CNN Cruising Towards Inanity

Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger

200px-Cnn.svgI must admit that I gave up watching CNN years ago, even before they attempted to become FOX News lite. Originally, as they created the standard for Cable News, they were an informative leader in providing television journalism. Because of their devotion to the news alone, they became the preferred alternative to Broadcast Network News, which at each network had been put under the “Entertainment Division” and thus viewed as a profit center, rather than a public information service. At the beginning and “golden age” of Television Network News, the FCC had mandated that each network was to provide “news” as a public service, in exchange for their license to control a band on the airways. The leader in this was CBS, a network under the aegis of William Paley, who hired war tested Journalists such as Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite. CBS News was independent of the “Entertainment Division” and as a public service wasn’t expected to turn a profit. While it is true that there was an establishment bias on all news programming yet the coverage ranging from Joe McCarthy, to the Civil Rights Movement and to the Viet Nam War informed the public of great issues and brought home the realities through pictures indelibly imprinting horrific images on the public mind. Reactionary elements within the Corporate/Military Plutocracy viewed all of this with alarm. Their continued success depended upon an uninformed public, lulled by jingoistic propaganda and unaware of who really controlled our nation. There was a determination in these elite circles that the network news, the preferred means by which the public was informed on current affairs, must be reined in. William F. Buckley had already created the meme of a “liberal news bias” by this time as an explanation of why his philosophy of the supremacy of the elite was being bought by the general public. Building upon this meme networks were bought out by conservative corporations, news operations were put under the entertainment divisions and the FCC stop requiring news broadcasting as a condition of licensing.

Ted Turner realized that the traditional network news had been reduced in size and homogenized into a rather unpalatable product. He founded CNN under the paradigm of a 24 hour network dedicated solely to examining the news. Following CNN was the entry of Rupert Murdoch and the “tabloidization” of Cable News along with FOX News becoming a propaganda provider for his Conservative views and allies. This was nothing new for Murdoch who bought out the New Post and the Village Voice, turning them both into neo-conservative propaganda operations, sensationalized with gossip and racy pictures. Sadly, in terms of return on investment, it was a winning strategy for cable news as FOX shot to the top of the ratings. CNN the former ratings leader faltered and tried to become “a little” more like Fox News in order to regain their stature. In the process they became a failure as a serious news provider and have become every bit as inane as shows like “Entertainment Tonight”, even in their coverage of “hard” news stories. At this time in our country’s history with so many serious problems that need to be dealt with, CNN has proven not only incapable, but uninterested in providing coverage of issues that affect us all and of which we the public require more information.

Today, as with many Americans who try to be informed, almost all of the “news” I pay attention to comes from the internet. While I occasionally will watch Rachel Maddow and MSNBC coverage of important events, their coverage too seems lacking of content or even intelligent analysis. There are exceptions at MSNBC when they go away from their usual pundit crew to have on original thinkers undaunted by the need to parrot the establishment. Indeed, the first time I became familiar with Jonathan Turley’s work was seeing him on MSNBC. Since this is the case I had to discover something about CNN’s recent coverage from two articles I read in the Huffington Post, one of which made me snort with amusement, while the other just made me shake my head in disgust as to the current state of CNN, as a representative of mainstream Cable News

The first item was from perhaps the “purest” form of cable news, John Stewart and the Daily Show.

“Jon Stewart opened Thursday’s “Daily Show” by calling out CNN for their exhaustive coverage of Triumph, the Carnival cruise ship that was stuck in the Gulf of Mexico for six days. Despite other perhaps more significant stories occurring simultaneously, CNN, which recently came under the leadership of Jeff Zucker, devoted their entire morning and afternoon broadcast on Thursday to following the story of the ship that had lost power and forced its passengers into disgusting conditions, such as defecating into bags.

“CNN has been on the case, for some reason giving this boat crisis wall-to-shit-covered-wall coverage,” Stewart opined, before rolling a clip of a CNN anchor showing a young girl on the ship waving to her mother via the TV cameras.

“You’re not heroes, guys,” Stewart said, referring to CNN. “It’s not a hostage situation or a baby in a well. You reconnected them? They weren’t supposed to see each other. They were on a cruise for a few days.”

Stewart lamented that the CNN coverage was at the expense of notably more important stories, such as the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation meeting in Cairo.

The second Huffington Post Story added depth to the Daily Show comedy and clarified the Jeff Zucker that Stewart Referred to:

“Media watchers took notice on Thursday when CNN sent out a press release detailing its incredibly extensive coverage plans for the final leg of the journey of the Carnival Triumph cruise ship, which has been struck with power failures and squalid conditions for five days. The release made clear that CNN was going all in:

“CNN’s Erin Burnett will anchor “Erin Burnett OutFront” from Mobile, Alabama, where the ship will dock. Sandra Endo covers the ship’s arrival by helicopter; Victor Blackwell monitors by boat; and David Mattingly and Martin Savidge report from the dock in Mobile. and the CNN apps will live stream the docking. CNN International will simulcast the arrival later tonight.On Saturday at 7:30pmET and 10:30pmET, CNN will broadcast “Cruise from Hell: Stranded at Sea,” a 30 minute special reported by Martin Savidge.”

 “CNN wound up going beyond even that: during much of the late morning and early afternoon, there was literally no other story for the channel. Fox News talked about various matters, and MSNBC talked about the Chuck Hagel nomination and other political stories, but CNN had eyes only for the ship. The network devoted at least an hour of commercial-free coverage of its journey. The helicopter zoomed in and out, the correspondents reported from land and boat and studio, and the words “CNN Live Exclusive” were plastered in the top right hand corner of the screen the whole time.”

“It was not hard news, and it was not the most “important” story that CNN could have been covering. Jon Stewart will probably have a field day. But it was, if anyone needed it, a reminder that television news is still television — and it was very attention-grabbing. Substitute Matt Lauer for Banfield, and it could have easily been seen on “Today.” (The cruise ship was second only to the Oscar Pistorius murder allegations on that show’s Thursday edition.)Coincidentally (or not), “Today” happens to be where new CNN chief Jeff Zucker cut his teeth. Zucker has made clear that he wants to, in his words, “broaden the definition of news,”

The Today Show has been an NBC standard since the 50’s. It’s hosts through the years became TV lengends such as Dave Garroway, Barbara Walters and Hugh Downs. While it has always had a news content it was always really an entertainment show, with news content. As the years have progressed this had become truer and now with morning show competition the pressure to deliver light content has grown. Since these type of shows are cheaper to produce they have always been very profitable to the networks. Bringing Jeff Zucker in seems a clear sign to me that CNN will become even more of an entertainment network, pretending to provide serious news content. If the Zucker experiment is successful, how log will it be before the other cable news networks get the message and how much less informed will the America Public become?

As I said in the beginning though, I don’t generally watch cable news, but a viewing experience this week aroused ager and disdain, so when these “cruise ship” stories came up they caught my attention. Being in my late 60’s and having always been a political junkie, I’ve watched every State of the Union address that has ever been televised since 1965. Though they began televising the SOTU’s in 1947, in 1965 LBJ decided to make it a prime time affair. I probably watched some before that depending on where I was at the time. I believe that it is the duty of a citizen to watch the SOTU, no matter who is President, since its delivery is mandated constitutionally and thus serves as a  common ritual. With the advent of cable news it has become traditional to have news programs concerned with the SOTU leading in to them and then analysis afterwards. When my wife and I sat down to watch on MSBC at 8:00pm, an hour before it was scheduled to begin, we were shocked to see a picture of a burning cabin in the woods. They were giving full on coverage of the Richard Dorner story and it seemed he had been surrounded in the woods. We had the expectation that this would entail bringing viewers up to date on this story and then become the usual background and analysis leading up to the SOTU. The time passed and not only did they stay with the story, but turned their coverage over to the local station that was covering the story. The problem was that like most “wrap around” news coverage we see on TV, think helicopters chasing OJ’s Bronco, there was little breaking news to cover and so we were treated to a constant rehashing of the known material, as each broadcaster seeking their moment of national fame, regurgitated essentially the same story.

Since two County Sheriff’s had been shot, we were treated to pictures of the hospital and the police guard keeping the media away. This continued on even though we knew that the status was that one officer was dead ad the other due to recover. I became increasingly frustrated as this coverage continued up until 3 minutes before the 9:00pm start. Tuning to the other news networks I saw the same coverage of the Dorner story.

The Dorner story indeed is one of interest. His murder spree and escape certainly merits attention, as doe the fact of his firing as a police officer, which he claimed was done to quiet his ratting out another officer’s improper conduct. However, perhaps some might think me insensitive to state that this story didn’t merit the coverage it was getting. It certainly pales in comparison to the SOTU speech, however one might feel about the President. The SOTU is the executive’s opportunity to lay out an agenda for the ext year. We are facing continued unemployment, a financial crisis and the continued deterioration of the infrastructure of this country. There are foreign policy issues that also are urgent and need to be discussed. It is horrible that Dorner murdered people, but such murders are really common place in this country, while there are urgent crises we face. We know the news maxim “if it bleeds, it leads” has too often been a ratings grabber.

This is the state of public affairs in this country as our newspapers fail and television journalism becomes an oxymoron. This coverage, leading up to the SOTU, was disrespectful of the traditions and rituals of this nation. We find this trivialization occurring consistently today and in truth it has been this way for years. We see a citizenry that is alienated from the concept of the American community and a good part of that is because those common rituals of our have been trivialized in the name of commerce. It is ironic to me when I as a Jew can understand Fundamentalist Christianity’s decrying the “War on Christmas”. Christmas in America has become yet another opportunity of commercialization, where presents and Santa subsume any meaning of what the holiday is supposed to be about. This is true though of our other Holidays as Thanksgiving has become football and Macy’s Day and as “President’s Day” has become the opportunity to have actors dressed as Lincoln and Washington offering “tremendous” deals on new cars. Sadly, the same traditionalists who decry these changes, fail to recognize that they are the accoutrements of a Corporate Plutocracy that will sell anything in pursuit of profit.

Which leads us back to the News and the need for a informed citizenry. I my opinion the American Empire has emulated Rome’s “bread and circuses” to keep the masses under control. The last vestige of a “Free Press” informing a “Free Citizenry” has fallen to the internet and to blogs such as ours. CNN to me stands for the “Clown News Network” just as FOX has become “Faux News”. MSNBC is not a news paradigm either, even though its political stance has some similarities to my own. I find them all stultifying and boring in content and structure. They all confuse the concept of journalism, with entertainment and therefore I damn them all.

Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger

81 thoughts on “CNN Cruising Towards Inanity

  1. Erin Burnett: Voice of the People
    Finacial reporters revere Wall Street as much as national security reporters revere military and CIA officials VIDEO

    On her new CNN show on Monday night, host Erin Burnett was joined by Rudy Giuliani’s former speechwriter John Avlon and together they heaped condescending scorn on the Wall Street protests while defending the banking industry, offering — as FAIR documented — several misleading statements along the way. Burnett “reported” that while she “saw dancing, bongo drums, even a clown” at the protest, the participants “did not know what they want,” except that “it seems like people want a messiah leader, just like they did when they anointed Barack Obama.” She featured a video clip of herself explaining to one of the protesters that the U.S. Government made money from TARP, and then demanded to know if that changed his negative views of Wall Street.

    This is far from the first time Burnett has served as spokesperson for Wall Street; it’s basically what her “journalistic” career is. She angered Bill Maher a couple years ago when arguing that the rich have suffered along with the poor and middle class as part of the financial crisis, and that it would be wrong to “soak the rich” because they’re already paying so much taxes. She caused Rush Limbaugh to gush over her when she argued on TV in 2007 that all Americans benefit when the rich get richer: “the majority of Americans directly benefit from what happens on Wall Street,” she proclaimed, just over a year before the financial collapse.

    In an interview last year with Vanity Fair, she insisted that people on Wall Street do not have private planes and that “there are a lot of stalwart, solid people on Wall Street. There are just a few shady people providing the fodder for big budget movies”; when asked: “When was the last time you interviewed somebody on Wall Street and said, ‘Enough of your lies, we deserve the truth goddammit?!’”, she would only say in response: “I’d never use the word ‘goddammit’ in an interview.” And then there’s this two-minute video from her 2009 appearance on Meet the Press, compiled by Progressive Change Campaign Committee, in which she repeatedly heaps patronizing scorn on criticisms of Wall Street while defending its virtue:

  2. Another March to War?
    by Matt Taibbi
    POSTED: FEBRUARY 17, 2012

    As a journalist, there’s a buzz you can detect once the normal restraints in your business have been loosened, a smell of fresh chum in the waters, urging us down the road to war. Many years removed from the Iraq disaster, that smell is back, this time with Iran.

    You can just feel it: many of the same newspapers and TV stations we saw leading the charge in the Bush years have gone back to the attic and are dusting off their war pom-poms. CNN’s house blockhead, the Goldman-trained ex-finance professional Erin Burnett, came out with a doozie of a broadcast yesterday, a Rumsfeldian jeremiad against the Iranian threat would have fit beautifully in the Saddam’s-sending-drones-at-New-York halcyon days of late 2002. Here’s how the excellent Glenn Greenwald described Burnett’s rant:

    “It’s the sort of thing you would produce if you set out to create a mean-spirited parody of mindless, war-hungry, fear-mongering media stars, but you wouldn’t dare go this far because you’d want the parody to have a feel of realism to it, and this would be way too extreme to be believable. She really hauled it all out: WMDs! Terrorist sleeper cells in the U.S. controlled by Tehran! Iran’s long-range nuclear missiles reaching our homeland!!!! She almost made the anti-Muslim war-mongering fanatic she brought on to interview, Rep. Peter King, appear sober and reasonable by comparison.”

    Like Greenwald, I was particularly struck by Burnett’s freak-out about Iran’s nuclear program, about which she said, “No one buys Iran’s claim that [it is] for peaceful purposes.” She then cited remarks by Director of Intelligence James Clapper, which, she said, “drove that message home.” But then she ran a clip with Clapper’s quote, which read as follows:

    “Iran’s technical advances . . . strengthen our assessment that Iran is more than capable of producing enough highly enriched uranium for a weapon if its political leaders, specifically the Supreme Leader himself, choose to do so.”

    In other words, “If Iran were to decide to be capable of making nuclear weapons, it would be capable of making nuclear weapons.” Unless I’m missing something, that’s a statement that would be true of almost any industrialized country, wouldn’t it?

    Virtually all of the Iran stories of late have contained some version of this sort of rhetorical sophistry. The news “hook” in most all of these stories is that intelligence reports reveal Iran is “willing” to attack us or go to war – but then there’s usually an asterisk next to the headline, and when you follow the asterisk, it reads something like, “In the event that we attack Iran first.”

    An NBC report Greenwald also wrote about put it this way: “Within just the past few days, Iranian leaders have threatened that if attacked, they would launch those missiles at U.S. targets.”

  3. While we are mentioning who some prominent Television “journalists” are related to, how often does Andrea Mitchell of NBC get quizzed on the fact that she married her second husband, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan (Ayn Rand Pet) Greenspan, in 1997 following a lengthy relationship.

  4. Mike S.,

    And would you agree that the media has gone easy on Ayn Rand acolyte Greenspan?


    An Interview with Matt Taibbi
    The Progressive
    By Carl Kozlowski, February 2011 issue

    Q: You call former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan “the biggest asshole in the universe.” Yet the press and public for so long were led to think he was an infallible icon. How do you think he got away with it?

    Taibbi: Greenspan is a classic con man. A guy who reached power by sounding smart and giving pretty speeches to politicians who didn’t know what he was talking about much of the time. He’s like religious con men who get to where they are by saying vague things and letting people reach their own interpretation. And he stayed in power by giving the powerful what they wanted. There were disastrous consequences for everybody but him. In the process, he presided over this period where more and more political decisions were moved to unaccountable financial bureaucracies. That’s a big part of the story too: how guys like him gained power and the politicians officially lost power.

    Greenspan’s whole career was built on media exposure. He was romantically involved with key members of the media, such as Barbara Walters and NBC’s Andrea Mitchell, who is his wife. He was very, very cunning in getting people to write articles about what a genius he was. That’s how he got into power: first economist to make the cover of Newsweek. He established himself as an infallible oracle, and a lot of it had to do with his ability to seduce key media figures, sometimes literally. In the book, I show his record as an actual economist was complete shit.


    How Alan Greenspan Helped Wreck the Economy
    POSTED: June 16, 2011
    By Jeff Madrick

    • “And would you agree that the media has gone easy on Ayn Rand acolyte Greenspan?”


      I absolutely agree. One of the things I hold against Bill Clinton was his reappointment of Greenspan to the Fed. An intelligent Rand acolyte is an oxymoron. Greenspan is a slimy man and so it is impossible for me to see Andrea Mitchell as a voice of impartiality. To be fair I also find it hard to believe about James Carville as a Democratic icon either.

  5. Elaine and MikeS et al.

    Let us begin with the FED system itself. It is the biggest privately owned bank fraud this nation has ever had. JFK issued an exec order to the Treasury chief to start printing silver certificates, which would have in time got us off paying interest (or part of the value) for every Reserve note we used (and the FED printed and issued through their own affiliated banks).

    People are killed for less. JFK was assassinated. Turkey shoot sponsored, prof domestic agency murderers?

    If my memory serves me correct, Greenspan is from South Carolina. Took his first degree there. Smart guy accdg to his admirers or as previously explaned, a media charmer. His religious affiliation can we leave aside.

    • “Let us begin with the FED system itself. It is the biggest privately owned bank fraud this nation has ever had.”


      I agree with the above and in fact with the entirety of your comment.

  6. Classic definition of “news”: Man bites dog.

    In the United States, on the other hand, we have:

    Boobie Infotainment
    (from Fernando Po, U.S.A., America’s post-linguistic retreat to Plato’s Cave)

    Some chose to place a saintly crown
    Upon her dead blonde head,
    While others felt relieved at last:
    “She’s better off,” they said.
    A woman born of others’ needs:
    An unreal life she led.

    The tabloids built an image up
    To vend to those who dreamed
    Of two deadbeat aristocrats
    Unreasonably teamed:
    A fable for frustrated lives
    Vicariously beamed

    Into those households where the proles
    Preferred their rubbish crass
    Along with propaganda “news,”
    Leaked from and to an ass,
    Delivered by celebrities
    With tits or balls of brass.

    Thus Marilyn, Diana, or
    Maid Monica will do —
    Along with Michael Jackson and
    Dead Elvis Presley, too —
    Distracting ‘Murcans from the bad
    And ugly larger view.

    Just so did Bush and Blair concoct
    Some “coalition” fun.
    They’d have a go at poor Saddam
    And set him on the run:
    The mad dog and his Englishman
    Out in the noonday sun.

    This illustrates a lesson that
    Some liars never learn:
    Do not believe the lie yourself
    Or else you’ll surely burn
    And find your ashes dumped into
    A small ceramic urn.

    As Hayakawa wrote, we have
    This thing, the Empty Eye:
    A Technicolor campfire on
    Which Boobies now rely
    To dull the pain with images
    That pass too swiftly by.

    The Eye emitted “content” both
    Innocuous and bland
    And pushed it past the limits of
    What Boobie brains could stand,
    Inducing thought rejection all
    Across the Boobies’ land.

    The pictures came and went too fast
    To process on the fly,
    So Boobies felt upset but they
    Could find no reason why.
    The only thing they knew is that
    They felt compelled to buy.

    With nervous systems stunned and jazzed
    They couldn’t bring to mind
    Some cartoons from the past that told
    Of just this Boobie kind:
    A salesman of the bait-and-switch
    Who robbed a sailor blind.

    He’d beg a meal from Popeye then
    This Wimpy guy would say:
    “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for
    A hamburger today.”
    Which meant, of course, that he had no
    Intention to repay.

    King George the bumbling Boobie, too,
    Worked things the selfsame way.
    He waged a war on nothing down
    But promised that some day
    Some other one would come along
    And all the costs defray.

    “When Tuesday comes, I won’t be here,”
    He snickered as he spent.
    “I’ll eat my burger now and get
    Those lenders to relent
    Till I can high-tail out of town
    And stiff them for the rent.”

    The Infotainment tabloids, though,
    Saw no need to retort.
    They liked the dead-blonde pictures that
    They showed around for sport.
    Convinced that only “good news” lies
    Deserved a full “report.”

    Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright © 2006, 2009

  7. Matt Tabaii is a good read. Chris Hayes has excellent guests and good discussion. Jon Stewart’s reaction to CNN was great: I’m Wolff Blitz.. [click – dark screen].

    Did you see anything like this on CNN?

  8. Mike, idealist, and bettykath,

    Have you read Matt Taibbi’s book “Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That Is Breaking America?” It’s a great read. The second chapter in the book is titled “The Biggest A**hole in the Universe.” It’s about Alan Greenspan.


    Welcome to Griftopia, Part 2 – The Biggest A**hole in the Universe

    Chapter 2: The Biggest Asshole in the Universe

    If there’s one villain that Taibbi singles out for special notoriety it’s Alan Greenspan. (The title above is taken directly from the book.) For decades it’s been almost impossible to find any economic policy, any critical regulatory decision, any bubble and collapse where Greenspan hasn’t been at Ground Zero just about every single time.

    A key to understanding Griftopia is the role of the Federal Reserve – and Greenspan’s role in turning it into “a permanent bailout mechanism for the super-rich.” The economic shocks of the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s are when political power shifted from elected government to private and semi-private institutions run by oligarchs out to benefit their own class – and Greenspan as first an economic advisor to the powerful and then Chairman of the Fed was there every step of the way doing his best to facilitate the power shift.

    The Fed plays a critical role in the economy. While it has many duties, the principle one is to try to manage the amount of money ‘out there’. It can let banks ‘create’ money by loosening how much they have to have on hand to back up the loans they make – cutting that margin lets banks act as though they magically have more. The Fed can lend money to banks directly at relatively low rates – which they can then turn around and lend out at a higher rate. (The discount window.) The Fed can buy up Treasury Bills or bonds from banks and brokers, pumping even more money into the economy.

    The rationale for something like the Federal Reserve is to smooth out the fluctuations in the economy, the classic boom and bust cycle that’s proven so destructive to long-term financial stability and growth over the years. The Fed is supposed to cool things down when the market overheats, and goose it when it slows, while trying to factor in unemployment, inflation, long term debt, etc. etc. to find a balance where the greatest number is doing well. Or, it can tip that balance in other directions…

    The Federal Reserve operates with a great deal of independence and even mystery because decisions by the Fed can have a massive effect; mere rumors of Fed action can send stocks soaring or crashing. Although Congress is supposed to have oversight, in practice the Federal Reserve answers to no one – because of that power as much as anything. (And also because no politician wants to risk being blamed for a market crash by poking the Fed too hard in public.)

    Chairmanship of the Federal Reserve is therefore one of the most critical unelected positions in government. The ideal chairman should have the highest level of competence, a deep understanding of the economy, the integrity to resist political pressures of the moment for the long view, and the intelligence to cope with complex issues in which the Fed is one of many actors – if a major one. Instead we got Alan Greenspan.

    WARNING: You may want to have brain-bleach handy after reading Taibbi’s characterization of Greenspan.

    Greenspan’s rise is instead a tale of a gerbilish mirror-gazer who flattered and bullshitted his way up the Matterhorn of American power and then, once he got to the top, feverishly jacked himself off to the attentions of Wall Street for twenty consecutive years – in the process laying the intellectual foundation for a generation of orgiastic greed and overconsumption and turning the Federal Reserve into a permanent bailout mechanism for the super-rich.

    Playing games with interest rates is primarily how the Fed under Greenspan manipulated the money supply. This affects things like savings and investment – depending on where rates are, people make decisions about the best places to put their money for the biggest return. Hike the rate at which the Fed loans money to banks (the federal funds rate) and everyone ends up paying more to borrow – plus getting higher rates on savings. The economy slows down.

    Lower the rate, money is ‘cheaper’ – and the economy picks up. Instead of being saved, money goes into the stock market seeking a higher rate of return. Pump in enough cheap money, and the market inflates into a bubble where the actual value of what’s being traded, and the bets made on how those trades will work out becomes less and less of a concern. Instead, people are making money just from money moving around – until the bubble bursts…

    Under Greenspan, the Fed operated like a casino that kept extending credit to the big gamblers – and stuck everyone else with the tab when their bets ultimately failed to pay off.

    Without going into a lot of detail (which Taibbi does), Greenspan’s career was spent serving the super rich at the expense of everyone else. He helped Ronald Reagan pull off the Social Security bait & switch ‘rescue’ that laid the groundwork for the current assault. He pursued inflation-fighting policies that – among other things – deliberately worked to hold down or cut wages and benefits for the working/middle class. He routinely misinterpreted what was happening with the economy leading to repeated economic fiascos, and was instrumental in fueling the dot-com and housing bubbles. The markets came to believe that it didn’t matter how risky their behavior was – Greenspan would show up to bail them out. Which he did. Repeatedly.

    At the same time he continually pushed or signed off on policies that deregulated the financial sector. He helped tear down the wall between insurance companies, investment firms, and commercial banks. (Glass-Steagall repeal), and turned the Commodities market (with Bob Rubin) into a free for all. He helped engineer the creation of ever larger banks via mergers, etc. setting up Too Big To Fail. He failed to address the Shadow Banking System that rose up on his watch, leaving it unregulated.

    What seems an obvious warning sign in hindsight is something Taibbi spends a far amount of Chapter 2 on – Greenspan’s long history as an inner circle acolyte of Ayn Rand and her cult philosophy. The man at the center of the Federal Government’s Central Bank, the supposed anchor of a stable economy, believed government regulation was unnecessary – because markets are inherently self-regulating! Further, the vast majority of Americans are parasites, not ‘producers’ in Randian terms – and Greenspan valued them accordingly.

    Even now, Greenspan hasn’t quite grasped that the Masters of the Universe who style themselves as true incarnations of John Galt are anything but. Whiny, egomanaiacal, stupid greedy bastards is more like it – but they still see themselves as the real drivers of the economy, with a Randian world view to match.

    Taibbi reduces Rand’s belief system to these four points:
    1. Facts are facts: things can be absolutely right or absolutely wrong, as determined by reason.
    2. According to my reasoning, I am absolutely right.
    3. Charity is immoral.
    4. Pay for your own f*cking schools.

    Or even more succinctly:
    “When I’m right, I’m right.” and “My facts are facts and your facts are not facts.”

  9. 1. Mr. Spindell – I enjoy and appreciate every article you share here with us!

    2. The Talmud teaches us that a person who sends another person to commit a crime, is guilty as well; thus, ALL those presidents who picked this Saxophone – Jazz – player to head the Fed, share, in my opinion, are guilty as well.

    3. The current president, who replaced Mr. Greenspan, with a philosopher-quiet-Yes-Man is guilty too.

    4. It looks like God had mercy on CNN, and just before it (CNN) was about to sink into oblivion and irrelevancy – sent them (CNN) the 9/11 disaster perpetrated by Saudi nationals. They did not stop blabbering ever since.

    5. ABC, CBS, NBC and yes, MSNBC, together with CNN, collude to synchronize their commercial “Breaks” which are nowadays inflated to almost HALF an hour for a one-hour show.
    It is common to witness Rachel Maddow (sp?) coming in, after a 2 minutes-long commercial break, injecting a sentence or two ending with the infamous “stay tuned” fading from there into another 2 minutes-long commercials. This is why I boycott the above networks.

    6. To the important, intelligent sources of news listed above, I would add the FreeSpeech TV and the LinkTV.

  10. Here is another aspect or “trend” which reflects the dumb side of America. Female news people speak like children. It is hard to mimic in print here but please just watch CNN and other news shows. The local channels here are doing the kid thing the worst. It is denigrating to females. Us dogs would not stoop to it. Adult voices get respect. Child voices get a big question when the perp is over age 12 much less over age 18 and from the looks of them over age 30. California seems to have spawned this but it is very popular. Women of America. Speak like a women, not a teeny. You are a disgrace, even to Nancy Grace.

  11. “I must admit that I gave up watching CNN years ago, even before they attempted to become FOX News lite”

    Fox News Lite – that’s a new one. So CNN streamlines its news program by stripping away all those important facts that get in the way.

    The internet has taken away the power of all the leftwing news stations because people can find out the facts that aren’t reported. Therefore, we have more and more people turning away from the leftwing stations and turning to Fox News and internet, as well as of course, talk radio. Talk radio weakened the mainstream media’s chokehold a long time ago, before the internet.

    This however, begs the question, why did we have so many “low information” voters that voted for Mr. Obama. They’re either not researching the facts, or actually believe what they’re hearing on the mainstream media.

    • or Hubert we voted for President Obama because we did research him and on balance he was the better candidate. There is a lot to be unhappy with about what he has done but the auto industry came back (as opposed to “let em go bankrupt” Mitt’s way of dealing with it.) stock market back 5+ million jobs created despite repubs refusal to pass a jobs bill, Iraq war ended, Afghan war on its way down, ACA, and more. Just because you were for the other guy does not make those not of your view uneducated/illiterate.
      People seem to forget democracy is about disagreement but it used to be that even when the politicos called each other names the population for the most part did not. We used to be revered around the world fo thre fsact that, no matter ewho the president, (even when anointed by the Supreme Court, we came around the elected president and saw him as president as all. It is only since Obama that I have this abject hatred and disrespect.

      • @leejcaroll

        Well, not entirely. I believe it was Dan Rather who was one of the early dis respecters when he decided to call Bush Mr rather than President.

        On he other hand, the bizarre refusal to compromise and the demand for 60 votes for everything really is an innovation.

        My recollection is that the country was formed by compromise. Some might argue that the country became great through compromise – the artful negotiation of mutually acceptable agreements so that all of us can move forward. So please, someone, tell me when did compromise become un American?

        And there was a time that filibuster was something that occurred a few times a decade – at most.

        Something is definitely going off the tracks here.

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