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Friday, December 10, 2010

More Journalistic Malpractice In Service Of The Powerful

by digby

Ali Velshi is supposed to be the smart "money guy" on CNN, but this morning he conflated a discussion of the cyber attacks on VISA and Mastercard with the fact that Wikileaks said that they have information "that could bring down a bank." The implication was that that that they were threatening people's checking and savings accounts. He even played a segment from the week-end with chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Sheila Bair to "reassure" listeners that Wikileaks wasn't preparing to somehow steal their money and throw them into the streets.(Then they both scoffed at the silly notion that there could be any information out there that could hurt a bank.)

This is utter nonsense. Wikileaks says that they have documents from what is assumed to be Bank Of America which may show malfeasance, corruption and/or collusion. There is no threat to individual depositors, nor does anyone responsible think there is. This is cheap fear mongering from an alleged financial journalist who, like most of the rest of his profession, thinks his job is to protect his powerful friends and sources rather than get at the truth.

Update: Here's the transcript:

VELSHI: Well, with all the talk about WikiLeaks' related hacking and cyber security, a lot of you are asking if your money is safe. And, remember, a couple of years ago, Wiki -- a couple of weeks ago, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said he'll have some information in the new year that could take down a bank or two.

So I asked the head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the woman really at the heart of regulating our banking system, what she thought about it. Here's chairman Sheila Bair's answer. A CNN exclusive for my weekend show, "YOUR $$$$$."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) VELSHI: One of the things that you've gained a lot of acclaim for through the worst of the financial crisis is when we didn't think that everybody really had a handle on what was going on. You certainly had your finger on the pulse of banks in this country.


VELSHI: So I assume that you and your colleagues have the best sense of what's going on in banks. Have you lost any sleep over Julian Assange and WikiLeaks talking about having enough information to bring down a bank or two?

BAIR: Oh. Well, yes. Well, you know, listen, I think it's always important for everybody to understand deposit insurance and understand that if you're fully insured at your bank you have nothing to worry about. And we have a special website, myfdicinsurance.gov, that explains our rules. The basic rule is $250,000 per depositor per bank, but you can get more than that through structuring your accounts. And our website will help people walk through that.

I think if you want to learn more about banks, there are reliable sources of information. Our website, our call reports have a lot of financial information about banks. There are credible analysts out there. So I would look for reliable information about the banking sector and understand that if you're below our deposit insurance limit, you're fully insured no matter what.

VELSHI: You think it's likely that there's information about banks that you don't know?

BAIR: No, I don't. And I said this before. I can't imagine what could be out there that they think would have such a big impact. It sounds like it's old information, whatever it is.

VELSHI: Right.

BAIR: So, you know, I've got to tell you, I just ignore that kind of thing. I think people are just trying to stir up trouble and scare people. That's not particularly constructive. And so I ignore it and I would hope other people would do the same. Look for credible sources of information if you're interested.

VELSHI: Sheila Bair, always a pleasure to talk to you. Thank you for being with us.