NPR has an article from its "partner" Global Post about the "deep economic divide" between Greenwich, Connecticut and Bridgeport, Connecticut. It reads like something from Pravda back during the Cold War:
The distance between these two places is not much, about 20 miles, but the gulf that separates them often seems too great to navigate for many residents on both sides of the divide. The vastly different experience of growing up in either cannot be exaggerated. Bridgeport, with its dilapidated factories and graffiti-scarred public housing projects, is a world away from the half-dozen other affluent communities that line the Connecticut shoreline between them, such as Westport and New Canaan.
But the affluent enclave of Greenwich tops them all. Swimming in the wealth extracted from Wall Street, the hedge fund and private equity groups nestled in the downtown business districts anchor communities centered around lavish country clubs, colonial mansions and public schools that send dozens of children to the Ivy League each year.
All except Bridgeport, that is. To walk down Bridgeport's deserted Main Street, with its boarded up stores and hard-luck hotels, and then stroll down Greenwich Avenue later that day, is to experience different planets.
The crime rate is high in Bridgeport. Gun violence is a fact of life and too often death. ... Though there is crime on both sides of this county, the nature of lawbreaking seems different in Greenwich, where a series of high-profile white-collar crimes have been in the news.
Steven A. Cohen, founder of SAC Capital Advisors, is facing multiple insider-trading investigations into his $14 billion fund. His neighbor, Walter Noel, is the founder of a hedge fund, Fairfield Greenwich Group, that was the largest single beneficiary of the infamous Bernie Madoff fraud. It's a good bet some sleep was lost at the $10.8 billion mansion of Dick Fuld, former CEO of Lehman Brothers.
But for high-priced defense attorneys, a membership at the Greenwich Country Club and getaways to St. Barts can take the sting out of such things. For the residents of Bridgeport's Eastside, escape is not so easy.
Steven A. Cohen, Dick Fuld, and Walter Noel have not been charged with any crimes, much less convicted of them, so it's a bit reckless of NPR to describe them as figures in "high-profile white-collar crimes." As for whether the high-priced defense attorneys "take the sting out of such things," it's not clear how NPR knows this. Maybe it stings worse when you have a high-priced defense attorney, at least if you are the one paying the bill. And if it's the other members of the country clubs whose money you lost, it's not clear how that takes the sting out, either.
The line about "wealth extracted from Wall Street" is also an odd one. Was the wealth not earned? And does not hedge fund and private equity wealth come from investors, and investments, in many places beyond Wall Street?
The real laugh line of the article, though, comes at the end, in the author bio: "Michael Moran is a GlobalPost columnist as well as the director and editor-in-chief of Renaissance Insights at the investment bank Renaissance Capital." You know the alarm over income inequality has gone mainstream when an employee of a Greenwich-based "investment bank" writes an article like this.
I'm not suggesting that Bridgeport should be ignored, or that anyone should be callous about it. What I am suggesting is that NPR can try to do better than these sorts of cartoonish portrayals that don't break new ground so much as rehash existing stereotypes.