By Ed Walker, who wrote as masaccio at Firedoglake and now writes regularly at emptywheel. You can follow him at Twitter at @MasaccioEW, and here’s his author page at Shadowproof.
I’m a long-term reader and financial supporter of this site, and an occasional contributor. I’m a lawyer, with years of experience in corporate and bankruptcy law, and served for 3 years as the Securities Commissioner in Tennessee. Throughout my career, I have read the business press, especially coverage of some of my cases, and it is just appalling, It’s inconsistent, frequently ignorant, and generally biased in favor of the interests of the rich and their corporations. Just as the political press regurgitates the swill served up by politicians and their mouthpieces, unchecked and with no interest in the reality behind those whispers, the business press is absurdly trusting of the swill served up by the financial community, the corporate community, and the regulators, and their bought and paid for experts and PR hacks.
That’s why I contribute to Naked Capitalism.If you haven’t found time to give yet, please go straight to the Tip Jar, which tells you how to donate by check, debit, or credit card.
This site covers crucial issues with consistent intensity. Yves and Lambert don’t do outrage of the day posts. They don’t do “what you need to know this morning” posts. When they select a subject, they stay on it and dig in. They keep it right in front of your eyes. It’s a sharp contrast to the coverage in the mainstream press, which has an attention span of about 12 hours, and zero curiosity..
Just look at the coverage of Wells Fargo’s fraudulent accounts scheme. There are 14 articles covering every aspect of the story. In the very first piece, focused on the discussion of the coverage by the New York Times, Yves raises crucial points that the Times misses: no officer or significant person was charged; the refusal to consider the use of Sarbanes-Oxley by any banking regulator; the efforts of regulators to explain their weak stance with discussions of the number of people fired, obscuring the fact that Wells Fargo executives must have known about the problems for 5 years; the irrelevance of the refunded amounts as a minimizing factor, because it doesn’t begin to cover the cost of screwing around with credit reporting agencies and the general stress people feel in the face of this treatment.
The entire story shows the toady nature of the mainstream press and its silliness. Yves puts the entire story in context of Wells Fargo’s long-term mendacity and ill-treatment of customers. And then there are more stories, each one unearthing a different kind of issue, the arrogance of letting the person responsible for the fraud retire with a huge pension, the arrogance of John Stumpf, the CEO, and the crucial fact that banks are tightly managed businesses, so that the employees have little discretion. That central fact eluded all other reporters I’ve seen.
Yves pointed to an insightful comment by reader and commenter it’s about time, in one of the first posts anywhere calling out Carrie Tolstedt as the head of the division that hosted the fraudulent behavior, who was allowed to retire with $125 million, which effectively means little clawback from her. This is typical of the commenters at Naked Capitalism, one of its great treasures.
You can be sure that the next time Wells Fargo breaks the law and walks away unpunished, Yves and Lambert will be there to remind us of their sordid history.
That kind of relentless coverage is in evidence in Lambert’s 2:00 Water Cooler posts, which offer daily updates on critical issues that vanish in mainstream coverage. His daily reminder that the TPP proceeds apace is a necessary corrective to mainstream press amnesia. But there’s more to Lambert than these daily updates.
Take a careful look at Lambert’s on Obamacare. Coverage in the mainstream press is spotty and incoherent. If you read only the Times or the Washington Post, you would nave little way of knowing the state of play. Lambert provides the connective tissue, the context for understanding what’s actually happening and why. His posts on the death spiral are must-read if you want to see the future. In this recent post, he collects stories that paint a desperate picture for millions of covered people, and discusses the complex and completely absurd calculations a “rational agent” would have to make to determine the most efficient choice. It’s just the latest in a long stream of in-depth posts on the subject. Just check out this link for a detailed history and more links. It’s an astonishing and compelling picture of this mess.
Give whatever you can, whether it’s $5, $50, or $5000, via the Tip Jar, which tells you how to donate by check, credit, or debit card. And if you send a check, tell Yves at yves@nakedcapitalism. Put “Check is in the mail” in the subject line and tell her how much is en route so she can include your contribution in her running tally.
It’s important to keep this information and analysis flowing. That’s why I’ll be contributing again this year. I hope you will too.