Coming Down to the Wire…

Thanks so much for your generous contribution to our fundraiser. We’ve raised our target for the number of donations to 1200 and we are now at 1080 as of 9 PM EST. With our deadline of midnight PST (3:00 AM) we’ll just squeak if those of you who haven’t had time yet chip in, and those who’ve given earlier make an additional donation on behalf of those that are suffering financial hardships.

Join us and participate via our Tip Jar, another credit card portal or by check (see here for details). Yes, PayPal and Chrome do NOT get along, so if you use Chrome, try another browser for the Tip Jar, or use the portal, or send a check (be sure to send us a message, “Check is in the mail” so we can count your donation in the fundraiser total).

This effort has been very gratifying in demonstrating that many of you really do value having an alternative to the mainstream media that provides hard-hitting commentary. Moe Tkacik, who often writes about finance (venues include Reuters, the New York Observer, and Daily Finance), wrote us:

I just want to make the point that old-school journalism doesn’t work anymore, even when it’s done the right way; even when it should. Long, thorough, painstakingly researched features do not have the impact they should because you need to have the energy for information warfare, and most journalists are honestly just bummed by that process.

It has to do with that three-part Detroit Free Press investigation into Fannie/Freddie’s fire sales. If you read it, it was shocking. Reporter spent 8 months piecing it together. It shows in very vivid detail how economically irrational Fannie/Freddie’s scorched earth foreclose-at-all-costs has been. I’d seen a lot of evidence of this in the NC comments section, but the story really did an admirable job laying it all out. They analyzed thousands of transactions.

Reporter told me she spent a week compiling questions for the FHFA. And they just refused flat out to comment at all.

8 months of investigation, the daily newspaper in a very hard-hit city, and they JUST DON’T FUCKING COMMENT. Because her questions suggested she had an “agenda.” Ed DeMarco sent a stupid letter to the editor denying everything without denying anything.

There is something so hysterically off here. This is not how things were when I got into the business. The government had a basic respect for investigative journalists. This kind of story would have an impact. Instead they didn’t even bother COMMENTING.

Anyway, story gets no traction. None. Partially bc reporter is completely unskilled in the self promotion component of this industry, and she went on vacation right after it ran, but seriously.

When I wrote about the FHFA, it was such a complicated story that it became a two-parter. I realized there were so many layers of spin suffocating those two enterprises that it seemed very plausible that there was no actual grand moneymaking scheme driving the whole thing, that it was just a byzantine bureaucracy staffed by people solely focused on covering their asses.

After the first part went up, my editor got an angry call from the FHFA. She couldn’t *believe* Reuters would actually post a second part. He asked what factual assertions she took issue with. She could not name a single one!

I call her back to follow-up and her message has two parts, one for the media and one for homeowners trying to refinance. That’s how highly these people value the public they ostensibly serve; one fucking flack is supposed to handle calls from both journalists and millions of homeowners. (The OIG had actually investigated this and concluded that the FHFA really needed to stop treating consumer complaints as a media relations function, but apparently they haven’t found time to fix the problem.)

Anyway, NC is pretty much my last hope for anything at all.

Hopefully we really aren’t the last hope, but Moe’s comments tell us how hard it is for even dedicated journalists not to be ground down by the way the powers that be refuse to play ball with the Fourth Estate. That makes independent sources of expertise even more important, and this community’s collective knowledge and skepticism is an important resource in the effort to challenge corruption among the elites and diseased orthodoxies.

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  1. PQS

    I’ve been very skeptical for some time about the utility of online reporting and blogging, but this site has convinced me otherwise.

    The comment section has also been a welcome salve to the foaming at the mouth that so frequently infects most other sites. I no longer comment at Salon, for example, because I find the contributions of others to be either inflammatory or insipid, or both.

    Congrats, Yves, on a successful fundraiser, and here’s to many more! Thanks x 1000.

  2. Eric

    While I can’t contribute much, this is my first donation to a website of any kind. And it was definitely deserving of it. Thanks for your work.

  3. Philip Pilkington

    Yes, Moe is right. The mainstream media doesn’t work properly. It’s too solipsistic. It’s all about ‘water cooler talk’ and access. It’s turned into a sort of celebrity game — except the ‘celebrities’ are generally uninteresting and not hot.

    Investigative journalism works well for small issues and for most things to do with government corruption (the media LOVE government corruption), but for the stories that really matter it doesn’t mean a tap. The opinion pieces are uninformed, dry and irrelevant — usually centering around the pet peevs of your average middle class person. They just cannot change the terms of the debate anymore.

    I’ve completely given up on the mainstream media. Much better writing for NC…

    1. MacCruiskeen

      The press likes government corruption stories when they’re relatively insular, about particular individuals acting in an obviously illegal or ethically questionable way, like a wart that can be removed by cosmetic surgery. It’s much harder to pursue larger systemic stories like the one mentioned above. There may not be a “bad guy” to hang the story on, and no simple solution. And no way to know how far it spreads.

  4. Republican

    I am becoming quite worried about the increasing trend of criminalizing everything in the United States and around the world. While many laws are necessary, life is becoming so regulated that almost everything humans do is becoming illegal.

    Americans like to say they love freedom, but there are few freedoms left in the US. The government is tightening the noose to strangle Americans with ever-increasing nanny state laws so much that the US is starting to look like North Korea.

    Most of the following actions have been outlawed just in my lifetime:

    Fast food restaurants have been banned.

    Feeding homeless people has become a crime.

    Sex tourism has been outlawed.

    Sex offenders have been required to register with the police and are forbidden from living near schools and parks.

    Sex offenders can be be held for life under indefinite civil commitment laws even after they complete their original sentences.

    Drug users have been banned from receiving welfare or student aid.

    The US Constitution has been overruled by the Patriot Act that has legalized wiretaps without a warrant and allows the government to deport
    and strip any American of his or her citizenship.,8816,449497,00.html

    Guantanamo has been used to keep and torture suspected terrorists without trial.

    Domestic violence abusers having been banned from having guns.

    Mandatory seat belt use laws have been enacted.

    DUI and drug checkpoints have been allowed.

    Governments are now allowed to seize the property of suspected prostitution clients, drug users, and drunk drivers.

    “John TV” shows that embarrass and punish people arrested on prostitution charges are now allowed.

    The US now has a secret panel “kill list” of Americans who are targeted to be assassinated without a trial.

    Car owners are now required to have liability insurance.

    Americans are not allowed to travel to Cuba.

    People who owe child support are not allowed to have passports.,0,123074.story

    People who have defaulted student loans are not allowed to have professional licenses.

    The US is one of the few countries that has the death penalty.

    Americans must report any currency that they carry over $10,000.

    Americans must pay sales taxes on services.

    Americans must now pay sales taxes on mail-order products shipped from other states.

    Americans must pay US taxes on worldwide income.

    Americans must also pay income taxes to foreign countries when they work overseas.

    Americans must pay taxes on gifts given and received.

    The drinking age has been raised.

    Drunk driving has been outlawed.

    Homeowners cannot rent rooms in their homes.

    Debtors with defaulted student loans are forbidden from having driver licenses.

    Child seats are now required in cars with toddlers.

    Americans cannot have US or foreign bank accounts while living overseas.

    Americans who do have overseas bank accounts must report them to the US government every year.

    Adultery is illegal.

    Foreign workers are forbidden from working in many countries.

    Unmarried couples may not live together.

    Oral sex is illegal.

    Some countries require websites to be licensed by the government.

    Panhandling is illegal.

    Loitering is illegal.

    Homeowners are legally required to mow their lawns.

    There is now a 5 year lifetime limit on welfare.

    Bankruptcy has been outlawed.

    Watering and not watering lawns are both illegal.

    Fat taxes are being added to food.

    Smoking indoors, in parks, at beaches, and on public transportation has been made illegal.

    Sales of cigarettes to minors has been outlawed.

    Airline passengers can now be added to “no-fly” lists, searched, and required to have an ID.

    Driving while using a mobile phone has been banned.

    Americans are now required by law to have health insurance.

    Cars are required to have air bags.

    Americans are now required to have a passport to visit Canada and Mexico.

    The minimum driving age has been raised.

    Curfews have been enacted.

    Homeowners must have a permit from the government to remove trees from their own private property.

    Homeowners are banned from installing fake grass on their lawns.

    Enough is enough. If you care about your freedom, write your elected officials. Governments would love to take away all your freedom if they could. Our freedoms are diminishing, not growing. Stand up, fight for your rights, and protect our freedom now!

    First they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew. Then they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist. Then they came for the trade unionists, but I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for me, but there was no one left to speak for me.

    If only one person is not free, then no one is free.

    They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

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