Coverage of Jamie Dimon’s Comments Ignores his Troubling Political Goals

Last Wednesday, JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon told a private audience that he could beat President Trump in the 2020 presidential election and that he is just as “tough” and “smarter” than Trump.

The comments spread like wildfire on Twitter and were instantly circulated among news outlets. When Dimon retracted his comments less than an hour later and dismissed them as off-the-cuff remarks, the media frenzy surrounding his challenge of Trump didn’t fade away as would be expected, but grew more raucous instead.

ABC’s Rebecca Jarvis, who moderated the initial event where Dimon challenged Trump, gave Dimon additional airtime on Sunday during a follow up interview. When asked if he felt the major banks had done enough to expedite economic recovery after the 2008 recession, Dimon initially skirted the issue by calling the question “unfair” but then distinguished between JP Morgan Chase and other banks “who caused the problem.”

CNBC, the outlet that first published the full transcript of Dimon’s comments, continued its coverage with an article covering odds for various billionaires who may choose to run in 2020.

The undue fascination with Dimon’s comments peaked with Chris Cillizza’s article published Thursday, which featured multiple paragraphs analyzing how Dimon constructed his attack on Trump and what Dimon and other members of the “elite business set” may privately think of Trump.

Cillizza went as far as to explain the frustration with Trump’s election that may have led Dimon to conclude he could run for the presidency as well, likening the thought process to jealousy over an inferior high school baseball teammate being drafted by a major-league team.

According to a July 2017 article by Columbia Journalism Review, Cillizza is one of CNN’s most prolific columnists. His most trafficked column boasted over three million unique visitors while most of his other pieces average between one to two million unique visitors. His newsletter, The Point, saw 10,000 new subscribers in that month and was, as of mid-2017, CNN’s second most popular.

With as much reach as Cillizza has, devoting some of the column to exploring the real questions surrounding the supposed animus between Dimon and Trump would have greatly increased public knowledge on the subject.

For instance, back in January 2017, CNBC reported that Dimon had declared Trump’s presidency to be a “moment of opportunity” for Wall Street. On Sunday, Dimon echoed these sentiments by attributing Trump’s attempts at deregulation and tax cut legislation to high “consumer and business confidence.”

In February 2017, Trump said there was “nobody better” than Dimon to tell him about the perils of Dodd-Frank, the bipartisan legislation crafted in 2010 to enforce stricter rules on reckless lending after 2008.

Most troubling is perhaps Dimon’s 2013 meeting with Senator Elizabeth Warren, when he lambasted Senate Democrats for over regulating his bank and imposing “burdensome rules.” When Warren said that noncompliance with those rules was illegal, Dimon allegedly challenged her to “hit [him] with a fine,” and said his bank could “afford it.”

Just five years after JP Morgan Chase was hit with record fines for risky lending, including a $2.6 billion settlement to address allegations that it ignored warning signs of Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, investors are again lending to risky companies.

In a startling new New York Times piece, Matt Phillips and Karl Russell remind us that the disastrous 2008 recession was exactly a decade ago this past week. They don’t just warn that the financial crisis is “fading into history,” but that the “roots” of the next recession are rapidly forming.

If we are not to be caught totally unprepared for a future crash, it is prudent that the media play its crucial role of informing and reminding the public of the slippery slope that led to the 2008 recession. Coverage of Jamie Dimon’s presidential ambitions should be accompanied by coverage of his bank’s role in financial scandals.

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