Category Archives: Media watch

Gillian Tett’s Astonishing Defense of Bank Misconduct

I don’t know what became of the Gillian Tett who provided prescient coverage of the financial markets, and in particular the importance and danger of CDOs, from 2005 through 2008. But since she was promoted to assistant editor, the present incarnation of Gillian Tett bears perilous little resemblance to her pre-crisis version. Tett has increasingly used her hard-won brand equity to defend noxious causes, like austerity and special pleadings of the banking elite.

Today’s column, “Regulatory revenge risks scaring investors away,” is a vivid example of Tett’s professional devolution.

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How Can We Measure Media Power?

The potential for political influence is what most people think of when they talk about the power of the media. A new media power index, proposed in this column, aggregates power across all platforms and focuses not on markets but on voters. It measures not actual media influence but rather its potential. Using the index, the author finds that the four most powerful media companies in the US are television-based and the absolute value of the index is high. This indicates that most American voters receive their news from a small number of news sources, which creates the potential for large political influence.

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New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, the Whale Oil Blog, and International Organized Crime

A new book is causing a stir in New Zealand. It’s called “Dirty Politics“. From the blurb:

Early in 2014 Nicky Hager was leaked a large number of email and online conversations from Cameron Slater’s Whale Oil blog. Many of these were between Slater and his personal allies on the hard right, revealing an ugly and destructive style of politics. But there were also many communications with the prime minister’s office and other Cabinet ministers in the National Government. They show us a side of Prime Minister John Key and his government of which most New Zealanders are completely unaware.

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Access Journalism, Agnotology, and Breeding for Elite Incompetence

There’s nothing quite like watching systems deliberately made worse, all in the name of better propaganda.

One rapidly escalating trend among officials and government agencies is making more and more information, including decades-old material, either impossible to obtain or accessible only to journalists who are “trusted,” meaning they are deferential to authority and will put the best possible spin on what they are fed.

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Ilargi: In The Lie Of The Beholder

Yves here. Ilargi uses strained messaging in response to recent market upsets, the Argentine default, and the failure of Banco Santo Espirito to address one of NC’s pet topics, propagandizing. Most people think of propaganda as the deliberate crafting of false or misleading messages, or the simple Big Lie. However, there’s also the variant of the deeply vested partisan. As Upton Sinclair stated, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” And a lot of those salaried-by-the-status-quo folks have access to media megaphones.

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Banks Scapegoat Regulations for More Costly Loans Post Crisis

Banks and their allies have been using every opportunity possible to blame regulations for changes in their business models after the crisis, particular if they can make it sound like the broader public, as opposed to their bottom lines, is what is suffering. Normally this messaging effort stays at the background noise level, but sometimes the lobbyists succeed in getting their message treated as a story in its own right.

A recent example is a Financial Times story early this week…

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Yellen Tells Whoppers to the New Yorker

A Nicholas Lemann profile of Janet Yellen in the New Yorker, based on interviews with her, is creating quite a stir, and for many of the wrong reasons. The article verges on fawning, but even after you scrape off the treacle, it’s not hard to see how aggressively and consistently the Fed chair hits her big talking point, that’s she’s on the side of the little guy. As correspondent Li put it:

She’s simultaneously Mother Teresa (spent her whole life caring about the poor without actually meeting any poor people) and Forrest Gump (present when all bad deregulatory polcies were made, but miraculously untainted by them).

Puh-lease! She’s Bernanke in a granny package, without the history lessons.

In fact, as we’ll discuss, Yellen’s record before and at the Fed shows she’s either aligned herself with banking/elite interests or played two-handed economist to sit out important policy fights. Even if she actually harbors concern for ordinary citizens, she’s never been willing to risk an ounce of career capital on it.

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New York Times Hit Piece on Tom Steyer and Fossil Fuel Divestment

Word came recently that both the Philadelphia Quakers and the Unitarian General Assembly have decided to divest from fossil fuels. It followed by a few weeks the news that the Roman Catholic University of Dayton and Union Theological Seminary, the home of many a great thinker, had done likewise.

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New York’s Schneiderman Accepts Red Cross’ “Trade Secrets” Excuse to Hide Sandy Spending

It’s not clear what to make of an attorney general who opens an investigation and then accepts lame excuses for maintaining secrecy from its target, in this case, the American Red Cross. We’re flagging this example because it exemplifies an effort by organizations to use “trade secrets” as a pretext for hiding more and more of their dealings with governments. This is absurd, since the premise of Federal and state Freedom of Information Act laws is that government records should be open to the public, and that includes records of entities doing business with government agencies. In other words, if you want to have government bodies as your customers, one of the costs of doing business is having your formal interactions with them subject to public review.

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New York Times Snipes at Neil Barofsky Yet Again

I was naive enough to think that the New York Times’ vendetta against former SIGTARP prosecutor Neil Barofsky was limited to bank propagandist Andrew Ross Sorkin and Administration mouthpiece Jackie Calmes, who penned a particularly ham-handed hit piece on Barofsky’s book Bailout.

It turns out the depth of loyalty of reporters at the New York Times is much deeper than I imagined. Ben Protess and Jessica Silver-Greenberg work hard to snigger and finger-wag at Barofsky for being about to land a plum assignment that will again make him a big bank nemesis: that of serving as monitor to miscreant Credit Suisse.

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Peter Van Buren: Taking Down the First Amendment in Post-Constitutional America

Van Buren continues his examination of what he calls the “post-Constitutional era”. He focuses on the steady erosion of freedom of speech, particularly in the media, including limits on the ability of journalists to protect sources to more self-censorship and increased antipathy towards reporting that involves the use of confidential material.

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