Finance Bill Bad—Oops, Too Late

Reading Time: 2 minutes An article about financial reform legislation seems too little, too late—and points out the need for better journalism in this area. Headlined “Senate Financial Bill Misguided, Some Academics Say,” this New York Times article of May 3 was buried on Page A16 of the paper edition, and easily missable on the website. Note the warning Read More

A Fresh Wind

Reading Time: 3 minutes Traditional journalism organizations as a matter of practice eschew and even sometimes demonize the work of independent journalists who document apparent high-level collusion against the broader public interest.  “Conspiracy theory,” they sniff. Yet with the fast-changing media landscape, even the most cautious enterprises are suddenly suffused with the spirit of the muckrakers, who were unafraid Read More

The Post-Journalism Era?

Reading Time: 3 minutes The Washington Post has great reporters, but as a journalistic institution, it has been strikingly sympathetic to the ruling establishment. Over the decades, reporters there have complained repeatedly about how their efforts to break out of an emerging consensus have been stymied, overtly or more subtly. See for example pages 223-226 in Kristina Borjesson’s book Read More

“Individual Liberty” = Hidden Corporate Interests = Dodgy Amazon Reviews

Reading Time: 3 minutes Too seldom do we get advance notice of what corporate interests are up to in the political arena—doings that are too often masked, sometimes hidden behind a staged “citizen uprising”. That’s why it’s good to see this piece in the New York Times: Like about a dozen other states, Florida is debating a proposed amendment Read More

Fix The Economy? Toss The GDP

Reading Time: < 1 minute WhoWhatWhy Advisory Board member Jonathan Rowe explains why we need a whole new way of measuring the health of the economy. One reason that the nation has not made more progress toward an economic “recovery” is that the people in charge really don’t know what one would look like. The top economists in Washington don’t Read More

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A Number That’s Nobody’s Business

Reading Time: 2 minutes Here’s an odd thing: the muscular US Chamber of Commerce, long a force for extreme big-business values, fighting off universal health insurance, minimum wage increases, global warming action and the like, is actually much smaller than it makes itself out to be. According to Mother Jones reporter Josh Harkinson, the Chamber, aided and abetted by news Read More

Credit Where Credit Ain’t Due

Reading Time: 2 minutes Two large debit-card issuers have suddenly decided to clean up their acts in the face of pending legislative action against them. The bigger question is: what’s to prevent them from pulling a bait and switch, first voluntarily revising their rapacious practices and then, when the threat of legislation dies down, ramping those practices right back Read More

Lack of Mercury Reporting is Fishy

Reading Time: 2 minutes On August 20, while scanning the New York Times the old-fashioned way, i.e. on paper, I stopped to look at a small article, no bigger than a long paragraph, tucked away in a column full of short items called “National Briefing.” The headline read: “Mercury Found in Every Fish Tested, Scientists Say”. I stopped to Read More

A Well-Oiled Crowd Balks at Climate Fix

Reading Time: 2 minutes The New York Times has a surprisingly direct, no-hedging, exposé of oil industry shenanigans designed to block climate change legislation. For once, it is crystal clear to readers what is going on—the oil industry is rallying workers whose (understandable) immediate concerns do not extend beyond continuing to earn a living, to . . . preserving Read More

A Deadly Health Care Rumor

Reading Time: < 1 minute The other day, the New York Times got around to a bit of investigation into the origins of false information about health insurance reform. But just a bit—not nearly enough. The stubborn yet false rumor that President Obama’s health care proposals would create government-sponsored “death panels” to decide which patients were worthy of living seemed Read More

The Importance of Whistleblowers

Reading Time: 2 minutes In the New York Daily News, columnist Stanley Crouch stresses the significance of health insurance p.r. executive Wendell Potter’s defection to the health care reform movement. Potter is now working with the Center for Media and Democracy to counter industry propaganda and reveal the internal workings of the business. Whistleblowers are indispensable in the battle Read More

The Blue Dogs: Best Friends of Big Business

Reading Time: 4 minutes [Updates below – Ed.] As the Obama administration attempts to overhaul the nation’s health care, energy, and financial sectors, it faces the growing leverage of the Blue Dog Coalition—the conservative, fifty-two-member faction of the House’s Democratic caucus—to moderate, or obstruct, its goals. The Center for Public Integrity (CPI) recently published an investigation into the Blue Read More

Conflicts of Interest, and the Appearance Thereof

Reading Time: 3 minutes There was a time when the mere appearance of a conflict of interest was sufficient to rule out certain media practices. That time seems to have long passed. Take, for example, the alleged pay-for-play scandal at the American Conservative Union. The organization offered FedEx lobbying support in a labor dispute for a $2–3 million fee, Read More

Doddering and Dithering on Financial Reform

Reading Time: 3 minutes The New York Times reports on the formidable resistance in Congress to Obama’s efforts to, among other things, create a new consumer protection agency to cover credit cards, mortgages, and other poorly-regulated financial products. It cites . . . significant criticism from the financial services industry and its allies in Congress. Earlier this week, senior Read More

Opinions to the Highest Bidder

Reading Time: 2 minutes The American Conservative Union describes itself as “the nation’s oldest and largest grassroots conservative lobbying organization” devoted to, among other conservative ideals, “a market economy.” For the ACU, it seems, everything should be determined by market forces—including what policies it should support. Politico’s Mike Allen has caught the organization in an embarrassing pay-for-play scandal: The Read More

Did Goldman Sachs Manipulate Markets?

Reading Time: 2 minutes [Update below – Ed.] Over Independence Day weekend, Sergey Aleynikov, a former Goldman Sachs computer programmer, was arrested by the FBI for allegedly stealing the firm’s high-speed stock- and commodities-trading programming code and uploading it to an unidentified Web server in Germany. At Aleynikov’s July 4 bail hearing, Joseph Facciponti, an assistant U.S. Attorney, told Read More

Florida Regulators Aided and Abetted Stanford

Reading Time: 2 minutes The Miami Herald published a long investigative piece about how Sir Allen Stanford, whose Antigua-based banking empire has been shut down as a massive fraud, was able to open a Miami branch in 1998 free from regulatory oversight, with the approval of Florida banking regulators. Stanford got his regulatory-free branch—one of his most lucrative franchises—despite Read More

In Defense of Lobbyists

Reading Time: 2 minutes In the days after the November election, Obama’s advisers announced “the strictest, and most far reaching ethics rules of any transition team in history.” These rules included a ban on lobbyists joining the new administration. Why would political ethics demand such a prohibition? According to Obama’s transition team, the new policy sought to curb the Read More

More on Protecting Monopolies

Reading Time: < 1 minute The New Haven Independent reports that Sen. Joe Lieberman (D – CT) is leading a coalition of “centrists” and “moderates” against a public option for healthcare—a government-run health plan that would compete with private insurers. As we recently discussed, the public option is supported by about three-quarters of the public, who, in the terms of Read More