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  • Current's Spitzer: LIBOR Story "Hasn't Yet Broken Through To The Mainstream Media. It Should."

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    In a prerecorded interview that will air on SiriusXM's Media Matters Radio tomorrow, Current TV host Eliot Spitzer points to the media's failure to cover one of the largest banking scandals in history, the LIBOR rate-fixing story. According to Spitzer, the story "hasn't yet broken through to the mainstream media. It should."

    Indeed, as we noted this morning many major television news outlets have devoted scant coverage to the allegation that major financial institutions have been manipulating the LIBOR, a key interest rate that banks use to borrow money from one another. As we documented, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, and NBC have only spent about 12 minutes combined covering the story during their evening newscasts and opinion programming.

    Spitzer, who was known as the Sheriff of Wall Street during his tenure as Attorney General of New York, has provided extensive coverage of the story, airing four segments on his Current TV program, Viewpoint, and two Web exclusive segments on Current's website since July 3. Below, Spitzer discusses the scandal with Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone contributing editor, and Dennis Kelleher, president and CEO of Better Markets:

    LIBOR is "used as a benchmark to set payments on about $800 trillion worth of financial instruments" and impacts "lending rates for trillions of dollars of credit, from loans between financial institutions to credit cards and adjustable-rate mortgages" but also impacts local government agencies and municipalities that have financial investments directly tied to LIBOR. 

    The British bank Barclays has already been fined $450 million for its role in rigging the rate, and as many as 20 major financial institutions are reportedly under investigation for their own alleged participation in the scheme.

    MSNBC's Chris Hayes has also used his program to deliver in-depth coverage of this critical news story, providing nearly 19 minutes of discussion on last Saturday's edition of Up With Chris.

    Listen to Spitzer's interview with Media Matters Radio tomorrow on SiriusXM Left 127 at 10 a.m. ET.

    UPDATE: Here's the discussion with Spitzer about the LIBOR scandal from the July 14 edition of Media Matters Radio:

  • FLASHBACK: Franklin Center's Full-Throated Defense Of ALEC

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    As corporate sponsors fled from the shadowy American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the media's scrutiny increased earlier this year, ALEC's allies at the right-wing Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity rushed to the organization's defense.

    ALEC, which uses donations from major corporations to promote conservative model bills for use in state capitals across the country, came under fire in April from progressive groups. This followed the revelation of ALEC's involvement in voter ID legislation as well as legislation based on Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law written by the National Rifle Association and linked to the death of Trayvon Martin. ALEC subsequently eliminated the task force that had approved those model bills, but corporations have continued to abandon the group, with five leaving this week.

    Over a nine day period that month, the Franklin Center published vigorous defenses of ALEC from Franklin Center's president, vice president of journalism, and one of its board members, who acknowledged serving as public sector chair of an ALEC task force.

    Franklin Alec

    Yesterday Media Matters' Joe Strupp noted in a lengthy profile of the Franklin Center:

    The Franklin Center is a multimillion-dollar organization whose websites and affiliates provide free statehouse reporting to local newspapers and other media across the country. Funded by major conservative donors, staffed by veterans of groups affiliated with the Koch brothers, and maintaining a regular presence hosting right-wing events, the organization boasts of its ability to fill the void created by state newsroom layoffs.

    The group's editors claim that their "professional journalism" work is walled off from the organization's more nakedly political operations and say that their "pro-taxpayer, pro-liberty, free market perspective" doesn't compromise their accuracy or independence. But many journalism professionals - even newspaper editors who reprint the work of Franklin Center affiliates in their own pages - speak warily of the group's ideological bent.

    According to the Center on Media and Democracy, a progressive group that monitors ALEC, "The Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity was a 'Vice-Chairman' level sponsor of 2011 American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) Annual Conference, which in 2010, equated to $25,000. The Franklin Center was one of about 60 companies and institutions represented in the conference exhibition hall." In October 2011, CMD reported extensively on the Franklin Center's ALEC ties. 

  • How A Right-Wing Group Is Infiltrating State News Coverage

    Blog ››› ››› JOE STRUPP

    When Idaho state legislators proposed a seemingly uncontroversial bill to ban access to commercial tanning beds by minors earlier this year, IdahoReporter.com took up the issue with force.

    The state news website, an affiliate of the conservative Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity and overseen by the free market Idaho Freedom Foundation, posted six stories on the proposal between Feb. 16 and March 22, when the bill was voted down in a state Senate Committee.  

    The Franklin Center is a multimillion-dollar organization whose websites and affiliates provide free statehouse reporting to local newspapers and other media across the country. Funded by major conservative donors, staffed by veterans of groups affiliated with the Koch brothers, and maintaining a regular presence hosting right-wing events, the organization boasts of its ability to fill the void created by state newsroom layoffs.

    The group's editors claim that their "professional journalism" work is walled off from the organization's more nakedly political operations and say that their "pro-taxpayer, pro-liberty, free market perspective" doesn't compromise their accuracy or independence. But many journalism professionals - even newspaper editors who reprint the work of Franklin Center affiliates in their own pages - speak warily of the group's ideological bent.

  • Cappin' Crunch: DOJ Investigating Data Cap Abuse

    Blog ››› ››› SIMON MALOY

    Cable television companies want you to watch cable television. More to the point, they don't want you to cancel your cable subscription and give that money to online purveyors of televised entertainment -- Netflix, Hulu, etc. But that's business, right? Companies compete with each other, and consumers make their choices based on quality of service.

    Not exactly.

    Cable companies like Comcast and Time Warner are also internet service providers. They control the pipes, as such they have the means and the incentive to encourage you to consume cable TV, and discourage you from seeking out online streaming video. Are they engaging in such wildly anticompetitive activities? The Justice Department aims to find out.

    The Wall Street Journal reported late Tuesday that DOJ "is conducting a wide-ranging antitrust investigation into whether cable companies are acting improperly to quash nascent competition from online video." What's at issue? Data caps, and the abuse thereof.