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“Investor Education?” No, Just More Marketing & Sales Hoopla From Wall Street’s Relentless Propaganda, Hype & Brainwashing Machine!

by Paul B Farrell, JD, PhD

| Print | 5/4/2010

One of Wall Street’s central goals is the accumulation of more assets under management … and “more is never enough.” The greater the assets under management, the more fees and commissions Wall Street can charge for relative little management, and the richer insiders get. When they do (reluctantly) sponsor “investor education” programs, they are in fact marketing and sales tools to get new business. As former SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt once put it:

“Most of the players in this highly profitable industry are reluctant to spend more than a pittance on educating fund investors because funds know they can make more money off uninformed investors.”

Just as the Pentagon knows psych-ops disinformation strategies work, Wall Street knows these so-called “Investor Literacy” and “Investor Education” programs are tools to indirectly manipulate investors. These programs don’t help investors, they hurt: America’s national saving rate dropped from more than 11% in the early Eighties to below zero in recent years even as these programs grew. They are designed to control Main Street investors by broadcasting Wall Street’s slanted messages and neutralizing counterattacks.

Remember “The Planet of the Apes” with its fascinating sci-fi role-reversal: In that world, humanoids are the dumb beasts. Apes and their relatives are the intelligent beings: That’s right, Apes, Gorillas, Orangutans and Chimpanzees were running the world! That sci-fi fantasy is in danger of becoming reality, not just in the Wall Street jungle, but throughout America. In the world of economics and investing, evolution is rapidly reversing itself. Humanoids are being overpowered. Street Apes are rapidly spinning us back along the food chain. In that brilliant sci-fi drama, the cast of characters is divided very simply: Humanoids are America’s 95 million naïve and passive investors. They are enslaved to the elite special interest Apes and their clansmen dominating the Wall Street-Washington-Corporate-America Jungle.

Mixing metaphors and using radical new “intelligent design” theories from behavioral finance, the Apes tell us that hurricanes are opportunities for “economic stimulus.” They also want humanoid investors to believe that other faith-based theories are good for America: Such wizardry as pork barrel spending, deficits-don’t-matter logic, tax cuts for the super-rich, preemptory wars, no-bid drug contracts, medieval science curricula, and outsourcing trade policies that are building China and India into super-power competitors. Moreover, this evolutionary reversal of evolution is being accelerated by a steady stream of clever “investor education” initiatives. Yes, they are “clever” because the Apes want us to believe that “investor education” will help humanoids build million dollar retirement nest eggs.

“Investor education” is a dangerous fairytale

But the Wall Street Apes initiatives are creating the exact opposite, America’s savings rate has dropped below zero in two decades. And as bizarre and contradictory as it sounds, that is exactly what the Apes secretly want! They do not want humanoids to be independent thinkers. They want Americans to indulge, spend, borrow and spend more.

Consider the facts: Two years after the fact, the SEC still hadn’t figured out how to spend the investor education money included in the $1.4 billion Wall Street settlement fine from the 2002-2004 scandals. Plus, the states-run Investor Protection Trust is wasting millions on television programs that would never go prime-time and probably end up competing with Saturday cartoons. For example, the Mutual Fund Reform Act of 2004: Congress killed a bill which had a provision to stamp out “investor illiteracy,” proof that Washington’s Apes believed America’s 95 million Humanoids are still unevolved “illiterate investors.” And they wanted to keep it that way.

The real truth is that we already have too many useless “investor education” programs! Some have been around a long time, like the Mutual Fund Education Alliance, formed in 1971. Check them out: Notice how they all echo the same dull, ineffective messages: Alliance For Investor Education, American Association of Individual Investors, National Association of Investor Corporations, and lately the Investment Company Institute has chimed in with a new program, “Funding Your Future.” So the bottom line is that the fund industry has had extensive “investor education” programs for years.

Unfortunately, “investor education” is a dismal failure

They’re not helping. In fact, things just keep getting worse! Mounting consumer and national debt. Zero savings. Bankruptcies. Increasing poverty. On one hand, tons of “investor education” programs. On the other, Humanoid investors are regressing backward along the economic evolutionary chain.

The nineties mania proved how “illiterate” American investors are. We followed the Apes like sheep buying silly dotcoms with no earnings histories. We weren’t evolved enough to avoid the big bad bear and the recession. Nest eggs vanished. Even though we lost $8 trillion in their markets, the clever Apes managing our mutual funds continued making their average $436,500 annual salaries—and we continue cheering for them, even though the stock markets have barely averaged one percent return annually since the peak in early 2000.

Step out of the fantasy folks: “Investor education” gets a big fat failing grade. Since the early eighties America’s zero-savings rate has collapsed from 11% to zero today as we drown in debt sipping $3.50 Starbucks lattes, filling up our gas-guzzlers, disassociating from reality while buying the latest iPod, XBox or plasma TV. Human evolution is in fact being reverse-engineered by the Apes in the real world of money, investing and economics. Yes, they are making monkeys out of us, but we’re willing victims.

The big secret? Save 10%! But we can’t even do that

Folks, investor education can be summarized in one simple formula that would make anyone a millionaire. This one formula is all you ever need to know about investing. And it’s not really a secret, it’s emphasized in every one of the programs above: “Save 10%!” It’s that simple. Here’s the corollary to the formula: “Nothing saved … equals nothing invested … equals nothing compounding … equals nothing for retirement!”

So why is America’s savings rate zero? Why are “investor education” programs such a miserable failure, a misleading, total waste of money? Listen closely, here are the two big, interconnected reasons that both humanoids and Apes prefer illiteracy, yet will continue denying reality while sliding back along the evolutionary regression trail!

First: 10 reasons investors stay “illiterate” by choice

The shocking truth is: Most humanoids do not want to be ‘educated investors!’ We’ve got priorities, better things to do. Seriously, we have full-time jobs, kids, parents and grandparents to worry about, and a helluva lot more. Yes, we want to retire as millionaires, but getting “educated” about investing takes too much time, effort and brain cells. So we have become unconsciously vulnerable to the Apes brainwashing PR advertising spin. In fact, by choice, many investors choose to remain illiterate about investing for these ten “reasons:”

1. After paying bills there’s no money left for saving and planning
2. Or they simple enjoy satisfying immediate needs and fun stuff
3. For many, planning for the future just isn’t how their brains work
4. Others are novices, naïve newbies, easy prey for Street hustlers
5. Many people have no interest in financial and economic matters
6. Others are too confused by the money math, and block it out
7. Some are dependent people and can’t make money decisions
8. Others say money is the root of all evil, reject the devil’s work
9. Many are too busy making money to become savvy investors
10. Lastly, our brains are our worst enemy, not created for investing

Humanoid investors are being steadily programmed to think short-term, focusing on the “now” – getting kids to little league, filling the tank, running errands, enjoying a daily latte … and buying whatever cable TV’s talking heads are pushing today. Behavioral science is proving our “long-term investing gene” is being erased from the humanoid brain. The Apes replaced it with an “immediate-gratification gene,” creating zero-saving consumer mutants.

Two: Primates fear “educated investors” will revolt

And that gets me to the second really big reason “investor education” programs are total failures. As much as the Apes rule is a fiction, so is Wall Street’s pretense of caring, they secretly hate the idea of having truly “educated investors” around. The reason is obvious: The Apes know that if the humanoids ever did get educated and were financial literate, there’d be a widespread violent rebellion against the jungle’s ruling Apes!

If iumanoid investors knew how Apes keep their greed machine secretly hidden … How much the Apes are skimming off the top … How much effort the Apes put into keeping humanoid investors enslaved to their stupid “faith-based” investing theories … a grassroots rebellion would sweep those Primates back to their jungle. That’s right: If humanoids ever realize the truth, they’d overthrow the Primates and their “faith-based” economics and take back the planet.

The truth is, my dear fellow humanoid investors, our self-appointed masters (all those Apes populating the upper echelons of Wall Street, Washington and Corporate America) are too intelligent, too self-interested, too arrogant, and too greedy for their own good. But stay tuned! Soon, we can safely and scientifically predict, this evolutionary reversal will slam headlong into the law of unintended consequences. Then, something beautifully unpredictable with happen (perhaps the reappearance of a new “Missing Link”) and the balance will again shift. In short, the Apes are destined to self-destruct, that’s the inevitability of history.

FirstPubDate: Oct’05



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[Oct 16, 2009] MSM Reporting as Propaganda (No One Minds Our New Financial Masters Edition)

I'm of two minds about taking up this theme, since stating what ought to be obvious but is nevertheless unpleasant and inconvenient is apt to get one branded as lunatic fringe.

Access journalism has created what is in many respects a controlled press. And that matters because people are far more suggestible than most of us wants to admit to ourselves.

Let us start with the cheerleading in the media over Wall Street, and in particular, Goldman earnings. Matt Taibbi, in "Good News on Wall Street Means… What Exactly?," tells us why this is so distorted:

It's literally amazing to me that our press corps hasn't yet managed to draw a distinction between good news on Wall Street for companies like Goldman, and good news in reality.

I watched carefully the reporting of the Dow breaking 10,000 the other day and not anywhere did I see a major news organization include a paragraph of the "On the other hand, so fucking what?" sort, one that might point out that unemployment is still at a staggering high, foreclosures are racing along at a terrifying clip, and real people are struggling more than ever. In fact the dichotomy between the economic health of ordinary people and the traditional "market indicators" is not merely a non-story, it is a sort of taboo - unmentionable in major news coverage.

The press has been on a downslope for at least a decade, as a result of strained budgets and vastly more effective government and business spin control (and it was already pretty good at that, see the BBC series, The Century of the Self, via Google video, for a real eye-opener). I met a reporter who had been overseas for six years, opening an important foreign office for the Wall Street Journal. He was stunned when he came back in 1999 to see how much reporting had changed in his absence. He said it was impossible to get to the bottom of most stories in a normal news cycle because companies had become very sophisticated in controlling their message and access.

I couldn't tell immediately, but one of my friends remarked in 2000 that the reporting was increasingly reminiscent of what she had grown up with in communist Poland. The state of the US media became evident to me when I lived in Australia during the run-up and the first two years of the Gulf War. I would regularly e-mail people in the States about stories I thought were important and I suspected might not be getting much play in the US. My correspondents were media junkies. 85% of the time, a story that had gotten widespread coverage in Australia appeared not to have been released in the US. And the other 15%, it didn't get much attention (for instance, buried in the middle of the first section of the New York Times). And remember, Australia was an ally and sent troops to the Iraq.

Why does this matter? Because influence via the adept packaging of information and images is very effective. The creator of the public relations industry, Edward Bernays, was the nephew of Freud and set about to use the subconscious to shape public opinion. His books included This Business of Propaganda and Manipulating Public Opinion. But it doesn't fit our self image of being masters of our own view to recognize that we might be swayed.

In his classic, Influence: The Art of Persuasion, Robert Cialdini describes how salesmen can adeptly use social conditioning and norms to elicit favorable responses. Cialdini, a social psychologist, notes that even though he is aware of these techniques, he is unable to resist them.

One experiment from cognitive bias research assembles a number of people in a room together, but all save one are actors. Everyone in the room is shown a series of lines and asked to say out loud which is the shortest (the background design makes it a bit difficult to discern without concentrating a bit). For the first five or six rounds, the actors (and the lone experiment subject) pick the shortest one. Then, the actors start calling the LONGEST line the shortest one. After a few round s of this (and inevitably, the one not in on the game looks puzzled) about one-third of the experiment subjects start agreeing with the crowd, even though that answer is clearly incorrect. And there is boatloads of other evidence of suggestibility. For instance, numerous studies have found that if a number of people tell an individual he looks tired or sick, he will start feeling tired or sick, as the case may be.

Back to the main theme: the media dares not say anything too negative about financial services firms or their government operatives lest they lose access. The private sector has learned the lesson of the Bush Administration, that the threat of freezing a reporter out is a powerful weapon. I have had some well connected readers tell of story ideas that they served up in some detail that the media would not touch out of fear of alienating their sources. This is the sort of thing that one associates with banana republics, but we have been operating on that level for quite some time.

Not surprisingly, the government and large corporations were firmly in charge of the message during the crisis (remember the gap between the MSM reporting and the anger in the populace over the TARP, which was finally noted ONLY when Congress responded to a barrage of calls and e-mails and voted down TARP v. 1.0?) and perhaps more important, in pushing the, "move past that car wreck, things are really better" message. From the Pew Research Center:

Three storylines have dominated: efforts to help revive the banking sector, the battle over the stimulus package and the struggles of the U.S. auto industry. Together they accounted for nearly 40% of the economic coverage from February 1 through August 31. Other topics related to the crisis have been covered much less. As an example, all the reporting of retail sales, food prices, the impact of the crisis on Social Security and Medicare, its effect on education and the implications for health care combined accounted for just over 2% of all the economic coverage.

Actions by government officials and business leaders drove much of the coverage. The White House and federal agencies alone initiated nearly a third (32%) of economic stories studied through July 3. Business triggered another 21%. About a quarter of the stories (23%) was initiated by the press itself and did not rely on an external news trigger. Ordinary citizens and union workers combined to act as the catalyst for only 2% of the stories about the economy.

Fully 76% of the datelines on economic stories studied during the first five months of the Obama presidency were New York (44%) or metro Washington D.C. (32%). Only about one-fifth (21%) of the stories originated in any other city in the U.S., and about a quarter of those emanated from two other major media centers: Atlanta and Los Angeles…

Once the economic situation showed some signs of improvement-and the political fights over legislative action subsided-media coverage began to diminish. After accounting for 46% of the overall news coverage in February and March, for instance, coverage of the economic crisis dropped by more than half (to 21% of the newshole studied) from April through June. And in July and August, it fell even further (to 16%). The clearest example came in cable news. Once the political battles subsided, coverage fell by about two-thirds from March to April.

Notice even Pew has fallen for the party line a bit. The stock market rally started in March. That is not a sign of economic improvement (Krugman has said something along the lines of "The stock market has predicted 20 of the past 9 recoveries.").

So what do we have? A media that predominantly bases its stories on what it is fed because it has to. Ever-leaner staffing, compressed news cycles, and access journalism all conspire to drive reporters to focus on the "must cover" news, which is to a large degree influenced by the parties that initiate the story. And that means they are increasingly in an echo chamber, spending so much time with the influential sources they feel they must cover that they start to be swayed by them. It is less intense, but not dissimilar to the effect achieved when reporters are embedded in military units. The journalists often wind up adopting the views of the people they associate with frequently (I am sure readers will add more nefarious theories in comments, but the point here is a simple: an up the center description of what has happened to the media shows it has fallen under the sway of powerful interests).

Now how do we get to the propaganda part? Not only, per Taibbi, are we getting the view of the economy from the vantage of the bankers, as opposed to a broad swathe of the population, but we now we have the media (well, this example is that odd hybrid, an MSM blog) telling us there is no outrage. From the Los Angeles Times (hat tip JohnD):

Except for Michael Moore, whose new movie posits that capitalism is one big Ponzi scheme, the news Wednesday that banks are thriving and that Wall Street analysts are in line for big bonuses this year seemed to land with all the political weight of a dull thud.

Oh sure, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee said he'll soon hold hearings on executive pay at firms that got taxpayer bailout money, like AIG and Bank of America….

But with the Dow Jones hitting 10,000 and the economy stepping back from the precipice of last fall's collapse, there was little of that tea-party outrage that might have been expected.

Have we moved on? Arguing that the country is now more concerned with Afghanistan and healthcare, the Wall Street Journal said of bonus outrage: "That's so last March."

Maybe taxpayers have simply given up on Washington's efforts to corral Wall Street.

Now why is this sort of thing (and the media was full of more subtle versions, of happy talk re Dow 10,000 and Goldman earnings) more pernicious than it might appear?

The message, quite overly, is: if you are pissed, you are in a minority. The country has moved on. Things are getting better, get with the program. Now I saw the polar opposite today. There is a group of varying sizes, depending on the topic, that e-mails among itself, mainly professional investors, analysts, economists (I'm usually on the periphery but sometimes chime in). I never saw such an angry, active, and large thread about the Goldman BS fest today. Now if people who have not suffered much, and are presumably benefitting from the market recovery are furious, it isn't hard to imagine that what looks like complacency in the heartlands may simply be contained rage looking for an outlet.

But per the social psychology research, this "you are in a minority, you are wrong" message DOES dissuade a lot of people. It is remarkably poisonous. And it discourages people from taking concrete action. I was surprised that some people bothered to comment on a post I put up yesterday, calling on people in the Chicago area to attend some peaceful demonstrations against the banking industry during the American Bankers Association national meeting, October 25 through 27. Some people weighed in, saying (basically) "don't bother".

I suppose it makes a difference whether one is old enough to remember the 1960s. Because people in large numbers got out and protested, two sets of changes that seemed impossible came about: civil rights for blacks and an end to the US involvement in Vietnam (if you read the histories, the military and intelligence experts were on the whole persuaded it was an unwinnable war, but it was seen as too costly to US prestige for America to withdraw).

And even if the effort you make narrowly is not successful (does any one person's effort have much impact?) it breeds apathy and cynicism to suggest that doing nothing is the best course of action. If nothing else, it is better for one's psyche to do what one can, however small, to make a difference.

Now America does not have a tradition of taking to the streets; demonstrations and rallies historically are working class affairs. But the middle class is on a path of downward mobility while the elites continue to take the cream. The widening gap might waken some impulses that have been dormant in the American psyche.

October 16, 2009 at 2:51 am

Would You Buy a Newspaper From This Man


the not blinking is remarkable. how does one do that?

There's a time and a place for everything--it's called college

from my experience, certain pills would do the trick ;)


Friends; I remember seeing an interview with the sainted Baghwan Rajneesh, (from the aptly named Poona India,) in which I don't believe he blinked once in five minutes. Indeed, certain 'medicinal' compounds will do that trick. The Baghwans folks used to say, "Sex solves everything." Young Murdoch seems to be saying, "Money solves everything."

I know that Murdock the Elder is fond of saying, "F- everyone!" Of the three, I like the Baghwan the best.


It's not quite perfectly blink-free. And it's cut in a few spots. So he wouldn't have had to "hold it" for a really unusual amount of time. But the overall effect is still pretty weird.


The guy projects like a psychopath. In his case it must be genetic…


Yves Smith:

I'm glad to hear you say that. I had a similar reaction but thought it was just prejudice on my part. But if you had cast for that type, I don't see how you could have gotten a better performance, both the choice of words and the affect.


Another graduate from the Majesty School Of Etiquette and Mastery of Subliminal Communication. He's an elitist novitiate versed in the art of speech deliverance with (effective pause)…..the practiced deliberation, pauses, gestures, appearance of concern,…..consistently reiterating – ad nauseum Rebekah Brooks as solely responsible…….

Supporting her as he wears a Hazmet Suit to prevent her hazardous waste contaminating him.

Watching Murdoch gave me…ahem….pause to consider another graduate of the subliminal school of speechifers; Rahm Emmanuel with the practiced pauses, charm-snake indulgent smiles…..sorta like watching a cat playing with its food.

I always have the same reaction watching these guys (Rahm, Murdoch, Obama…)…..wear garlic around neck and sleep with cross.


I was actually thinking about the bad genes he got from his father. But Skippy makes a nice point about Australian history below.


I have seriously not watched TV in 20+ years but am now watching a few things like this online…..slick propaganda

James believes that what he is doing is good for society. James is a very good example of the reason why we need to take social and economic policy making out of these peoples hands and IMO we need to remove inherited wealth from all of society so that equality of opportunity is closer to a reality.

May the purge begin.

Yves Smith:

Now I can put my finger on what bothers me…..the utter lack of any contrition (which really means faking contrition) or taking responsibility (as in sounding as if you are taking responsibility).

The usual formula is to sound apologetic without admitting to much of anything, characterize what happened as mistakes, and promise to Investigate and Do Better In The Future. He doesn't even make a real stab at it. The one bad decision he admits to he says (basically) was based on bad information, but he comes off sounding more unhappy at being caught out than disturbed or distressed having authorized something that didn't pass the smell test.

He can't even be bothered to work himself up to a plausible act, even with the BSkyB deal and his future at stake.


You have described the essence of psychopathic behavior and thinking. They never show remorse (and when they do it is faked in order to obtain something), and it is never their fault.

Parvaneh Ferhadi:

Sounds like Tony Blair, George W. Bush, Obama and a bunch of others.

Doug Terpstra:

Although Tony was very, very good, Barack takes the basilisk phenomenon to high art. But the hypnosis was two-way: the narcissistic snake charmed itself in a mirror. In doing God's work, I suspect the messiah complex takes possession of one's soul, like a great scAmway convention in which cult leaders drink their own Kool-Aid, their own venomous snake oil. They can then commit hideous crimes without the interference of conscience.

wunsacon:[Jul 09, 2011] Sounds like Eric Cartman.


Dear wunsacon; Oh, come on now! Cartman is capable of introspection, and he's a much more nuanced, (dare I say multi-dimensional?) character than Murdoch the Younger.

F. Beard:

Agreed! Cartman has several redeeming features. He is a natural leader for one.


The headline should be rewritten:

"Would you buy an advertised product from this man's newspaper?"

All good people should look up who advertises on Fox and the other Murdoch rags, list the advertisers and begin a selective boycott of those product classes that they buy. Also, most important, call or email the advertisers and tell they what you are doing and why you are doing and refer them to some locally owned independent media if any exists where you live.

Reply rps says: July 9, 2011 at 6:51 pm Psychohistorian in my humble opinion, I think you give Murdoch too much credence in the assumption that he cares and acts upon ideology. He cares neither for society much less the individual. to him we are sheep to be shorn and penned cattle awaiting our turn. Murdoch serves and obeys one god, one cause; himself. However you are absolutely correct and perhaps a Thomas Paineophilia as myself as you rightly state, "we need to take social and economic policy making out of these peoples hands and IMO we need to remove inherited wealth from all of society so that equality of opportunity is closer to a reality" Hammer meet nail….BAM

"Men who look upon themselves born to reign, and others to obey, soon grow insolent. Selected from the rest of mankind, their minds are early poisoned by importance; and the world they act in differs so materially from the world at large, that they have but little opportunity of knowing its true interests, and when they succeed in the government are frequently the most ignorant and unfit of any throughout the dominions." Thomas Paine, Common Sense


All one has to do is look into Rupert's up bringing, late 17th / 18th century ethos in the 2Oth, breed, born, educated and from the first day on the rag floor, made to understand the history and power of the printing press and to weld it ( he held the late John Howard in contempt, to socialist for his liking[s).

Sons first years, apple, tree, thingy.

Skippy…we had a rash of bettering fathers gone wrong of late…eh…towers do narrow at the top…pin head?


Dear skippy; The same applies to Georgia, here in the Deep South. Oglethorpe and all that. Then the buggers started moving to the west. People here in Mississippi, when asked about the whereabouts of a person 'wanted by the law' will say, with a straight face mind you, "Gone to Texas." We all know what evil later arose from that region! (There's an old joke to the effect that the Devil himself wouldn't live in Texas. That, unfortunately, lets Dubwa off the hook as regards the Antichrist Stakes. Drat.)

Reply Psychoanalystus says: July 9, 2011 at 3:02 pm I'm sure the Australians are grateful to England for shipping them out of that hell hole called Britain. Even today the brits are emigrating to places like Australia like theee's no tomorrow.

VA work is with elderly vets from America's Greatest Generation. Very special and honorable people. But I'm not much into this career thing, so in a few weeks I'm going back to my life of frappe and souflaki on the beach far from this crazyness around here. The American ratrace is a waste of time at this point.


Murdoch = Hearst

Fair statement?

jeff :

Hearst build San Simeon and employed Julia Morgan.

Murdoch has built?

Foppe: Fox News. ;)


Reminds me of Geithner, not as smart though.

I wonder what Rebekah Brooks has on these players.

Psychoanalystus: Honestly, it kind of reminds me of Michelle Bachmann.

Reply /L:

Some psychologists say that when people wrinkle their forehead they lie. When little Timmy was tested on his homework by maestro Elizabeth Warren one sometimes wondered how there could be any skin left to the rest of little Timmy's honest face with so much forehead wrinkling.


True. I noticed that the more mentally impaired some of my patients are, the more prominent the "omega" sign on their foreheads becomes.

Dave of Maryland:

Wrinkled foreheads while lying is interesting.

In acting, that's one of the major things to overcome. Actors do it the hard way. Actresses grow bangs. Next time you're in front of the idiot tube, look for it.


I think what she "has on these players" is every evil-sounding plot they've made over the past 15 years. She's the "daughter" Rupert never had. She's been doted on and promoted and taught the same psychopathic mannerisms and thoughts that James has been imbued with.

If she's betrayed she'll bring the others down with her. One of the interesting things about the clip yesterday on Guardian was her reaction when she was treated like a woman is treated by Andy Coulson during the questioning.

The look was enough; he was meat and she was the predator. James and Rupert will not wish to see that look from her. They will protect her with their lives. For to do otherwise would be to risk their entire empire coming down on their heads.

bob : Are his pupils completely blown(dilated), or it bad light?

Psychoanalystus: I was wondering about that too. Maybe he's high on cocaine.

Reply RDE says: July 9, 2011 at 9:33 am Hunter Thompson's years of research got it right. Ibogane!


Its a nicely framed title!

I did have one thought that troubles me. Big 'if' but *if* the UK Govt does decide that the purchase of BskyB can go ahead, this episode will have worked well for NewsCorp – tens if not hundreds of millions has been wiped off the share price of BskyB making it something of a bargain for Murdoch.


How would you like to be a staffer busting your hump 12 hours a day for 40K GBP and come into work reading this on your BB?

These people are so out of touch with reality. No remorse, no accountability, certainly no empathy towards their employees. Ethics? puhleeze…..

Under her leadership, a scandal grew so out of control they had to close the largest UK newspaper in one week. The message to the staff is; sorry for the actions of a few unscrupulous people, I knew nothing, look at all the other great things we have done and I'll do my best to get you another job or a nice check for a few months.

Reply wunsacon says: July 9, 2011 at 10:36 am Yeah, maybe Rupert's strategy is "hit them with the stick first and make them beg for a carrot".

We'll soon learn whether anyone wants to break ranks and make a name for themselves.

jake chase:

Although they can be quite useful for stuffing wet shoes, lining bird cages, keeping warm in a pinch, etc., I often wonder these days why anyone ever reads a newspaper.

Of course, the other day I actually watched a man wearing a tie deposit $1 into a USA Today vending machine. What do you suppose he was hoping to learn?

Does anyone with an IQ above 100 really read this drek?


you just have to look at these people and listen, i suppose if you can, for a few seconds –

no doubt he's morally bankrupt, but wonderfully rich and comfortable within the wonderfully rich and comfortable set –

and they are the press, broadcasting and programming that is subtly suggesting to us all what to do – how can everyone be so blind for all these years – unbelievable – but then maybe it's easy to be a sheep when you're programmed to believe –

so no, never have never will buy their line, sorry rup/james/lachlan and family please go away


failure to educate people, probably deliberate, is my best guess why people are so addicted to the propaganda. thom hartmann has pointed out that civics stopped being taught in u.s. public high schools at the beginning of the reagan era under william bennett.

also, the propaganda is intentionally addictive. smart people are as prone as other humans to the psychological weaknesses that allow compulsions to take hold like internet pornography, overeating, smoking, and watching mindless cute propaganda between dinner and bed every night.

also, uneducated people are overworked, underemployed with suffocating brains from their work, exhausted while raising kids and/or doing heavy manual work, apathetic due to despair, overweight due to stress eating and hence physically sluggish and inclined to prefer couch potatoship in the evenings, etc.

how about some more nuanced and careful attention to why people are so "taken in." what do we really know about this phenomenon? not as much as we need to.

some guesses/stabs: the liberal middle-class people who may have had private school educations, follow npr, read the nyt and the like are not hurting enough yet as a group to fully recognize the threats coming to the basic security they have always felt entitled to. the concept of denial seems useful here. (psychoanalystus, can you expound on it?) also they simply haven't noticed the relatively subtle corruption over recent years of these information sources. this is human nature, not to see what's going down. they will have to be deprived of a lot more before they wake up en masse to the reality of their situation. and there's nothing like the belief that if one tries hard enough, sacrifices enough of one's dignity and income, and behaves sufficiently soldierly, one might get a job again like the one one has lost, or at least still retain some of what one considers a decent lifestyle after age 65, to make a person afraid to step out and take action. one is still in the mindset that the neighbors must not know one is going into default on one's mortgage. not enough people have crossed the line where they stop feeling any shame over bankruptcy, default, being unemployed, having to work at the supermarket etc. to make a difference yet. for now, once they cross that line, they become badly dressed, angry victims who can be made to look crazy on a tv screen without even trying.

most of the people who lost their gumption for living due to the Great Depression have passed on, and many of their children as well. i imagine we still have a long way to go now before we regain our collective dignity (if we ever do) to the point where being unemployed and destitute does not deprive one of basic respect in our society.


for "compulsion" above please substitute "habits".

also this post was meant to as joining in the general discussion up to this point, not just a reply to the preceding post from reader "sadness."

SD : Wow. He's wasted. Seriously wasted. My guess is pharmaceuticals.


I think he's OD'd on Piety.

Despite all today's deeply felt and well intended comments, I have to be honest. Yes. I would still buy a newspaper from him . . .

. . . if I need something to read at lunch or on the subway and especially if there's a good scandal with photos of the woman in question, in a bikini. I do not approve of topless pics in a newspaper. I'm actually quite prude in real life.

And there is a talent for writing front page headlines. The immortal "Headless Body in Topless Bar" reaches back to the days of my youth. But until Junior tops that, he's got nothing on his Dad.


I like this excellent bit of British black humor from one of their newspapers. "Have you heard that Rupert Murdoch turned down a knighthood because he already had a KGB."


I notice one of the 'regrets' he has is the earlier settlement. 100K to a starlet, who needed the publicity anyway.

However, from a business perspective, News has done a great thing. The number has established a relatively low price point for all future settlements. That is, if someone demands enough money to make them seriously reconsider their lawbreaking newsgathering policy, their it will be a groan and eye roll moment.

I've often wondered who finances News Inc. I've heard rumors about Arabs and Russians, but no one seems to give it a good investigation. Curious.


What?! Now that's a mighty tasty morsel you've gone and tossed into the thread.

Because we do have information that Murdock is a TaxHavenMaven. And if one wanted to underwrite a 'newz' outfit that was full of global warming deniers, and forever keeping US politics in a nasty, shouty, sneering catfight, then what better way for an oiligarch of Russian origin, or an Arab relying on oil wealth to underwrite global warming denial propaganda to the biggest oil consumers on the planet: the US gas guzzling public.

My, oh, my….what a can of worms, snakes, and vipers you to point out…

Then your question, 'Why does this not get investigated?" takes on a whole new resonance. My goodness.


Having represented a newspaper company for 25 years I can guarantee you that everyone in the newsroom knew the wiretapping was taking place–especially the executives and managing editors. Reporters internally brag about their sources, and are constantly asked by those reading their articles (i.e., editors, lawyers, etc.), "how did you get that information?" "What is your source for that information?" The transparent cover provided in Murdoch's comments for Rebekah Brooks indicates she has the ability to assign culpability for these criminal actions to people in very high places. It is unbelievable to think executives with a journalistic background would remain in the dark about the criminal behavior their employees are engaging in. Unless there is a massive cover up, Ms. Brooks will come tumbling down with the rest.

Dan Duncan:

A hypothetical:

Would DSK, The Rogue, get to be DSK, The Head of IMF and Presidential Hopeful, in a culture that reveled in the tabloid "sensibility", like the U.K. (or U.S.), as opposed to the hush-hush sensibility of France?

And no, this isn't a backdoor defense of the scumbags at NOTW. They deserve prosecution. Vigorously.

It's just that over the past few weeks we've witnessed media failings (a redundancy, I know) in both cultures. [The UK/US failure is more repugnant, so I'm not implying equivalence.]

In the future (because it will happen again), should the government step in and shut down an outfit like NOTW?

If so, there is obviously great potential for the government to over-reach and kill free speech. How do we guard against this?

If not and these Scumbag Gossip Rags are simply left to the free market…will the market actually impose discipline the next go-round?

This time, we are shocked by the NOTW actions. Next time, not as much. Will the market simply "get used" to these deplorable actions? Are you comfortable with the Lack of Standard…ie the Relatavistic Sensibility of an ever-changing Market?

And what about Wikileaks? Any overlap here? Again, I am not implying equivalence. The point is…How far is too far? When is "private", not really private?

What if someone sets up WikiGossip? Remember, in the NOTW case, it's easy: We are talking about the invasion of the privacy of fallen heroes. What if, instead, the invasion occurred on the private correspondence of the Casey Anthony jurors? A WikiGossip site would do just fine…even though the transgression of hacking jurors emails is also very troubling.

Yeah, yeah, yeah…I know. Waaayyy too many questions. But at this point I'm desperate. Maybe…just maybe…it will elicit something more interesting the self-congratulatory tripe of fools announcing their TV viewing habits while theorizing about the inverse relationship between the number of blinks and the tendency toward psychopathic behavior.

And as I await further commentary…I'll be slamming my refresh button, blinking with the intense, twitchy furiosity of Charlie Sheen on a seven day coke-bender.

Anonymous Jones:

OK, this will be somewhat fun:

Q1, DSK: A bit like "when did you stop beating your wife?" Premise underlying question is somewhat questionable. This is from all your long experience in France reading French newspapers?

Q2, gov't shutdown: When was this suggested (other than in your comment)? I don't even know where this comes from. When has a gov't from a developed country just "shut down" a major newspaper? This is an immediate concern?

Q3, free speech, overreach: How about continuing to enforce the first amendment? Without vigilance, all our "rights" would disappear, regardless of what a piece of paper says. Paraphrasing the NRA, contracts don't force people to do things, people do.

Q4, market discipline: Surely, you jest? IBGYBG. Market constraints have continued to diminish rapidly as global and sector mobility has grown over the last few centuries, especially with the massive conglomerates and agency problems. These "constraint fairies" are not coming back.

Q5, "comfortability": There is a choice? No one has control of the world. We can choose to try to shape it in small ways; sometimes people succeed far beyond what is normal, but that is rare. Again, I question the presumption that there is no "shock." They had to shut down the f'ing paper there was so much shock. We're talking about this shutdown in the US…enough said.

Q6, privacy: It depends on what your definition of "is" is. I love how everyone went after Clinton for this. Hey, it *was* weeny-like, but he was *right*. "Is" can mean a number of things, including descriptions of recent past, "present" and future. Trust me, "privacy" is far more complicated than "is" and as much as you decry relativism, the semantics of any complicated concept is *always* relative to one's own place in, and perspective on, the world.

Q7, Wikigossip: Please tell me the name Casey Anthony didn't show up on this site. I'm going to be ill, but first…



He shrugs at 00:30 when he says that Rebekah Brooks' ethics "are very good."

I think this is all James' doing. He's trying to get her out of the way. Why else would he bother with this half-hearted defense? He's damning her with faint praise.

Is it fratricide when the one being killed is your father's daughter he never had?


I somehow doubt that one's "ethics being very good" gains a seat at Murdoch's table. It's not the sort of phrase they would privately use to praise each other, au contraire. Such noxious words probably caught in his throat – hence the uneasy shrug. He'll apologize to her later for having said them, I'm sure, and assure her that there's not a shred of evidence that damns her so.


Friends; Has anyone considered that the behaviour 'alleged' (clearing the message box on the girls cell phone, in the middle of a criminal investigation,) can be charged to someone as "obstruction of justice?" A felony charge in every jurisdiction. Knowing about and enabling such behaviour is "acessory to the fact." Keeping quiet about it is "acessory after the fact." If the UK governmant is pushed hard enough, someone is going to Dartmoor, not just Wormwood Scrubs.


Precisely. And just to clarify: Murdock clan to family of girl viciously murdered, "You know, if this horror drags out a few more days, we can eke out a bit more drama, emotion, and maybe profit from the sale of a few extra issues – or web updates." The worse it was for that family, arguably the more profitable it was for the Murdock group of 'assets' that were 'deployed' so surreptitiously.

And I'm not even going to touch on widows of the war dead (!).

If my profits were built on the emotional agonies of people that I didn't even know, perhaps I'd be disassociated as young James.

Meanwhile, the and Financial Times are sure looking like adults, and remind me never to play poker with Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger…nor with their reporter Nick Hayes.


Whoops. Not Nick 'Hayes'. Should have been Nick *Davies.*


As a writer in The Times (also Murdoch-owned) remarked, the Telegraph has made great play of this story, but its own best scoop in years came from buying a stolen CD.

The Guardian's best story in years had come from forging a letter on House of Commons writing paper. The Independent's star columnist has recently been exposed as being, shall we say, cavalier with the truth. All the rags are a bit crooked.

What's unforgiveable with this story is not that the misbehaviour was illegal, it's that it recognised no bounds of decency. If you hack the voicemail of celebs or politicians – the public's not much bothered.

But the murdered girl's – intolerable. These people make their living by entertaining the great unwashed with smut; for them to fail to foresee this sentiment was not just a crime, it was a blunder. Another blunder was the failure to see that when they swapped their political support from Labour to Conservative for the last election, they would no longer be protected by the same clannishness in the media.

I weep no tears for the Murdochs and their lackeys: the public may be being too excitable for my tastes, but I too would draw the line (I hope) at what these people did to Milly Dowler's phone. Sod 'em; let 'em retreat to the US or back to Oz after a spell in chokey. I only hope before they go they can release some good dirt on some more media figures: a good clear-out at the Guardian and the Beeb is probably overdue too. I only hope that we don't get lumbered with political action that makes it harder for journalists to investigate politicians.


Well, I wondered when 'Paddy Pantsdown' would speak up. And it appears there are more ghastly threads emerging; one person leads to another, who leads to…. a murderer… looks like shutting NoTW was probably something that seemed like 'strategic decisiveness' to James, but the leakage is spreading.

It has also emerged that Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister, received similar briefings to those given to Ashdown before the election, which he raised with Cameron only to be rebuffed by the prime minister who insisted it was right to give Coulson a "second chance". Senior Whitehall sources say that Clegg was stunned by what he was told but concluded, after the coalition deal was struck, that he was powerless to change Cameron's mind. "Clegg said: 'It is not up to me to tell the prime minister who to appoint as his director of communications'," said a source.

(I actually happen to agree with what appears to be Clegg's assessment that he could not go to the mat on Coulson, but what I find more than interesting is that Cameron wooed Murdock so aptly, then Murdock shifted his support to the Conservatives. Clegg came on like gangbusters out of nowhere, and topsy-turvy went Cameron's plans, no doubt. Since Clegg is one of the few potentially 'green' PM or Vice PM leaders on the globe, I'm quite intrigued in what happens here. And since he's a bit 'green', no doubt all the Murdock allies thought they could keep him completely powerless and tied up. This shifts that box of cards.)


It's just occurred to me: a friend would dearly like to see a few journalists from the Mail disgraced too. So I'll add them to my list.


According to Huffington Post, looks like "James Murdoch Could Face Criminal Charges In Phone Hacking Scandal":

Reply and i:

"It looks almost like a shampoo commercial. He makes me want to take care of myself."


James Murdoch is a little Christian Bale-y, it has to be said. His eyes are kind of black (which may be the lighting, of course), suggestive of enormous reserves of anger.

But what fun is to be had, watching Hugh Grant and Steve Coogan shred News Corpse journos on telly!


At 4:04, watch the loathsome Jon Gaunt of the Sun taunt the lovely Hugh re: BSkyB with "Who are you to say what people should and shouldn't watch?", while Hugh, with studied insouciance, replies, "Who is Murdoch to say who we should and shouldn't vote for through news?", which gets a big round of applause.

2) Then there's Steve Coogan on BBC Newsnight, talking about how he's delighted the "mysognist, xenophobic" NoTW is closing (at 2:34).

3) Later, in the same segment, Coogan de-bollocks Paul McMullen, ex-NoTW, repeating several times, "You're morally bankrupt."

Steve and Hugh are much smarter, prettier, and richer than the jealous, preening thickos who pass for journalists chez Murdoch. And much more importantly, they're in the right. I'm glad they've come out swinging.

(I wonder if the Guardian helped Hugh at all with his undercover work? He was at school with two senior Guardian journalists, Edward Pilkington and Julian Borger.)

What Watchdog How the Financial Press Has Failed the American Public Alternet

Investigative journalist Dean Starkman explains why the mainstream press is so soft on Wall Street.

January 9, 2013 |

From revelations about this week's hasty, multibillion-dollar bank settlements to AIG's brief threat to sue the federal government for its own $128-billion bailout (which the company contends wasn't as generous as other bailouts), 2013 is already shaping up to be another year of government-backed wins for Wall Street.

As the New York Times' Gretchen Morgenson wrote, "If you were hoping that things might be different in 2013 - you know, that bankers would be held responsible for bad behavior or that the government might actually assist troubled homeowners - you can forget it. A settlement reportedly in the works with big banks will soon end a review into foreclosure abuses, and it means more of the same: no accountability for financial institutions and little help for borrowers."

This type of clear condemnation of Wall Street and its lack of accountability remains a rare voice in mainstream media, with few willing to join Morgenson and Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi on their crusades against banking abuses.

The lack of outrage or investigation by mainstream media comes in stark contrast to the public response to the settlement announcements. The comments sections of settlement-related articles are bursting with scathing comments--including demands for both criminal prosecution for bankers and more investigative journalism in the U.S. In an LA Times poll, 94 percent of respondents said that this latest settlement agreement lacked appropriate transparency.

So if readers are hungering for more information and outrage, why is the mainstream press so soft on Wall Street? Is it the last three decades' rampant media consolidation, which has put 90 percent of the nation's media in the hands of only six major corporations? (That's down from 50 companies in 1983.) What about the increasing magazine and newspaper ad revenue coming directly from Wall Street? Or perhaps it's even due to a redefinition of what constititues financial journalism?

Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Dean Starkman, whose 2009 Columbia Journalism Review article "Power Problem" outlined just how badly the financial press failed in the lead-up to 2006, has some ideas.

Laura Gottesdiener: Thanks, Dean, for taking the time to talk. To start simple: In your mind, what's the role of the press--if it's doing its job?

Dean Starkman: To me, journalism is particularly important because it is the oxygen of democracy. At its best, it is the main thing that is capable of explaining complex problems to a mass audience.That's its most critical role--and its most difficult task.

Looking back over the 20th century, the great stories are the ones that pull the curtain back on things that are truly complex, baffling and dangerous problems. I'm thinking particularly of an iconic story that journalists stand up and salute: the Standard Oil series from 1902-1904. This knowledge allowed the public to participate in the question of trusts, and the rest is literally history. The government filed an anti-trust case, and Standard Oil was broken up in 1911. That's the gold standard, the benchmark for journalism.

LG: So how does this relate to today's financial press?

DS: The financial system is almost deliberately complex; there's that famous quote by the head of Morgan Stanley, when he said something along the lines of, "We create things that people don't understand on purpose."

To me the business press is put on earth to help the public understand complex problems, and certainly the mortgage frenzy was one of them. And that's where I have a bone to pick with the financial press.

LG: That's a nice way of putting it. In your piece you call the lead-up to 2006 a "general system failure" for the media, and wrote that the post-crash reporting gave the "short shrift to the breathtaking corruption that overran the mortgage business." You also diagnosed the financial press today with Stockholm Syndrome.

Recovered History Wall Street-Funded Self Help Propaganda Greased the Real Estate Bubble

I was passing through the Mojave Desert and by chance stopped by a local thrift store in Joshua Tree. I'm glad I did, because I spotted a book that I just had to own. At $0.50, it was priced to sell. And as you can tell from the title above, the book's a classic. It's bound to remain fresh and relevant through the ages-not as a useful guide to homeownership, but as a fossil record of the biggest real estate scam in the history of the United States.

A lot of people still wonder how and why so many millions of people bought such ridiculously overpriced homes and took out mortgages and loans they clearly could not afford?

Extra! Extra! Yasha Levine makes frontpage news in Victorville!

That's what I kept wondering when I moved out to Victorville back in the Spring of 2009 to do immersion reporting from the front line of the real estate meltdown. Located about 100 miles east of Los Angeles on the edge of the Mojave Desert, Victorville got higher and crashed harder, in terms of real estate, than almost any other place in California. It doubled its size to 100,000 in just eight short years, growing from an isolated hick outpost into a booming commuter suburb filled with the cheapest McTractHomes south of Fresno. By the time I got there, Victorville was a ruined city filled with empty master-planned communities, some of them half-built and abandoned, rotting in the sun. I spent nearly two years reporting on the real estate swindle out there, and I never could stop thinking about the central question: How the hell were people coerced into moving out here? Why would anyone think that buying a $500,000 house in a desert 100 miles away from Los Angeles be a good idea, no matter what kind of loan deal you got or how booming the market. What kind of propaganda were these people subjected to?

Well, this book provides a part of the answer: people were explicitly instructed to do so.

The Automatic Millionaire Homeowner hit the front bookcase displays at Barnes and Noble in March 2006, at the very top of the real estate market and just a few months before the whole thing crashed and burned. Its main message was simple: If you take out a mortgage to buy a home, you will always make money. There is no way you can lose-no matter when you buy, how much you pay or what type of loan you get. And the kicker is, both the book and the financial expert who wrote it were bankrolled by Wells Fargo and Bank of America.

This book is just one of dozens-if not hundreds-of similar self-help snake oil guides promising a sure bet system to get rich in real estate. But it's a good example of the massive propaganda effort financed by Wall Street that was designed to funnel as many people as possible into the mortgage meat grinder. The book was packed with blatant lies that seem so obvious and even comic in retrospect. The book was not put out by some shady fly-by-night operation, but by a supposedly credible financial expert who had the backing of the most well-known and respected banks, TV networks and newspapers.

But the whole thing was a fraud, shamelessly boosted by some of the biggest names in news media-none of whom have been held accountable for their role in defrauding millions of Americans.

So let's take a look...Crack open the book and turn to the introduction, it begins like this:

What if I told you the smartest investment you would ever make during your lifetime would be a home!

What if I told you that in just an hour or two I could share with you a simple system that would help you become rich through homeownership?

What if I told you that this system was called the Automatic Millionaire Homeowner-and that if you spent an hour or two with me, you could learn how to become one? [emphasis mine]

Would you be interested? Would you be willing to spend a few hours with me? Would you like to become an Automatic Millionaire Homeowner?

Interested? Intrigued? Want to know more? Well, turn a couple of pages and you get this:

As I sit here in August 2005, I have no idea when you will be reading what I'm writing. Maybe it's March 2006 (when this book is scheduled to be published)-by which time the real estate market could be slowing or cooling down to modest single-digit annual gains (or not). Perhaps this book was bought by a friend of yours who passed it along to you-and it's now 2007 and those once "certain" boom markets are going bust due to speculation. Or maybe the opposite has happened-interest rates have remained at historic lows, and home prices have continued their march upward.

In fact, it doesn't really matter when you happen to be reading this or what's going on right now in the markets. This book is not about the boom . . . or the busts. . . . What this book is about is the truth. And the truth is this:

Nothing you will ever do in your lifetime
is likely to make you as much money as
buying a home and living in it. [emphasis in the original]

What's this sure-fire system? Well, it's so simple it fits on the inside flap! Here's how you do it:

What Makes The Automatic Millionaire Homeowner Essential:

■ You don't need a big down payment to buy a home.

■ You don't need great credit.

■ You should buy even if you have credit-card debt.

■ You can buy a second home even if you're still paying off the first.

■ You can get started in any market-boom or bust.

■ It's easier to be a landlord than you think.

Just a few months after the book came out, the real estate market went into a death-spiral. Victorville and other Mojave Desert exurbs like Palmdale and Lancaster were packed to the brim with people who followed this book's advice to the letter. They took out no down payment adjustable rate mortgages, bought at the peak of bubble, had horrible credit scores, were struggling to make ends meet and were probably up the hilt in credit card debt. Over the next year and a half, home prices collapsed by 30% and just kept falling. By the time that I packed my bags and fled West towards the Pacific Ocean in 2010, homes that had sold for nearly $400,000 at the top of the market in 2006 couldn't find a buyer at $50,000 or $75,000. People were kicked out of their homes, lost all the "investment" payments they had made on their loans and had to find other places to live-rental homes if they were lucky; cars or tents at the hobo camp down on the banks of the Mojave River if they weren't.

The Corruption of the Financial Press A Look at Housing Wire FDL News Desk by David Dayen

March 25, 2011
Yesterday, I took John Carney of CNBC to task for his headline "Have Consumers Gone on Strike?" That represented a particularly myopic worldview in the financial press which is all too common. CNBC has long been criticized for such a perspective. But you also see in other parts of the financial press what amounts to basic corruption.

One such example is Housing Wire. This magazine and website bills itself as "financial news for the mortgage market," and for the most part reports on related events. But Paul Jackson, the founder and publisher of Housing Wire, writes editorials, and of late he has been particularly concerned with telling his readers that there's nothing of consequence in the foreclosure fraud issue, in particular the possibility that banks messed up their securitization processes and created clouded title issues on millions of properties.

That's his opinion and his right to print. But Jackson took this a step too far. He's had a long-running feud with Naked Capitalism's Yves Smith on the subject, culminating in a post where he intimated that a case in Alabama, ultimately unsuccessful, where the plaintiff asserted that a faulty securitization meant that her servicer could not prove they owned the note on the home, had to have been bankrolled by some higher-up looking to hurt the banking industry. "If I've learned anything over the years, it's this: always follow the money," he writes.

Morality and the accompanying emotions to that noble love of justice are simply a varnish for the fires of greed. In other words, everything is about the money, and if you can find a viable angle to make more of it than someone else. And I mean everything.

OK then, let's follow the money. What is Housing Wire, anyway? The principals of it and its parent company, the LTV Group, are Paul Jackson, and Richard Bitner. He used to be a subprime mortgage broker, and he wrote a book about it called Confessions of a Subprime Lender. Bitner has compared himself in interviews to a drug dealer for his career in the subprime industry.

The main shareholders in Housing Wire, and its publisher LTV Publishing, which is also an advertising/PR/marketing company, are:

Robert Jackson, Paul's father and a CEO at Jackson and Associates, an REO (real estate owned; it means a property owned by a bank or government entity after an unsuccessful foreclosure auction) lawyer; Berry Laws, a partner at Martin, Leigh, Laws & Fritzlen, a foreclosure mill law firm out of Kansas, linked to robo-signing, which also owns a title company; and Benny Nassiri, the owner of Asset Financial Network, which specializes in foreclosure properties. Basically, someone cashing in on the misery of others. She has also worked with IndyMac, the collapsed subprime lender.

(h/t bystander)

So this is the group around Housing Wire: foreclosure firms, an REO broker and an ex-subprime lender. If it is indeed "all about the money," there's a lot of guilt by association here. All of these people make money off the broken housing market and its constant stream of foreclosures.

But there's more. The leading advertiser for Housing Wire is, in fact, LPS (Lender Processing Services). You may have heard of them because they have been implicated in multiple criminal investigations for producing fake documents for foreclosure cases. LPS ran DocX, the company that sold "authentic" documents to foreclosure mill law firms at cut rates. And they continued this profit center even outside of DocX:

Questionable signing and notarization practices weren't limited to its subsidiary, called DocX, but occurred in at least one of LPS's own offices, mortgage assignments filed in county recorders' offices show. And rather than halt such practices after the federal investigation got underway, the company shifted the signing to firms with which it has close business ties. LPS provided personnel to work in the new signing operations, according to information from an LPS spokeswoman and court records including an October 21 ruling by a judge in Brooklyn, New York. Records in county recorders' offices, and in the judge's opinion, show that "robosigning" and preparation of apparently false documents went on at these sites on a large scale.

In one instance, it helped set up a massive signing operation at the nearby office of a major client, a spokeswoman for the client, American Home Mortgage Servicing, confirmed. LPS-hired notaries who worked there said in interviews that troves of documents were improperly handled. They said that about 200 affidavits per day were robosigned during the two months the two notaries remained there.

See also here and here. Yet Jackson has repeatedly defended LPS, its leading advertiser, from these charges, minimizing their legal exposure. One of the principals of the company, Benny Nassiri, also lists herself as affiliated with LPS.

Here's the point. Jackson has a habit of throwing around statements like "it's all about the money," but his organization really fails under that standard. It's filled with people from the mortgage industry who obviously have an incentive to minimize the conduct of the mortgage industry. It also makes its money from the mortgage industry. This is part and parcel of the financial press in all its sleaze.

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Tags: foreclosure fraud, housing, mortgages, traditional media, corruption, Housing Wire, Paul Jackson



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Last modified: March, 18, 2019