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Media Pundits Star in the Theater of the Absurd By Robin Barnes

How much more speculation about the so-called dark underside of the French approach to the private lives of public figures can we expect?  One writer equated public perception of Dominique Strauss-Kahn and his sexually aggressive behavior with that of Michael Jackson in the US — as ‘sacred monsters’ – terrible, yet inviolate because of their importance on the world stage.”  Give me a break! We can only suppose that John Edwards will receive some sort of temporary reprieve, while the media and paparazzi (after hastening Elizabeth Edwards’ death) move on to tear Arnold Schwarzenegger’s family life to shreds.  Why does the public tolerate the circus?  

These stories and headlines could not more effectively divert attention from the important stories than if they had been purposefully designed to do so: they do it every time.  Consider these facts:

“As of mid-summer 2009, 20 financial giants each received at least $2 billion in TARP bailout funding.” Together these 20 firms “garnered $283 billion, far more than half the $487.8 billion TARP had committed to nearly 650 troubled firms.”

As these same financial institutions handed out millions in executive bonuses just months after the bailout, we were treated to wall-to-wall network and cable news coverage of Tiger Woods’ apology.  Full blown panels of “experts” assembled to discuss his level of sincerity, his spiritual beliefs, his mother’s disappointment, and the wife’s absence.

This week we learned that, “after paying CEO Vikram Pandit just $1 in compensation during the past two years, Citigroup is awarding its chief a $23.2 million retention package that could make him the highest-paid executive on Wall Street. Citigroup was bailed out twice by the U.S. government, and Pandit survived numerous calls for his firing. Last year, JPMorgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon was the highest-paid executive on Wall Street, earning $23.6 million.”

May 17, 2011 Huffington Post Exclusive: Five separate investigations were conducted by the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s inspector general, examining Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and Ally Financial.  Federal audit reports accuse the nation’s five largest mortgage companies of defrauding taxpayers in their handling of foreclosures on homes purchased with government-backed loans. The banks effectively cheated taxpayers by presenting the Federal Housing Administration with false claims: They filed for federal reimbursement on foreclosed homes that sold for less than the outstanding loan balance using defective and faulty documents.

Why the public feels moved to discuss anyone else’s sexual proclivities, and stand by to watch the press stalk and dig through every nuance of Maria Shriver’s life, rather than taking to the streets in support of Elizabeth Warren’s leadership of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and ongoing efforts to stabilize the economy, I confess, is beyond me.