Yesterday, Good Morning America featured a story explaining how you buy a house for half price. They kept touting it as half-off or 50% off. Except it wasn’t. At one point they did explain that the homes were 50% from their last sold price at the real estate peak. But that doesn’t mean the house is half-off. That means it reached an unreasonable price and is now being sold at an appropriate price. GMA’s claim is no different than a department store doubling the price of an item on Monday, and then putting it on sale for 50% off on Tuesday. They’re still selling it for the regular price!

Stop Lying in Headlines and Ads
And that brings me to the thing that makes me stabby: lying in news headlines. I understand they’re trying to get ratings, but don’t repeat a blatantly misleading claim in a segment that is supposedly about saving money. Homes are not 50% off what they once were. They are now selling for a price the market can support.  You could only say a home was half off if the exact same house on the exact same block was selling for double the price of this home. That would probably indicate, however, that the severely discounted home had major issues.

I’ve seen other financial headlines pull shenanigans like that. For example, an article about a family cutting their expenses by 50% usually reveals that the family ate out every night, owned three cars even though only two people drove, and regularly purchased overpriced, big-ticket items. Sure, they can cut their expenses by 50% simply by switching to common-sense spending, but most of us don’t go to those extremes and can’t expect to see similar results.

Those H&R Block refund review ads that tout people getting an additional $8000 back on their taxes also irk me. If you’re getting an $8000 refund a few years after you filed your taxes, it’s not because H&R Block was able to “find” money. It’s because you filed your taxes incorrectly in the first place, and didn’t take the appropriate deductions that you were entitled to. And you were probably withholding too much money. I would question whether any of the people in these ads used tax prep software to file their taxes or did them by hand. I strongly suspect it’s the latter.

Frankly, it’s becoming very frustrating to watch or read news. Ads have always been annoying, and I expect some lying there, but it seems like the news shows and networks are so desperate for ratings that they’ll stretch the truth to get eyeballs. The news should always tell the truth. It is, after all, the news.


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