SVB newspaper and cable coverage

Andrea Austria / Media Matters

Research/Study Research/Study

Most mainstream coverage of SVB’s collapse did not include mentions of Congress’ 2018 bank deregulation

Only 22% and 26% of mainstream newspaper articles and cable segments mentioned deregulation, respectively

In their coverage of Silicon Valley Bank’s collapse, The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, the Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the cable networks CNN and MSNBC largely did not explain how the bank was impacted by 2018 banking deregulation actions taken by the Trump administration.

78% of print articles and 74% of cable segments did not mention banking regulation in their coverage of SVB. The newspapers also mostly neglected to mention how GOP members voted on the 2018 deregulations when quoting them.

  • The sudden collapses of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank have brought the 2018 rollback of banking reforms back into the public eye. That year, in a bipartisan vote supported by then-President Donald Trump, 67 senators and 258 representatives agreed to undo parts of the Dodd-Frank act, a 2010 bill that added new regulations for financial institutions in an attempt to prevent another financial crisis like the one in 2008. Major changes in 2018, which came after SVB and other midsized banks lobbied for regulatory relief, included increasing the asset threshold for banks subject to enhanced regulations from $50 billion to $250 billion.

    Though the 2018 deregulation of banks may not have been entirely to blame for SVB’s collapse, financial experts argue that oversight still could have prevented or mitigated the failure. Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) have both released statements calling out Trump for his role in undoing the banking regulations.

    From March 10, the day of SVB’s collapse, through March 20, Media Matters found that of a collective 96 articles on the collapse published by the top five U.S. newspapers by circulation:

    • Only 21 of those 96 articles (22%) mentioned the 2018 banking deregulation actions taken by the Trump administration.
    • The Wall Street Journal, which published more articles than any of the top papers on the collapse, mentioned deregulation in only 3 of 34 articles (9%). In the 8 articles that USA Today published about SVB, only 1 had any context about banking deregulation under Trump.
    • Out of 16 articles that quoted Republicans who voted for the 2018 banking deregulation, only 3 articles mentioned that the Republican source in question had voted yes on rolling back Dodd-Frank regulations. Thus 81% of articles with quotes from Republicans who voted yes in 2018 failed to mention their voting histories.
    • Both The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal failed to mention GOP voting history in any of their 6 combined articles that quoted a GOP member who voted for the deregulation.

    Over the same period, Media Matters found that of the 538 Silicon Valley Bank failure segments on CNN and MSNBC:

    • Only 141 (26%) included mentions of the 2018 banking deregulation actions taken during the Trump administration.
    • CNN provided context on the efforts to deregulate banking in 20% of its 330 segments on the SVB collapse.
    • MSNBC shows were more likely to include mentions about banking deregulation, with 74 of its 208 segments (36%) on the SVB collapse mentioning deregulation.
    • All 6 segments on MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes provided sufficient context on the 2018 banking regulations, making it the sole show with more than 2 SVB segments across both channels to include context for all discussion.
  • Methodology

  • Media Matters searched print articles in the Factiva database from the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and USA Today for any of the terms “SVB,” “Silicon Valley Bank,” “Dodd-Frank,” “Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation,” or “FDIC” or either of the terms “regulation” or “deregulation” in the same headline or lead paragraph as any variation of the term “bank” from March 10, 2023, when Silicon Valley Bank collapsed, through March 20, 2023.

    We also searched transcripts in the SnapStream video database for all original programming on CNN and MSNBC for any of the terms “SVB,” “Silicon,” “Valley,” or “Bank” from March 10, 2023, through March 20, 2023.

    We included articles, which we defined as instances when the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank was mentioned in the headline or lead paragraph.

    We also included segments, which we defined as instances when the collapse was the stated topic of discussion or when we found significant discussion of the failure. We defined significant discussion as instances when two or more speakers in a multitopic segment discussed SVB's collapse with one another.

    We reviewed all identified articles for whether they mentioned the 2018 banking deregulations, quoted Republicans, or quoted Democrats. For articles with quoted members of Congress who voted for the 2018 banking deregulation, we reviewed said articles for whether they mentioned that legislator’s vote. We considered independents who caucused with Democrats as Democrats.

    We also reviewed all identified segments for whether any speaker mentioned the 2018 banking deregulation.