>Media FAIL

>Turns out “Climategate” was a manufactured controversy and the media regrets the error:

But not only did British investigators clear the East Anglia scientist at the center of it all, Phil Jones, of scientific impropriety and dishonesty in April, an investigation at Penn State cleared PSU climatologist Michael Mann of “falsifying or suppressing data, intending to delete or conceal e-mails and information, and misusing privileged or confidential information” in February. In perhaps the biggest backpedaling, The Sunday Times of London, which led the media pack in charging that IPCC reports were full of egregious (and probably intentional) errors, retracted its central claim—namely, that the IPCC statement that up to 40 percent of the Amazonian rainforest could be vulnerable to climate change was “unsubstantiated.” The Times also admitted that it had totally twisted the remarks of one forest expert to make it sound as if he agreed that the IPCC had screwed up, when he said no such thing.

Of course, we’ll still hear about “Climategate” in Bill Kristol columns and Fox News reports for years and years to come. Because the point was to discredit scientists, not get at any truth or fact. That’s the point of these smears, isn’t it?

Meanwhile, it turns out that ACORN has also been cleared:

A preliminary report from the General Accounting Office has cleared ACORN of allegations that it misused millions of federal dollars over a four-year span.

According to the report, nine federal agencies gave the community group more than $40 million in eight housing-related grants from 2005 to 2009. There were no problems with seven of the eight grants, and ACORN supplied correct documentation for the eighth after it was notified the paperwork was missing. The GAO said it found no evidence of fraud or misuse of federal dollars.

ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis said the report “does nothing more than add to the growing list of government entities who have vindicated us,” according to The Hill. ACORN has vigorously disputed charges that surfaced after a video sting by conservative activists showed low-level ACORN staffers giving tax advice regarding a prostitution ring. The group also faced charges from conservative media of voter fraud after the 2008 election.


A December 2009 report commissioned by the House Judiciary Committee found ACORN violated no federal regulations. That study, conducted by the non-partisan Congressional Research Service, also found that ACORN correctly used all federal dollars it received and did not improperly register any voters during the 2008 presidential election. An investigation by the California attorney general reached the same conclusion. An independent investigator hired by ACORN also cleared the organization of wrongdoing.

ACORN is now suing to get its federal funding restored. Really, they should sue Andrew Breitbart and his minions for slander. (Incidentally, back in May, the New York Times issued a correction for its erroneous reporting on the James O’Keefe/ACORN affair.)

Again, it doesn’t matter: ACORN will forever be synonymous with something unsavory in peoples’ minds, and none of our gutless Democrats have the spine to go to bat for a bunch of community organizers who helped a bunch of poor people with their legal troubles. I mean, who gives a shit, right?

So with two right-wing smears down the toilet (and let’s not forget the whole “Saddam had WMDs” thing), all we can hope is that our establishment media has learned a lesson here. It’s looking doubtful. Recent events indicate the “liberal” media runs for the fainting couches when the right wing tells them to. (More here.)


Filed under ACORN, climate change, media

11 responses to “>Media FAIL

  1. >It's nice that these scientists have been vindicated. But it amazes me that such a non-story as climategate could gain any credence whatsoever. Even if two guys had been a little bit overzealous on pushing their viewpoint, how could that possibly negate over 50 years of research by the world's leading climatologists? Mind-boggling. I mean, nobody's that stupid, right?So, my sister-in-law sits on the water board of a city in the pacific northwest. She's quite intelligent and well-spoken. She knows my wife and I are democrats, liberals, whatever. She enjoinders, "So, what do you guys think of this whole climategate thing?" We just shook our heads and laughed. Didn't say a single word.As far as FOX news. That's the Sarah Palin-Karl Rove network. I would trust the Soviet era propaganda arm "Granma" as a source more than them.

  2. >ACORN will be synonymous with an organization that *forced* banks to give sub-prime loans to people that couldn't afford them. They *forced* them by standing in banks and picketing, not unlike SIEU pickets.They will then be synonymous with Bertha Lewis being interviewed and saying that because they couldn't afford their homes they should be allowed to squat in them and not have the bank foreclose. She insisted that they were paying their bills (just not their mortgages) and the bank had no right to take those homes. This is just not how the world works. That is the evil that ACORN perpetrates to me. And nobody whispered in my ear with lies and untruths. I've seen the videos. Just another case of someone taking from someone else because they feel like they are entitled and ACORN helps them do it.

  3. >No Patrick, ACORN will be synonymous with right wing smear mongering to hurt those who are easy targets. The loans that defaulted and caused our economic meltdown were not the small community loans that right wingers like to blame. Try blaming the greedy predatory bankers who blossomed under an atmosphere of deregulation and the idiots who though "the free hand of the market" would save us all. Blame Alan Greenspan who finally admits he "found a flaw" in his world view.

  4. >From the Newsweek article:"As I wrote last summer in a story about why people believe lies even when they’re later told the truth, sometimes people’s mental processes simply go off the rails."This nicely explain Sarah Palin's fan club.

  5. JB

    >blossomed under an atmosphere of deregulation and the idiots who though "the free hand of the market"They blossomed under loosening of lending restrictions.http://www.nytimes.com/1999/09/30/business/fannie-mae-eases-credit-to-aid-mortgage-lending.htmlWhich continued into the Bush admin. The blossoming was due to banks ability to sell these loans to GSE's and not have to worry about the risk. "Eager to put more low-income and minority families into their own homes, the agency required that two government-chartered mortgage finance firms purchase far more "affordable" loans made to these borrowers."http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/06/09/AR2008060902626.htmlThat's not the "free hand of the market."

  6. >JB:I'm not sure that we are talking about the same thing. I'm talking about the Community Reinvestment Act which conservatives have blamed for the subprime mortgage crisis, saying the government "forced" banks to make risky loans. In fact, the opposite is true: despite the fact that the Bush Administration weakened the CRA, there was still more supervision of CRA loans. On top of which, as this Business Week article outlines:"… most subprime loans were made by firms that aren’t subject to the CRA. University of Michigan law professor Michael Barr testified back in February before the House Committee on Financial Services that 50% of subprime loans were made by mortgage service companies not subject comprehensive federal supervision and another 30% were made by affiliates of banks or thrifts which are not subject to routine supervision or examinations. As former Fed Governor Ned Gramlich said in an August, 2007, speech shortly before he passed away: “In the subprime market where we badly need supervision, a majority of loans are made with very little supervision. It is like a city with a murder law, but no cops on the beat.” "Not surprisingly given the higher degree of supervision, loans made under the CRA program were made in a more responsible way than other subprime loans. CRA loans carried lower rates than other subprime loans and were less likely to end up securitized into the mortgage-backed securities that have caused so many losses, according to a recent study by the law firm Traiger & Hinckley (PDF file here)."If you want to blame the government, this article has some good targets:"Better targets for blame in government circles might be the 2000 law which ensured that credit default swaps would remain unregulated, the SEC’s puzzling 2004 decision to allow the largest brokerage firms to borrow upwards of 30 times their capital and that same agency’s failure to oversee those brokerage firms in subsequent years as many gorged on subprime debt. (Barry Ritholtz had an excellent and more comprehensive survey of how Washington contributed to the crisis in this week’s Barron’s.)"As for blaming Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, that's also a non-starter.

  7. >Blame sub-prime lending, not CRA: "Even efforts after 2001 to press Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to buy sub-prime loans, as part of the Bush administration's "Ownership Society," do not implicate CRA. Those who scapegoat CRA often contend that it was a reckless push for homeownership — by both the Clinton and Bush administrations — that led to the sub-prime crisis. But while homeownership increased significantly during the Clinton years, sub-prime (and also Alt-A) lending was still under 10 percent of mortgage originations when President Bill Clinton left office. President George W. Bush's further pressure for homeownership, which included substantial pressure on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to purchase loans, in particular low-documentation loans, was dubious policy, but cannot be blamed on CRA. In 2006, the height of the sub-prime boom, almost two-thirds of the high-cost loans made were for purposes other than the purchase of a home by an owner-occupant — they were mostly refinancings to extract equity. But even this overstates the case against homeownership. As the Center for Responsible Lending has demonstrated, between 1998 and 2006, only about 9 percent of sub-prime loans went to first-time homebuyers.Note also that CRA applies only to banks and savings institutions ("thrifts"). It does not apply to credit unions, independent mortgage companies, or investment banks. And banks and thrifts get credit under CRA only for lending to low- and moderate-income borrowers or in low- and moderate-income census tracts in their assessment areas, broadly the area near their branches which, for large institutions, generally includes entire metropolitan areas. This is critically important to understanding the role of CRA in the current debacle. When CRA was enacted, there were approximately 18,000 banks and thrifts, which made about 70 percent of all home-mortgage loans, and almost all loans were originated by branches and thus were covered by CRA. By 2006, there were 8,700 banks and thrifts, with a market share of about 43 percent. Even adding the share of their CRA-covered subsidiaries (15 percent), this was a marked decline."

  8. >I think there is a difference between giving something to people and convincing them that they can pay for it. Also, How do the intelligent people in this country think that the housing boom was being fueled? Where were the buyers coming from? If there are no buyers; there are no homes being built and there is no housing boom plus there are many people out of work. The republicans wanted it to hold together until the election and that is that.

  9. >Which continued into the Bush admin. The blossoming was due to banks ability to sell these loans to GSE's and not have to worry about the risk.===============================The Housing Bubble was due to crappy underwriting, unchecked greed, and Wall Steet CMBS and CDO issuance, JB.With a huge helping of credit default "insurance" layered on top.I work in commercial real estate, I saw what happened. And I'm sick of discredited AEI propaganda being spouted by ignorant pricks.~

  10. >The housing boom was fueled by the trading of mortgage derivatives, which put pressure on lenders to produce more mortgages to bundle into derivatives. They did this by falsifying paperwork.The idea that banks being forced to lend to minorities fueled this crisis does not survive scrutiny. Bad mortgages were issued for commercial buildings as well as residential and to all sectors of society. Everyone was buying more house than they could afford because lenders needed to feed the derivatives beast.Minorities and poor people do not have the power to crash the global economy.

  11. >Minorities and poor people do not have the power to crash the global economy.Wouldn't it be cool if they did though? Way to stick it to the man!