake sports scores and other "news" scrolling across the bottom of the screen, to make it look even more authentic. To avoid lawsuits, probably something along the lines of "Home Team Beats Visitors, 8-7 in Extra Innings" or "Hollywood Stars Divorce, Details to Come." You can set your watch to it. These guys have ZERO shame.

1 comment:

  1. Right on. As far as I'm concerned, the disclaimers at the beginning and end of the half hour infomercials aren't enough. These bogus "news" ads don't even give the networks that run them even that thin veneer of deniability. I say ban them in the interest of truth.