The Price Of Speaking Truth To Power: $80 Million

Holder Obama

Leftists love using the phrase “speaking truth to power.” But when Standard and Poor’s, the respected credit ratings service, told the truth about the federal government’s out-of-control spending, power came crashing down on its head.

In August 2011, S&P lowered America’s credit rating below AAA because it found that the government’s ability to manage its finances had become “less stable, less effective and less predictable.” This set off a firestorm within the White House. The Treasury Department publicly attacked the report, and then-Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner called the CEO of the company and threatened them. According to reports of the conversation, Geithner promised that the company would be “looked at very carefully” and would “be held accountable for that.” Harold McGraw III, the CEO of S&P’s parent company, said in a sworn deposition that Geithner said: “Such behavior could not occur without a response from the government.” The response came; and it was swift, harsh, and costly.

The Obama Administration unleashed Attorney General Eric Holder on the company. In August 2013, the Department of Justice sued the company for fraud in their ratings of mortgage-backed securities in the years leading up to the financial crisis of 2008. According to the DOJ’s theory, S&P ratings of the securities were tied to relationships they had with the investment firms. The government was threating the company with $5 billion worth of fines. There was no mention of the fact that other credit rating services also rated the same securities as safe. The New York Times noted that “S&P, one of three major agencies offering advice to investors about the quality of debt investments and the only one to face a Justice Department lawsuit, stood out as the rare company to actually follow through and fight the government.” It is clear that the actions of the DOJ were in response to the company’s decision to warn Americans about the coming debt crisis.

S&P decided to fight back by making motions in court demanding documents, emails, and other information connecting the White House, the Treasury Department, and the Department of Justice, in an effort to connect the dots between the credit downgrade and the actions of the DOJ. Not surprisingly, DOJ opposed those motions in court, castigating the effort as a “fishing expedition.” Turning the screws, the DOJ, again in the words of the New York Times, “invoked an obscure federal law passed a quarter-century ago after the savings and loan scandals. The law, the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act of 1989, or Firrea, requires a lower burden of proof than criminal charges and empowers prosecutors to demand unusually large penalties: up to $1.1 million per violation.”

Faced with the threat to the future stability of the company, S&P was forced to settle to get the Obama Administration off their backs. This week, we discovered that the cost of speaking “truth to power” is about $80 million — the amount of money S&P will be forced to fork over to the government for speaking the truth about the country’s financial mess.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

New York Times’ Dean Baquet: ‘We Will Fix The Things The Buyouts Broke’

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New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet issued a memo on Tuesday in which he admitted that last year’s buyouts hurt the company in many ways. But he vowed to fix those things in 2015:

“By any measure, 2014 was a dramatic year — a sudden leadership change ending with the departure of treasured colleagues. But those headlines belie what you all accomplished for readers and the world.

“We will fix the things the buyouts broke. We will look internally to fill important jobs. We will carefully and judiciously make a few outside hires. I know it seems incongruous to hire after reducing the staff. But if we stop bringing in new talent we run the risk of missing a generation of future stars.”

Indeed, 2014 was a tumultuous year for the company as the paper abruptly fired Baquet’s predecessor, Jill Abramson. The year also saw some 100 staffers taking buyouts or being laid off, thus robbing the Times of decades of institutional knowledge and hurting morale in the process.

While Baquet was optimistic about the future of the Times, he also noted that he couldn’t guarantee that further cuts wouldn’t occur, underscoring the fact that the paper still faces competitive challenges ahead.

The Times has largely staked its future on providing news digitally. But as the news becomes increasingly commoditized, it will become more difficult to profit from it and the company may well find itself facing the same financial problems it did just a few years ago.

Read the full memo here.

This article originally appeared at AIM.org and is reprinted here with permission.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

New York Times Finds Lawyers In League With States To Sue Companies

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The New York Times has found that lawyers have been in league with state attorney generals, primarily Democrats, to enrich their law firms and the state at the expense of the companies they target.

According to the Times, there exists a “furious competition between trial lawyers and corporate lobbyists to influence”  state attorney generals.

How does it work? Private lawyers first look for cases in which companies can be sued, then pass on the cases they discover to the state. The law firm agrees to do most of the work. In turn, the prestige of their case against a company is raised when the state signs on to the case. The firm takes a portion of the money from winning the case, typically 20 percent, and the state takes the rest.

The state attorney generals have benefited from tens of thousands of dollars in donations, according to the Times. Often the donations come in right before or after the firm signs a contract to represent the state.

Scott Harshbarger, a former Massachusetts attorney general, told the Times:

“This has gotten out of hand. And it seriously threatens the perception of integrity and professionalism of the office, as it raises the question of whether attorneys are taking up these cases because they are important public matters, or they are being driven more by potential for private financial gain.”

Some state attorney generals defend the practice, saying that working with outside attorneys is the only way for them to deal with the hordes of corporate lawyers that defend the companies.

One victory for companies came in Louisiana, where Governor Bobbi Jindal signed legislation against the state working with outside law firms against pharmaceutical companies. $294 million in settlements had been collected from pharmaceutical companies in Louisiana by Attorney General Buddy Caldwell since 2011 with the help of outside law firms.

 

h/t Newsmax

Photo Credit: Marc Genre (cropped) (Flickr)

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Media Elitists On Trial And On Ballot!

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A SuperPac called Conservative War Chest is running TV ads that expose the liberal media’s role in deciding elections. One ad running in North Carolina is a blistering two minute referendum on the “corruption of American journalism” by the ‘Media Elitists Destroying Independent-thinking America’, or just MEDIA for short.

Conservative War Chest spokesman Mike Flynn said, “Conservatives can never gain final victory until they confront the root problem of news organizations who are the real opposition party in America,” who added, “This content-heavy spot puts before the public case studies that establish these organizations as partisan, not journalistic organizations that are dedicated to activism, not fearless pursuit of the truth.”

Mike reminds Americans that at one point in our history, the news media valiantly stood up to corrupting forces in America. But today, the MEDIA is the corrupting force in America. Instead of exposing evil, they join in lockstep groveling at the feet of big government bureaucrats to gain regulatory approval and favorable treatment for their businesses.

The new ads show specific, concrete examples of news executives and partisan reporters trying to hide the truth from the American people. Flynn contends that since the MEDIA play such a large role trying to influence our elections,  they should be on the ballot.

The ad singles out the New York Times’ cover-up of the IRS scandal. It also reminds Americans of Sharyl Attkisson’s coverage of the Benghazi scandal for CBS, as well as the ABC smears of the Tea Party including George Stephanopoulus and Candy Crowley acting as Democrat surrogates in Presidential debates. And finally, it exposes Comcast, NBC, and MSNBC as a partisan left-wing attack machine with MSNBC news executive Phil Griffin being the ring leader in a suit.

The question is: Will Americans vote in lock-step with liberal choices served up by the MEDIA? or will they break from the pack and think for themselves and vote for conservative candidates who will help restore a once-great America? Tuesday will tell.

Here’s the ad:

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Watch: What This Former Police Chief Reveals About D. Wilson Could Make Ferguson Erupt With Rage

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On Monday, Western Journalism posted a widely read story about new forensic evidence that’s a game-changer for Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, the lawman who shot and killed Michael Brown.

The essence of that evidence — Brown’s blood was found on Wilson’s gun, uniform, and police cruiser. This supports Wilson’s version of events — that Michael Brown reached into the patrol car and tried to wrestle the officer’s gun away. Brown was said to have been shot once during the scuffle.

The wounded teen then took off, Wilson reportedly emerged from the police vehicle, and the ensuing confrontation left Brown dead in the street of multiple gunshots.

The disclosure of that “blood” evidence — apparently from unnamed insiders familiar with the ongoing federal civil rights investigation into the controversial case — came in a rather strangely timed New York Times report. The reason for that report is now being addressed by the former police chief in St. Louis, of which Ferguson is a suburb.

KSDK-TV reports that the former top cop believes more information about the federal as well as the state investigations of the racially charged incident will be leaked out piece by piece.

Why? To prepare the Ferguson community — and especially the insistent protestors and angry activists who have demanded officer Wilson be charged with murder — in the likely event that no charges will be filed against him:

Former St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch believes more information will be leaked out to the media by a government source.

Fitch says this strategy has been used before, “Assuming that the article is correct my belief is that there will be future articles written as probably from the same federal source that will let out a little information each time as it gets closer to the actual announcement of the verdict or charges or no charges.”

Meantime, mailonline.com has an exclusive interview with Michael Brown’s aunt, whose feelings of extreme bitterness bleed through her every word in reaction to the New York Times story. It’s the kind of emotionally charged rhetoric that has fueled the street violence so often seen in the wake of the Brown shooting:

Speaking to MailOnline [Sheryl] Davis said: “It’s murder and they will feel and see the wrath of God’s vengeance come upon them in a mighty way, just as he promised all who do evil in his sight.”

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom