The Latest From Hackwatch

Credulous Press Shouldn’t Buy That Binance Will Be OK

Overemphasizing the fines leveled against the crypto exchange ignores the true point of the settlement: regulatory compliance.

Julian Scoffield, December 8th, 2023

Late last month, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that it had reached a plea deal with Binance Holdings Limited, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, and its founder and CEO, Changpeng Zhao (known as CZ). Most notably, the settlement will… Read more

CFPB Under Siege and a Note on Henry Kissinger

Corporate shills are not moderates, no matter what the mainstream media tells you. Plus some final words on the least moral “sage” ever.

Vishal Shankar and Kenny Stancil, December 1st, 2023

It’s been a busy week in Washington, from the death of Henry Kissinger (more on that later), to the looming expulsion of George Santos from the House of Representatives, to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s long-awaited subpoenas of Harlan Crow and Leonard Leo. You’d be forgiven if you missed another major event on the Hill this week: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Rohit Chopra’s semi-annual report to Congress… Read more

Biden Should Double Down on Backing Unions Against Greedy Bosses

More Picket Lines, More Applause Lines

Dylan Gyauch-Lewis, November 17th, 2023

The past twelve months have put on full display a newly energized, resurgent labor movement. From railroads to Hollywood and just about everywhere in between, workers have felt emboldened to strike and fight for what they need in new contracts. Even though they haven’t won anywhere near everything they wanted, this still feels like a genuine turning point after decades of decline in organized labor. Unions are now hugely popular and among the most trusted and supported institutions in the country, and they show no signs of slowing down… Read more

Don’t Roll The Credits On Hollywood’s Labor Uprising Yet

Thoughts on the summer of strikes, the rise of the machines, and coming attractions.

Vishal Shankar, November 17th, 2023

A REALPAGE-TURNER: Hack Watch readers might remember our previous issue on RealPage, the rental software company that helped a cartel of corporate landlords collude on rent hikes. ProPublica reported yesterday that the Department of Justice has officially backed a massive tenant antitrust lawsuit against the company’s rent-gouging scheme (read the full filing here). This news is the latest reason why mainstream outlets must stop quoting RealPage executives like Jay Parsons as neutral, credible sources on housing issues. (If you’re not blocked by Jay on Twitter like we are, consider asking him what he thinks of ProPublica’s new scoop!)… Read more

Hurricane Fain: A Post Mortem Of The Coverage Of The UAW Strikes

Chris Lewis, November 3rd, 2023

In this week’s Hack Watch, we look back at some of the worst coverage the United Auto Workers (UAW) endured while fighting for improved working conditions, higher wages, and stronger benefits.  From Steve Ratner to Jim Cramer, media figures (and industry officials) maligned the union and the “boss” Shawn “Hurricane” Fain. Now the strike is over, it’s time we really take a look at some of the terrible coverage the strikes got… Read more

Larry Summers And The Crypto Con

Don’t forget who helped legitimate the crypto ponzi scheme.

Dylan Gyauch-Lewis, October 27th, 2023

This morning, my colleagues Julian Scoffield and Henry Burke have a piece out in The American Prospect about Larry Summers and the ever growing but little known ties he has to an array of shady financial companies. The latest development is that Digital Currency Group (DCG), a firm that Summers advised for years, and its subsidiary Genesis Global Trading now face prosecution from the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and the New York Attorney General for fraud. Oh, and the Department of Justice has been investigating since earlier this year. It’s getting hard to keep track… Read more

Hollywood Bosses Fight SAG-AFTRA With PR Flacks’ Help

The hired guns at the Levinson Group are still helping the AMPTP block a fair contract with workers.

Vishal Shankar, October 20th, 2023

In case you’d forgotten, Hollywood is still on strike.

Though the Writers Guild of America (WGA) won its historic 148-day walkout for better compensation and working conditions, the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) remains on strike. The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), the trade association representing the major Hollywood Studios, abruptly broke off negotiations with the 160,000-member actors guild on October 11th, just nine days after negotiations began (and 89 days after the strike began). As the SAG-AFTRA strike nears its 100th day, talks between the two parties have yet to resume (the AMPTP’s hand has notably been strengthened by California Governor Gavin Newsom’s cowardly decision to veto a SAG-AFTRA-endorsed bill making striking workers eligible for unemployment benefits)… Read more

How Do You Get Tricked By The Effective Altruist Schtick When The Guy Is In Jail?

Somehow, Author Michael Lewis Has Fallen For SBF’s Unkempt, Well-Meaning Genius Gimmick That Beguiled Most Of DC And The Media. He’s Held On To This Idea Almost A Year Since Bankman-Fried Was Exposed.

Henry Burke, October 6th, 2023

Last November, Sam Bankman-Fried’s empire, built on crypto and fraud, collapsed around him, leaving a million or more FTX users without access to their accounts, unsure what, if any, of their assets they’d see again. The silver lining of the incident was supposed to be that the idea that the young, slovenly dressed, disengaged, and unprofessional tech CEO archetype who was a genius visionary had finally been put to bed. But this week, author Michael Lewis, famous for publishing The Blind Side, The Big Short, and Moneyball, revealed that he was, somehow, the most gullible man alive… Read more

Hey MSNBC—Stop Booking Corporate Hack Neal Katyal

The ex-Solicitor General is a protector of oligarchy, not democracy.

Vishal Shankar, October 2nd, 2023

Last month, former Biden press secretary Jen Psaki had a familiar face on her new MSNBC show: former acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal. In an extremely chummy interview, Katyal (fresh off a harrowing trip to Burning Man) dished out snarky criticism of Trump’s suggestion that outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mark Milley should be executed, saying “I don’t think Mr. Bone Spurs is in any position to criticize a member of our military… Read more

Harvard Professor Uses This One Weird Trick To Sound Smart

Predicting things accurately is hard and saying there are 50/50 odds makes it sound like you’re just guessing. Why not say “there’s a one in three chance” instead?

Henry Burke, September 22nd, 2023

According to many in the media, Lawrence “Larry” Summers is an economic Nostradamus. He single-handedly predicted inflation. His clairvoyance has been praised by all sides. The Wall Street Journalwrote “Larry Summers Nailed Inflation”, The Boston Globe stated “Larry Summers was right on inflation” and New York Magazine said, “Maybe We Should Have Listened To Larry Summers On Inflation.” They are, I have to admit, all partially right. Larry Summers did predict inflation. In March 2021, Summers predicted a ⅓ chance of stagflation – a combination of inflation and economic contraction… and a ⅓ chance of a recession, and a ⅓ chance of no inflation and steady economic growth. In short, he predicted every possible outcome and was still only partially correct on one of his 3 guesses… Read more

Won’t Economists Think of the Children?!?

It’s past time to consider what concerns around social spending do to our everyday lives.

Dylan Gyauch-Lewis, September 15th, 2023

Earlier this week, new data on childhood poverty was released, confirming what everyone already suspected: there were far, far more impoverished children in America in 2022 than there were in 2021. In fact, more than twice as many. The rate of child poverty increased from a historic low of 5.2 percent in 2021 to 12.4 percent in 2022, a staggering year-over-year increase of 138 percent. According to UNICEF data, there are some 73.6 million children in the United States, meaning that this past year saw approximately 5.3 million children fall beneath the poverty line. For perspective, 5.3 million people is more than the populations of 28 states. That’s like the entire population of Minnesota going from above the poverty line to below it in twelve months… Read more

Please Stop Bringing Jim Cramer On To Talk About Labor Unions

In this week’s Hack Watch, I took a look at what the media has been saying about the potential auto workers’ strike.

Chris Lewis, September 8th, 2023

The “Summer of Strikes” (Or, as the New Yorker has called it, “Hot Labor Summer”) has garnered significant media attention and made workers rights a major topic of public discourse. Whether it’s discussing both the writer and/or actors’ strike(s) over wages and job security, the narrowly avoided UPS strike over pay and working conditions, or the looming United Auto Workers (UAW) strike against the “Big Three” Detroit automakers (General Motors (GM), Ford, and Stellantis) over their next contract, odds are you have subjected to the media discussion of the strikes (and much of it has not been great, to put it kindly). Let’s take a step back, look how we got here, examine some of the UAW’s demands, and then look at how the media has covered it all… Read more

Don’t Fall For Hollywood Bosses’ New PR Spin.

Instead of cutting a fair deal with writers and actors, the AMPTP has hired new strike-busting comms consultants. Their spin campaign is off to a pathetic start.

Vishal Shankar, September 1st, 2023

Today marks the 122nd day of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike and 48th day of the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) strike. The dual work stoppages have brought Hollywood to a standstill, with production halted on films and television programs, and premieres and other promotional events either scaled back or canceled. Both guilds are striking over demands that are more than reasonable, particularly given studio executives’ record pay. These demands include fair compensation for streaming media (particularly better residuals, which currently pale in comparison to what they are for network and cable broadcasts), robust studio support for health and retirement funds, and safeguards around the use of artificial intelligence. (For more on why WGA and SAG-AFTRA are on strike, read the excellent reporting of Jacobin’s Alex Press)… Read more

Yet Another Reason To Ignore The Hacks At CFRB

If A Republican Senator Tags You In His Tweet Calling For Social Security Cuts You’re Worth Ignoring

Henry Burke, August 29th, 2023

Joe Biden has no interest in an Obama-style grand bargain to cut Social Security, but Republicans on Capitol Hill are still searching for neoliberal, ostensibly Democratic partners to force bipartisan cuts to the program. On Friday, August 18th, Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) took time out of his August recess to tweet “The 2020 election was not stolen, but Social Security is going insolvent. That is what we should be talking about.” A Republican senator advocating Social Security cuts is nothing new, but in a reply to his first tweet, Cassidy attempted to start a conversation within the Beltway by tagging more than a dozen “wonks,” wannabe wonks, and opinion columnists. Among them were two purportedly nonpartisan hacks known for their influence over moderate Democrats — Maya MacGuineas and Marc Goldwein of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget… Read more

Lesson Number #8976829 That The Media Has Not Learned Since 2016

Republicans Posit Dangerous Policy Proposals And The Media Still Only Cares About Performance.

Chris Lewis, August 25th, 2023

In this week’s hack watch: I’ll break down the Republican Presidential debate, which I watched so you don’t have to…and honestly…you didn’t miss out. 

Ah yes, the Republican Presidential debate. A once weighty event— that allowed serious conservatives seeking to be the leader of the free world to pitch their policy platforms and lay out plans to make Americans’ lives better— has devolved into a cacophony of catchy one-liners and catty bickering best suited for the Real Housewives of New JerseyRead more

Memo to the Media: Stop Quoting RealPage

A company under federal antitrust investigation for helping landlords jack up rents is not a reliable or independent source.

Vishal Shankar and Kalimah Muhammad, August 18th, 2023

If you’ve been reading about America’s rental housing crisis lately, there’s one company you may have seen frequently quoted in the press: RealPage. The property management software company is regularly cited by the media as a credible source of data and analysis on the rental housing crisis. Many of these quotes come courtesy of RealPage’s chief economist Jay Parsons, a former Dallas Morning News reporter who has quickly become the media’s go-to “explain the rent numbers” guy… Read more

Stop Trying To Dunk On Consumers

Let’s just admit economic media’s talking heads are out of touch.

Dylan Gyauch-Lewis, August 14th, 2023

Back when this newsletter was still getting off the ground, I wrote a column about how the media was ganging up on workers by platforming economic pundits excitedly calling for millions of Americans to be laid off and undermining rail workers’ case for going on strike. That very same day, our Senior Fellow (then Research Director) Max Moran ran a piece in The American Prospect discussing former Federal Reserve official Richard Clarida’s jocular, aloof tone when discussing condemning millions of workers to unemployment… Read more

Mainstream Media Can’t Keep Losing the Money Trail

We Need to Be Direct About Corporations’ Actions & Incentives.

Emma Marsano, August 4th, 2023

Amid this week’s record temperaturesmany mainstream outlets covered a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll, which found that almost three quarters of Republicans prioritize economic growth over addressing climate change. Further, almost half of Republicans said climate change would not have a significant impact on their communities. These statistics run counter to Americans’ opinions overall, with a solid majority believing that addressing climate change is worth some negative impact on the economy, and that climate change will impact their lives… Read more

The Democratic Party Has Moved Past Larry Summers. Why Can’t The Media?

Reporters Need To Toss Outdated Rolodexes And Contact New Economic Minds. If Summers Can’t Even Stand Moderate Democratic Policy Priorities, How Can He Be A “Democratic” Talking Head?

Henry Burke, July 28th, 2023

Earlier this week, Former Secretary of the Treasury Larry Summers joined the Peterson Institute for International Economics for a discussion about American industrial and foreign policy. Summers served as the Democratic counterweight to George W. Bush’s U.S. Trade Representative, Robert Zoellick… Read more

Can We Keep This Anonymous?

I’m Threatening People With Homelessness But Don’t Want To Be Known For My Cruelty.

Henry Burke, July 21st, 2023

Irresponsible press coverage isn’t limited to Washington as Hollywood journalists take cues from Trump’s White House Press Corps by providing anonymity to sources where there should be none. While the entertainment media has been generally bad at covering the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and SAG-AFTRA strikes (including an instance where Deadline was forced to publicly apologize for misconstruing the words of actor Matt Damon,) giving a studio executive carte blanche to publish a one-sided management propaganda piece while remaining anonymous is a new low… Read more

The Crypto Industry Thinks Gary Gensler Should Recuse Himself From Enforcement Actions.

Pay them no mind.

Timi Iwayemi, July 14th, 2023

Late last month, the Blockchain Association released a paper and Fortune op-ed outlining a legal case for Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chair Gary Gensler to recuse himself from the agency’s enforcement actions. It’s a nonsensical demand based on a curious reading of the Wells process, which guides most SEC enforcement actions. This sort of half-baked argument should have no place in serious media outlets. It’s a public disservice when editors platform industry voices that simply aim to undermine much needed corporate enforcement… Read more

The Supreme Legislature…Err…Court

It’s Getting Harder to Tell the Difference

Dylan Gyauch-Lewis, July 7th, 2023

As June rolled to a close last week, so did the Supreme Court’s session. This latest round of verdicts largely cemented the court’s rightward swing, which has been the case since Trump reshaped the court’s dynamic with the appointment of three conservatives to the bench. While nothing can outdo the shock of last year’s overturning of Roe v. Wade (and threatening other rights based on an implied right to privacy, including same-sex and interracial marriage), the court’s contempt for the public has also reflected in its clear mission to hollow out the administrative stave by stripping the federal government of the tools required to protect Americans from rapacious corporate interests… Read more

The Dangerous Cult Of The Entrepreneurial “Innovator”

It shouldn’t take a catastrophe for reporters to critically engage with entrepreneurial notions of so-called innovation.

Julian Scoffield, June 30th, 2023

The now-wrecked Titan submersible has dominated headlines in the U.S. and internationally for the past two weeks. On Sunday June 18, Stockton Rush, Hamish Harding, Paul-Henri Nargeolet, and Shahzada and Suleman Dawood embarked on their journey to see the ruins of the RMS Titanic. By the following day, the submersible had lost contact with its surface-level guide ship, setting off a frenzy of rescue efforts by international governments and private actors alike. On Thursday, June 22, after four days of unsuccessful searching, debris from the Titan was found and its five passengers were officially pronounced dead… Read more

Republican CFPB Opponents Are Crooked Corporate Shills

Every word from their mouths is paid for by Big Business. But the mainstream media won’t follow the money.

Vishal Shankar, June 16th, 2023

This week, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Rohit Chopra delivered his semi-annual report to Congress. Chopra, as I’ve written before, is a champion for everyday Americans. In just two years on the job, he’s hit repeat-offenders like TransUnion and Wells Fargo with record fines and lawsuits, stopped scammers from preying on veterans and the elderly, and returned $2.6 billion to defrauded consumers. Recently, he’s led the charge against junk fees and spearheaded a rule to root out lending discrimination against women and minority-owned small businesses (the “1071 Rule”)… Read more

End Crypto’s Presumption Of Legitimacy and Other Quick Hits

It’s Time That The Media Accept What Even Wall Street And Venture Capitalists Have – Crypto Is One Massive Grift. Those Involved With It Should Be Treated Accordingly.

Henry Burke, June 9th, 2023

This week the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced lawsuits against both Binance and Coinbase – the world’s largest and second-largest cryptocurrency exchanges respectively. The SEC has taken its time to build the caselaw needed to go after these massive cryptocurrency exchanges and it has spent the past two years winning 130 cases related to digital assets. While some have attacked this process, SEC Chair Gary Gensler understood the need for legal precedent before going after the crypto industry’s largest fish. After years of catching minnows, Gensler clearly feels he is finally in the position to crack down on the entire crypto ecosystem that has flourished by plainly violating securities law… Read more

Larry Summers Thinks Starving Older Americans Serves A “Useful Function”

Summers’ evaluation of the deal President Biden struck with House Speaker McCarthy includes tepid support for work requirements.

Julian Scoffield, June 2nd, 2023

Earlier this week, Harvard University Professor and extramural extraordinaire Lawrence “Larry” Summers gave the opening speech at a joint conference hosted by the Peterson Institute of International Economics and the International Monetary Fund. The event, titled “Rethinking fiscal policy — global perspectives,” was an opportunity for researchers to gather and discuss the impacts of interventions taken by various governments around the world in response to the COVID-19 pandemic… Read more

Everyone’s So Worried About The President Getting Sued About the Debt Ceiling, No One Seems to Have Noticed He Already Was

Plus, the contradictions of objectively reporting on non-objective scholarship.

Dylan Gyauch-Lewis and Julian Scoffield, May 26th, 2023

As the ominous X-date approaches—the date when the United States will hit the debt ceiling—the media can focus on little else. Unfortunately, as we’ve covered before, much of the coverage is treating the situation as a game of political chicken. Far too many journalists are breaking out their preferred horse-race style coverage as if this is just another national political story. But it isn’t, as The American Prospect’s David Dayen has explained. Holding the debt limit hostage is a departure from the political norm; it is not just another procedural fight that comes up every so often. In truth, the only other time the debt ceiling has been used in this way was in 2011, when President Obama agreed to disastrous terms that hamstrung the federal government for a decade… Read more

It’s Time To Discuss The Real Stakes Of Negotiating The Debt Ceiling

Henry Burke, May 19th, 2023

The Biden Administration has to choose; are they going to attempt to negotiate with Kevin McCarthy’s House Republican Caucus, or are they going to end the unconstitutional farce of the debt ceiling once and for all by challenging its legality under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution? Biden has given no indication that he will take the second option despite pressure from even moderate members of his party to do so (Crooked Media did a good explainer on why any negotiation is a failure). Progressive groups are preparing for the worst, defending their chosen priorities from the negotiator’s chopping block as a result… Read more

The Right And Wrong Ways To Interview Elite Economists

Henry Burke and Max Moran, May 12th, 2023

In a recent interview with Former Treasury Secretary and frequent austerity pundit Larry Summers, tech journalist Kara Swisher finally asked what we at the Revolving Door Project have been beseeching the media to spotlight for months. To Summers’ clear displeasure, Swisher asked why he has been so comfortable legitimizing the fraudulent cryptocurrency industry… Read more

The Pro-Powell Camp Was Completely, Disastrously Wrong

They said Powell would keep rates low and his bank deregulations didn’t matter. Powell has raised rates, and his bank deregulations have set off a crisis. Oops?

Max Moran, May 5th, 2023

A year and a half ago, President Joe Biden renominated Jerome Powell for a second term as Federal Reserve Chairman. This came after a protracted, public debate among journalists, think-tankers, activists, and some members of Congress… Read more

New York Times Lets Trump Alumni Test-Drive Antitrust Arguments

Are the “reasonable Republicans” who served the most corrupt President in history really all that different from him?

Max Moran, April 21st, 2023

On Wednesday, the United Kingdom blocked Microsoft’s $69 billion acquisition of video game giant Activision. The move sent markets reeling and corporate mouthpieces foaming. Two such mouthpieces, Jay Clayton and Gary Cohn, got a slot to talk about it on The New York Times Opinion page the next day. As the Times writes in their author bios, “Mr. Clayton was a chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission and Mr. Cohn was a director of the National Economic Council in the Trump administration”… Read more

The Case Of Too Many ‘Flations

How did corporate profiteering as a driver of inflation go from crockery to common sense?

Dylan Gyauch-Lewis and Max Moran, April 21st, 2023

In a recent episode of their ultra-popular “The Odd Lots” podcast, Bloomberg’s Joe Weisenthal and Tracy Alloway introduce us to Ken Jarosch, a baker in Chicago’s suburbs who had an idea a few years ago: the next time there’s a major news event that affects some element of the baking industry, he could jack up his prices without making his customers angry, even if he wasn’t actually affected by what was happening in the headlines. “Whether it’s rye flour, or bird flu that impacts eggs, when it makes national news, just running a business, it’s an opportunity to increase the prices without getting a whole bunch of complaining from the customers,” Jarosch said… Read more

Is Larry Summers Exempt From Editors’ Notes?

Bloomberg rightly discloses conflicts of interest for their journalists. Why not their top talking head?

Dylan Gyauch-Lewi, April 17th, 2023

Bloomberg included an editor’s note in their Supply Chains newsletter on Wednesday to disclose that the author’s family had been quoted in the piece, and to apologize for not initially disclosing upon publication. The note clarified that Bloomberg’s disclosure policy “is to disclose any real or perceived conflicts of interest.” That’s all well and good; mistakes and oversights happen and the right thing to do is fix and own them. But that stands in stark contrast to how the outlet treats former Treasury Secretary and current regular Bloomberg talking head Larry Summers. His financial interests are both wide and adjacent to the economic policy and issues he regularly discusses with Bloomberg and BloombergTV… Read more

Campus Activists Fight Back Against Academic Reputation-Laundering

Plus, the contradictions of objectively reporting on non-objective scholarship.

Dylan Gyauch-Lewis and Max Moran, April 7th, 2023

Last week, Fossil Fuel Divest Harvard (FFDH), a student activist group fighting the influence of oil companies at their university, published an open letter to Professor Jody Freeman. Freeman also serves on the board of oil giant ConocoPhillips. The Biden administration just greenlit Conoco’s Willow Project, a massive drilling initiative in Alaska that will do as much environmental damage as dozens of new coal-fired power plants. (For more on the perils of Willow, read our Hannah Story Brown’s newsletter on the subject, here, and her related appearance on “The Majority Report with Sam Seder” hereRead more

Two Percent Is Just A Number

There’s nothing special about the Fed’s target inflation rate

Dylan Gyauch-Lewis, March 17th, 2023

The Federal Reserve has aggressively leaned into its inflation-fighting role over the past year, which effectively means deliberately stripping workers of wealth and bargaining power via rate hikes without tackling the cause of our current inflation. One number that keeps coming up in all of the coverage: 2 percent. Reporters know that that’s the target inflation rate the Fed likes to see…but that’s usually where the conversation ends, even for some of the savvier journalists covering the central bank. The Fed will be satisfied when it gets the inflation rate down to the 2 percent target. But why? What’s so special about 2 percent? Read more

Article Originally Published in The Nation Magazine

Why Is Larry Summers So Obsessed With Tech Bros?

The former Treasury secretary’s business partnerships may have influenced his early calls to bail out Silicon Valley Bank.

Max Moran, March 15th, 2023

For the past two years, former Treasury secretary Larry Summers has begged, berated, and bullied federal policy-makers to suck as much wealth as possible, as fast as possible, out of the economy. He just never meant, you know, his wealth or his friends’ wealth… Read More

The Willow Project Is Not A “Both Sides” Story

To placate ConocoPhillips, reporters have to feign a fireable degree of ignorance.

Dorothy Slater and Toni Aguilar Rosenthal, March 10th, 2023

The Interior Department is expected to issue a final decision about ConocoPhillips’ Alaska Willow Project as early as this week. Stakeholders of all kinds are trying to get their last words in: Indigenous activists from Alaska traveled to D.C. this week to express their opposition; a #StopWillow social media campaign is trending on TikTok; Alaska’s Congressional delegation met with President Biden for over an hour last Thursday to plead their case for approval; those same members of Congress wrote op-eds in The Hill and CNNRead More

Media Continues To Rehabilitate Disgraced Former Fed Vice Chair

Insider-trading can’t keep Powell’s right-hand man from becoming CNBC’s new favorite expert.

Vishal Shankar, March 3rd, 2023

A year after resigning as Vice Chair of the Federal Reserve, Richard Clarida is enjoying what has become an increasingly common second act among former government officials: a media career… Read More

“Economic Science” Is Whatever Larry Summers Wants It To Be

The language of scientific certainty helps neoliberals disguise their ideology…and ignore inconvenient facts.

Max Moran, February 24th, 2023

On December 18th, 2020, economist Larry Summers took to Bloomberg’s “Wall Street Week” to call for “a more just and generous society” after the Covid-19 pandemic. “Above all, though, we need to run this economy strong,” Summers said. “And have an economy where the dominant theme is jobs trying to find workers, rather than the dominant theme being workers trying to find jobs… Read More

Debtors And Lawyers And Trusts, Oh My!

Here are three quick takes on media coverage of the economy this week.

Dylan Gyauch-Lewis, February 17th, 2023

Yesterday, Politico released a report breaking down the data available about applicants to President Biden’s student relief program. The upshot is basically that everything the program’s centrist and Democratic-leaning critics complained about seems to be a moot point… Read More

Larry Summers, TV Star: Part 1

Why does Summers have a weekly interview slot on Bloomberg, and how has he used it?

Max Moran, February 10th, 2023

The stock-market show is a TV news institution. Ticker tapes, staccato theme music, brassy anchors, and a constant barrage of jargon are recognizable genre tropes, invoked and parodied for years… Read More

Media Helps Corporate Landlords Spin Biden’s Watered-Down Renter Protection Plan

Mainstream outlets are failing to tell the full story on the White House’s new tenant protection actions.

Vishal Shankar, February 3rd, 2023

Last month, the Biden administration unveiled a slate of new agency-level actions it claimed would “protect renters and promote rental affordability.” The announcement followed nearly a year of public pressure from Congressional Democrats and the tenant-led Homes Guarantee campaign to get President Biden to crack down on rent-gouging and unjust evictions. In late January, the campaign sent the White House a list of 11 essential policy directives to include in its tenant protection plan… Read More

The Myth of Jeffrey Zients

There is no reason to trust a longtime corporate stooge to serve as President Biden’s chief of staff.

Max Moran, January 27th, 2023

On Sunday, The Washington Post reported that Jeffrey Zients would replace Ron Klain as White House chief of staff. Democratic Party insiders unsurprisingly heaped praise on the decision. Biden confidant and former Chamber of Commerce lobbyist Mark Gitenstein called Zients “the best manager that I’ve ever worked with.” Pod Save America, perhaps the Biden administration’s most supportive media organ, assured the Democratic faithful that any skeptics weren’t being fair. “I generally have a problem with criticism that is only about someone’s past and résumé, and not of the actual decisions and policies they have implemented during their time in government,” said Jon Favreau, who overlapped with Zients in the Obama administration… Read More

The Fairness Doctrine Strikes Again

Media Outlets are Calling Republicans’ Austerity Pushes a Debt Ceiling “Showdown”

Dylan Gyauch-Lewis, January 20th, 2023

If you haven’t heard, the United States government just hit its debt ceiling – it’s borrowed as much as it can. Sort of. The Treasury Department has actually bought some time with some good old fashioned financial finagling. Unfortunately, a number of media outlets are massively mischaracterizing the issue… Read More

New York Times Uses Bahamian Third Person To Carry Weight For A Con

On the 2nd day of Christmas NYT gave to me…a textbook example of how to excuse white-collar crime.

Julian Scoffield, Dylan Gyauch-Lewis, and Max Moran, January 13th, 2023

On December 26, 2022, New York Times reporter Rob Copeland published an article titled, “In the Bahamas, a Lingering Sympathy for Sam Bankman-Fried.” “Residents there [in the Bahamas] have a generous view of the disgraced FTX founder, who has been accused of misusing billions of dollars in customer funds,” Copeland writes. However, rather than convincingly argue his point, Copeland instead relies on the sentiments of (often unnamed) Bahamian citizens, SBF’s philanthropic history, and supposed differences between white-collar and blue-collar crime to manufacture sympathies for the former crypto billionaire… Read More

Why Are We Reading Jamie Dimon’s Eighth-Grade Social Studies Essay?

A wealthy businessman’s opinions aren’t newsworthy just because he’s a wealthy businessman.

Max Moran, January 6th, 2023

Jamie Dimon is not a foreign policy expert. He has never studied international relations. He has never worked in diplomacy. He runs the multinational banking firm JPMorgan Chase, but as the CEO, he presumably doesn’t personally analyze international commerce or get deep into the weeds on policy minutiae with foreign dignitaries. Even if he did, global banking rules are just one small part of foreign policy. They’re not the same thing as writing treaties, managing alliances, or projecting a clear philosophy of when military intervention is or isn’t justified… Read More

Meet the former Biden Advisor Using “Climate Advocacy” as a Trojan Horse for Corporate Interests

Don’t be fooled by her green-sounding credentials – Heather Zichal is a revolver for hire.

Emma Marsano, December 19th, 2022

With the Senate’s rejection of Senator Joe Manchin’s permitting reform legislation as a notable exception, last week was a bad one for fossil fuel disasters and corporate accountability. In Kansas, a Keystone pipeline leak caused the largest US crude oil spill in a decade. Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, investigators found ongoing gas leaks in Equitrans’ pipeline storage facilities that released massive amounts of methane in November — enough to erase 50% of emission gains from US electric vehicles sales this year… Read More

Reporters Know There’s A Reason For The Threatened Rail Strike, Right?

What parts of the rail strike story don’t get told by mainstream outlets says more than what they do write.

Dylan Gyauch-Lewis, December 2nd, 2022

Two months ago, I wrote for this newsletter about the media’s egregiously one-sided coverage of a potential rail strike. Since that piece ran, the 12 unions which represent railroad workers held up-or-down votes on the tentative deal that the Biden administration brokered between them and the railroads. Eight unions voted to accept the deal, but four, which together constitute a narrow majority of actual workers represented by the 12 unions, voted to reject it…. Read More

Summers’s Cyber Speculation

How The Former Treasury Secretary Boosted Crypto Bros

Dylan Gyauch-Lewis, November 16th, 2022

Crypto was always a scam. Now, as Sam Bankman-Fried, the industry titan who especially sought a cloak of legitimacy, flails into bankruptcy, the farce is more apparent than ever. This past Monday, our own Timi Iwayemi had a great piece in The Nation looking into Bankman-Fried and the crypto “empire” he built upon pillars of sand and financial trickery. If you haven’t already, give it a read…. Read More

Corporate Scammers Aren’t Independent Voices

White-collar crooks are behind the campaign to kill the CFPB, but don’t expect the mainstream media to tell you that.

Vishal Shankar, November 4th, 2022

If you hate scammers, I have some good news and some bad news for you.

The good news: the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), under the leadership of Director Rohit Chopra, is cracking down on corporate predators at a record pace. Since taking office last year, Chopra has taken sweeping enforcement action against companies who repeatedly rip off their customers. These include banking giants U.S. Bank and Trustmark for abusing consumer data and discriminating against minority borrowers, student loan servicer Edfinancial for trying to dupe borrowers out of loan forgiveness, payment processor Brightspeed for scamming the elderly, and pawn lenders FirstCash Inc. and Cash America West for charging high-interest loans to military families… Read More

Debunking the Big Budget Bogeyman

The government is hardly some reckless teenager on a spending spree.

Hannah Story Brown, October 28th, 2022

What is the media’s job?

You can imagine many bitter answers to this question: to brainwash you, to sell you something, to parrot elite talking points. But even the fiercest defenders of the media’s value can acknowledge that mainstream media is floundering in some serious systemic ways… Read More

Big Real Estate’s Hackery On Housing

Why are actual tenants only allowed to tug news consumers’ heartstrings, not actually say how they want their problems to be solved?

Vishal Shankar, October 21st, 2022

The rent is too damn high.

What was once an eccentric political candidate’s favorite slogan (and the title of a very catchy autotune remix) is today an unpleasant reality for millions of Americans. September’s CPI report showed that rent jumped a jaw-dropping 7.2% over the past year – the largest increase in four decades. According to an analysis by People’s Action and the Groundwork Collaborative, the median tenant is now paying $97 more per month in rent than they were last year. With rent comprising a third of CPI and housing now the single biggest line item in family budgets, millions of Americans are on the brink of homelessness… Read More

Raimondo’s Constituency: New York Times Pundits

The Commerce Secretary’s commitment to 90’s centrism has won her support from the Gray Lady, and hostility from actual voters.

Max Moran, October 14th, 2022

Here’s something I never thought I’d say: I have a column idea for Tom Friedman. It’ll give him a chance to refute the assumption, held by myself and others, that he’s basically a mindless parrot for whatever the last rich person who called him up happens to think. He’ll get to show that he’s not a tool who’s incapable of fact-checking, lacks the basic skepticism required of a reporter, and takes an awfully high number of unverifiable taxi rides where the cabbie just happens to agree with him on international legal doctrine… Read More

Larry Summers And Jason Furman Aren’t Really Democrats

Identifying people who don’t support the party’s key policies as Democratic thought leaders only serves to reinforce outmoded center right ideology.

Dylan Gyauch-Lewis, October 7th, 2022

This week, we’re taking a look at how media deference to a certain group of economic pundits can lead to serious misrepresentation of important political and policy nuances. We’ll be looking at two articles: this one from The Washington Post and this one from The New York Times. Each publication sets the tone for the debate that is continued on from cable news to econ Twitter to the Halls of Actual Power. The Post piece is actually quite a good article overall, documenting a shift in where (and from whom) the Biden administration gets its economic policy advice. On the other hand, what we get from the Times article is absolutely unhinged economic coverage that is ridiculously one-sided commentary from the right about a budget run amok. The common feature? They both enshrine a specific type of moderate economic stance as the stance of economists. Let’s start with the Post… Read More

Politico Rolls Out The Red Carpet For Ripple And Securities Fraud

Events like these have become a major revenue source for trade publications across the board.

Timi Iwayemi, September 30th, 2022

Last Tuesday, Politico hosted an event, Writing the Rules of Crypto, which was sponsored by Ripple — the crypto platform currently being sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission for raising over a billion dollars through the sale of token XRP in unregistered securities transactions. No doubt, corporate sponsorship of editorial products is a key part of Politico’s operation (hardly unprecedented, to be sure; the New York Times ran 819 op-ed page “advertorials” from Mobil from 1985 through 2000). Chevron, ExxonMobil and the American Petroleum Institute are regular sponsors of its Power Switch newsletter which is supposed to be a “guide to the political forces shaping the energy transformation.” The guide is presented by the political forces blocking the energy transformation… Read More

So About Those Rate Hikes…

Few of the pundits who sprang to Jerome Powell’s defense last year have acknowledged that their analysis was exactly wrong.

Max Moran and Dylan Gyauch-Lewis, September 23rd, 2022

On Wednesday afternoon, the Federal Reserve announced it was hiking interest rates by 75 basis points (0.75%, 1bp = 0.01%). More importantly, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell, in his press conference discussing the rate hike’s announcement, promised to “keep at it,” making it clear that the central bank isn’t done yet. The Fed is now projecting that rates will rise further up to about 4.4 percent, a whole point higher than it projected in June. This comes as reticence from economists and business leaders is building… Read More

From Inflation To Rail, The Media Beats Up On Workers

It’s easy to call for higher unemployment if you won’t be caught without a job, and hard to look at rail workers’ demands when you already have sick leave and family time.

Max Moran and Dylan Gyauch-Lewis, September 9th, 2022

Here’s a thought experiment for you: if a labor leader paid $16 million to settle an alleged kickback scheme with the third-largest pension fund in the country, would the media give them free airtime? If they did get airtime, would the host let them go the whole segment without asking about the self-dealing and rumors?… Read More

Economists Outraged That Politics Is Hard, Actually

If student debt cancellation is too blunt for Jason Furman and Melissa Kearney, what’s their actual alternative plan?

Max Moran, August 30th, 2022

We’re living through a real renaissance of political-economic thought. Thinkers across the country are resurrecting and updating older traditions; fusing once-separate schools of thought; and developing completely novel approaches to solve today’s problems, from climate change to financialization to healthcare… Read More