NBC, CBS Criticize Banks for Overdraft Fees That Customers Request

Banks are bad because they make a profit on things requested by their customers, according to both NBC and CBS. The two networks highlighted a study released June 11 by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau [CFPB] that said banks made $12.6 billion in overdraft fees and non-sufficient funds from bounced checks in 2011. Though only 20 percent of customers actually opt-in for overdraft protection, NBC called these fees “one of the most common financial mistakes Americans make.”

Anchor Lester Holt opened the segment with alarmist, accusatory language: “A government report out today makes it clear just how much this country’s banks are profiting from your mistakes. We’re talking about those hefty overdraft charges when checking accounts are overdrawn. Well it turns out the banks are now making most of their fees from these penalties.”

On CBS' “Evening News with Scott Pelley,” anchor Pelley also dramatized the costs saying bank customers were “paying a small fortune in overdraft fees.” The CFPB reported that the average fee for customers who incurred overdraft and NSF fees was just $225 in 2011.

NBC also quoted the CFPB’S Richard Cordray: “We’re concerned that the complexity of overdraft practices mean that consumers may not be able to anticipate and avoid unnecessary charges.”

The CFPB has often taken President Obama’s side against the banking industry. Cordray was even unconstitutionally appointed by Obama to the bureau the beginning of 2012. The major networks have followed suit, with ABC’s Diane Sawyer even calling Cordray a “consumer champion” after his appointment.

Of course, blaming businesses for personal financial woes is nothing new for the media. It’s more popular to excuse individual responsibility and make large businesses pay for it instead.

Kristine Marsh
Kristine Marsh
Kristine Marsh is a staff writer/analyst for the Media Research Center's Culture and Media Institute.