This post is written more in sorrow than in anger. You would think The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell would be an oasis of transparency in a muddled and corrupted news media.
Thursday night on Last Word, David Gregory was invited on to promote his web-only show "Pass with David Gregory." I guess the "pass" is, "I'll pass on mentioning, in all my Freddie / Fannie investigations, that my wife, Beth Wilkinson, was one of the four top executives in Fannie Mae who resigned as the federal government took it into receivership in 2008."
I'm not accusing Beth Wilkinson of corruption or vice. She's clearly an accomplished attorney, and she joined Fannie as Dodd-Frank was being passed. I have no access to what she did or did not do as a Fannie Mae VP.
But then David Gregory comes on a television show and says (at the 2:22 mark)
The background's important: Frannie Mae and Freddie Mac are quasi-public/private agencies -- they survived, and they made a great deal of money, because they worked the Hill. But they went way beyond working the Hill -- they had the Hill by the throat. This is Republicans, this is Democrats, both sides of the aisle, made a lot of money through these companies! So, that's the backdrop...
Okay, David, but where in the "backdrop" is the fact that your wife was executive vice-president and general counsel of Fannie Mae when they stopped being "quasi-private" and got bailed out by the taxpayer?
The Georgetown cocktail circuit that lets this kind of no-transparency BS stand for watchdog media is, ahem, 99 percent of the problem. They come from a world where David Gregory's wife's planned purchase of Jimmy Choo's for spring got splashed on the pages of Washingtonian Magazine, at exactly the same time that Newt collected 30K a month from Freddie Mac for history lessons. And the GE-owned "liberal network" doesn't see fit to mention it? Why give right-wingers that much ammo, Lawrence?
And the Chicago Tribune reports that the tentacles of Fannie and Freddie spread throughout the Beltway:
While presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich was forced to defend his lucrative former role with Freddie Mac this week, the mortgage giant and its larger cousin Fannie Mae had a roster of Washington heavyweights on their payroll for years, many of them Democrats.
Fannie and Freddie hired figures such as Tom Donilon, now President Barack Obama's national security adviser, and Rahm Emanuel, Obama's former White House chief of staff, as part of a campaign aimed at protecting government ties that allowed them to borrow money cheaply from financial markets.
"It was a mob-like operation," said a senior congressional official who over the years dealt with the political and lobbying operations at the firms, the two biggest sources of U.S. mortgage finance. "They had tentacles everywhere."
Gingrich was just one of a lengthy list of political power brokers with close ties to Congress and Republican and Democratic administrations hired by Fannie and Freddie as either board members, senior executives, lobbyists or consultants.
Fannie also hired other Washington power brokers during this time, including Bill Daley, who is now Obama's current White House chief of staff; Jamie Gorelick, a deputy attorney-general under Clinton; and Robert Zoellick, the current head of the World Bank.
From 1993 until 1997 Zoellick served as Fannie Mae's executive vice-president. Gorelick was vice chairman of Fannie Mae from 1997 to 2003, after she left the Clinton administration.
Kenneth Duberstein, former White House Chief of Staff for Republican President Ronald Reagan, served on the board of Fannie Mae from 1998 until 2007.
Financial institutions buying influence in Congress is nothing new. Then the taxpayers are asked to bail out those institutions, and even the media is married (sometimes literally, Mrs. Greenspan and Mr. Wilkinson) to the executive power structure of those institutions. THEN the media neglects to mention that relationship in covering the corruption that ensues.
So much for the "liberal media." The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell just gave Newt Gingrich a lovely talking point for the Hannity Show: "David Gregory should talk." Good lord, not to mention Clarence Thomas. Why should Clarence Thomas recuse himself for his wife's activities when David Gregory doesn't have to?