Daily Archives: March 9, 2014

PPBS: The Extra P Is for Extra-Private

PBS newshour


For 20 years the Lehrer Newshour on PBS has been produced by a company owned by Liberty Media, the cable company of conservative billionaire John Malone.

“The American public called PBS the most trusted source for news and public affairs programs and the most ‘fair’ source for news coverage.” – PBS, February 20, 2014.

Last month, in response to Pando’s revelations that anti-pension mogul John Arnold secretly was financing PBS’s “Pension Peril” series, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting issued a scathingreport demanding immediate reform. Criticizing “the lack of transparency” at PBS, CPB’s ombudsman Joel Kaplan declared that public broadcasting outlets must let the public access details of their financial dealings.

So how’s that new commitment to transparency going?

Here’s how: Once again, a PBS flagship station is in the process of negotiating a deal with a politically active mogul. Once again, the deal involves the NewsHour — the same iconic PBS program that stealthily promoted Arnold’s anti-pension programming. And once again, PBS is refusing to disclose the deal’s financial details to the public.

The major difference this time is that this new story of secrecy isn’t about who funds the journalism on the NewsHour. It is about who actually owns the NewsHour.

* * * *

Most Americans likely assume that the NewsHour (which, after all, is made with support from viewers like you) is actually owned and produced by PBS. It is an understandable assumption considering PBS’s own president declared that the NewsHour “is ours, and ours alone,” and further considering that the program receives millions of public dollars every year.

However, since 1994, the NewsHour has been produced and primarily owned by the for-profit colossus, Liberty Media. Liberty, which is run by conservative billionaire John Malone, owns the majority stake in MacNeil/Lehrer Productions – the entity that produces the journalistic content of the show. While other standalone public television projects are often produced by small independent production companies, the NewsHour stands out for being owned by a major for-profit media conglomerate headed by a politically active billionaire.

But now that ownership is about to change. According to an internal memo sent to staff by NewsHour’s founders and minority owners Robert MacNeil and Jim Lehrer, ownership of NewsHour will soon be transferred from Liberty Media to Washington, D.C.’s PBS member station, WETA.

We have concluded that the time has come to find a new, long-term home for The NewsHour. The current operation has worked beautifully because our long-time partnership with Liberty Media has been as perfect as any such relationship could be. When Liberty acquired its majority interest in MLP 18 years ago it was done with the agreement that editorial control and management would always rest with us–Robert MacNeil and Jim Lehrer, individually. Liberty has honored that arrangement in such a way that has made it possible for us to have the independence we all have enjoyed all these years.

Despite the chummy nature of the letter, and the apparent generosity underlying the deal – Liberty is handing the NewsHour to PBS! – the deal raises a huge number of questions.
Click here.


JPMorgan Chase offered taxpayer state jobs grant

JPMorgan Chase offered taxpayer state jobs grant

The banksters love taxpayer money whether it is from the government or state.

JPMorgan Chase would receive a $1.5 million taxpayer grant to support 500 new Delaware jobs under a deal being offered by economic development officials in Gov. Jack Markell’s administration.

The New York-based bank is planning to spend up to $50 million in capital improvements to support a growing workforce in Delaware, though it’s unclear whether that expansion is related to JPMorgan’s plans to purchase portions of AstraZeneca’s North American headquarters campus in Fairfax.

The state grant, which would cover capital costs, is not site specific, according to state officials. The Council on Development Finance, an advisory board that vets state economic development projects, will consider the JPMorgan deal on March 24.

“This will be for computers. This will be for phones systems. This will be for anything they need to add bodies,” said Alan Levin, head of the Delaware Economic Development Office and a Markell cabinet member.


Bergman & Gutierrez Argues An Important Foreclosure Case Before The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals

Bergman & Gutierrez Argues An Important Foreclosure Case Before The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals

On March 4, 2014, Bergman & Gutierrez argued an important foreclosure case before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.  Deborah Gutierrez argued  Junod v. MERS et al., before a 3 judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.  The case involves issues similar to those in Glaski v. Bank America– whether a homeowner can challenge a foreclosure by claiming that a post-closing date transfer into a securitized trust governed by New York Trust law was void.  While this issue involves a complex analysis of California law, New York trust law, and IRS codes, the issue is relatively simple.  The theory advanced by the Plaintiffs in this case was that as U.S. Bank as Trustee for the CSMC Trust Mortgage Backed 2006-6 did not actually own the mortgage loan on which it foreclosed.  More specifically, the Plaintiffs claimed that the Assignment of Deed of Trust, dated April 16, 2010, purporting to assign their mortgage loan to a securitized trust with a “closing date” of June 29, 2006, was void since the trust had closed years before in 2006.  Thus, U.S. Bank as the trustee, could not have validly accepted the untimely transfer of the mortgage.

The plaintiffs in this case lost their home to a foreclosure in May 2011.  Although plaintiffs tried to avoid foreclosure by negotiating with Wells Fargo’s servicing company, America’s Servicing Company, U.S. Bank nevertheless foreclosed and sold their home at auction.  Despite seeking information from U.S. Bank and ASC concerning why ASC refused to provide them with a modification after entering into several trial loan modification plans, plaintiffs lost their home of over 25 years in March 2011.

Following the foreclosure, B&G filed a lawsuit in federal court asserting state and federal claims related to the wrongful foreclosure.  Judge Otis Wright, the federal court judge hearing the case, ultimately dismissed plaintiffs’ case finding plaintiffs could not challenge the foreclosure. Judge Wright reached the conclusion that the Assignment of Deed of Trust was valid and that plaintiffs had failed to plead sufficient facts to support their claims.