Category Archives: Dan Froomkin

My Brother Says It’s Obama’s Economy

In Suskind's Confidence Men Raises Questions About Obama's Credibility, my brother Dan Froomkin makes the case for the prosecution against Obama’s management of the economic crisis.

It starts with Obama’s bold but unfulfilled promises:

In October 2008, he promised to "take on the corruption in Washington and on Wall Street to make sure a crisis like this can never, ever happen again."

And one day before he was elected president, he told a Florida audience: "Tomorrow, you can turn the page on policies that have put the greed and irresponsibility of Wall Street before the hard work and sacrifice of folks on Main Street."

Obama’s most seminal speech on the crisis was his March 2008 address at Cooper Union. There, he laid part of the blame for the disaster on Clinton-era financial deregulation, including the 1999 repeal of the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act. That repeal, which broke down barriers between commercial and investment banking, led to the growth of financial behemoths that were able to take enormous risks with impunity because they were "too big to fail."

"[I]nstead of establishing a 21st century regulatory framework, we simply dismantled the old one, aided by a legal but corrupt bargain in which campaign money all too often shaped policy and watered down oversight," Obama said. "In doing so we encouraged a winner take all, anything goes environment that helped foster devastating dislocations in our economy."

But in fact, Obama appointed an economic team that was either not up to boldness, or set against it.

While the appointments of these men and a slew of similarly pedigreed subordinates reassured the financial markets, their leadership undermined Obama’s populist promises.

Many of them had already spent their interregnum feeding at the Wall Street trough.

Dan’s extensive tying of Obama’s top advisers to millions in Wall St. remuneration will undoubtedly anger many inside the Beltway, where it’s not considered polite to suggest that government servants — especially those taking a pay cut to be powerful — might be motivated by money. But whatever one makes of that, it is telling that so many of the key Obama economic team were men (yes, men) with Wall Street affinities and salaries.

I haven’t read Suskind’s book, and I don’t have a clear theory for the root causes of the Obama failures on the economy. Yes, they got dealt a crisis. But they wasted it, after Rahm Emanuel promised not to.

The list of failures is long: the administration failed to be more aggressive pushing for a stimulus, it failed to demand, much less get, an equity stake in the banks you and I paid to bail out, it failed to do anything at all meaningful to help underwater homeowners, and did next to nothing to punish anyone responsible for the financial debacle economically — much less criminally. Those are clear, real failures, they were not (with the possible exception of the stimulus which required Republican support that certainly could not have been guaranteed even with a more confrontational strategy) hard to foresee nor all that hard to prevent. Nor, unlike the underlying economic problem itself, are any of them things you can blame on George W. Bush.

That the GOP seems poised to choose its nominee between someone utterly unprincipled and someone crazy and dangerous as well as unprincipled, suggests Obama may be lucky. That luck may get him re-elected. It’s a certainty that if re-election happens, it won’t be because of his handling of the economic crisis.

Posted in 2012 Election, Dan Froomkin, Econ & Money | 3 Comments

Florida as Journalistic Paradise

The editor of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, on Florida’s Gulf Coast, is reported (!) to have issued what is widely being called the world’s greatest journalism job announcement touting the virtues of their newsroom — and the joy of reporting in the target-rich environment which is Florida.

We want to add some talent to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune investigative team. Every serious candidate should have a proven track record of conceiving, reporting and writing stellar investigative pieces that provoke change. However, our ideal candidate has also cursed out an editor, had spokespeople hang up on them in anger and threatened to resign at least once because some fool wanted to screw around with their perfect lede.

We do a mix of quick hit investigative work when events call for it and mini-projects that might run for a few days. But every year we like to put together a project way too ambitious for a paper our size because we dream that one day Walt Bogdanich will have to say: “I can’t believe the Sarasota Whatever-Tribune cost me my 20th Pulitzer.” As many of you already know, those kinds of projects can be hellish, soul-sucking, doubt-inducing affairs. But if you’re the type of sicko who likes holing up in a tiny, closed office with reporters of questionable hygiene to build databases from scratch by hand-entering thousands of pages of documents to take on powerful people and institutions that wish you were dead, all for the glorious reward of having readers pick up the paper and glance at your potential prize-winning epic as they flip their way to the Jumble … well, if that sounds like journalism Heaven, then you’re our kind of sicko.

For those unaware of Florida’s reputation, it’s arguably the best news state in the country and not just because of the great public records laws. We have all kinds of corruption, violence and scumbaggery. The 9/11 terrorists trained here. Bush read My Pet Goat here. Our elections are colossal clusterfucks. Our new governor once ran a health care company that got hit with a record fine because of rampant Medicare fraud. We have hurricanes, wildfires, tar balls, bedbugs, diseased citrus trees and an entire town overrun by giant roaches (only one of those things is made up). And we have Disney World and beaches, so bring the whole family.

The Political Animal (Steve Benen) posting that I linked to above has other reasons why Florida is so great for journalism.

I’m reminded of a comment — that I want to attribute to Dave Barry because even if he didn’t say it, it sounds like he should have — that Florida is what you get when you pick up the country and shake it: all the nuts fall down to the bottom.

Plus, I can’t help wondering why the Herald is so lame.

(Thanks to Ann Bartow for the original link to another version of this announcement.  It’s everywhere.)

Posted in Dan Froomkin, The Media | Leave a comment

Read This

Gulf Oil Spill: Rick Steiner Got BP Disaster Right From The Beginning, Warns Crisis Is Far From Over.

Posted in Dan Froomkin, Energy | Leave a comment

‘The Decider’ Endorses Dan Froomkin

The Decider's Blog says “This article by Dan Froomkin is well worth reading.”

Don't miss the comments.

The spirit of Dennis Thatcher's Dear Bill letters lives on.

Posted in Dan Froomkin, Politics: US | Leave a comment

He’ll Try Harder

Hey, Dan is #2 on the Power List 2010: NextGen Media Personalities … whatever that is.

(For those under 30 or so, title is a reference to an old car rental commercial.)

Posted in Dan Froomkin | 1 Comment Does ‘7 Questions for Dan Froomkin’, Democracy in America, Seven questions for Dan Froomkin

My favorite of the seven:

DIA: Much of Huffington Post’s traffic is driven by gossipy stories about sex and entertainment. Are you concerned about the effect this has on the site's respectability?

Mr Froomkin: It’s not my favourite thing about the site. But mostly, I recognise it as evidence of how the Huffington Post is truly a creature of its medium. A fair amount of people come to a website in part to be entertained, and to deny that would be to turn away a large audience of potential news consumers. And please keep in mind that our staid, holier-than-though newspapers carry horoscopes and Sudoku, not just news. I know some people who subscribe to newspapers primarily because they couldn’t live without the comics.

The kids' demand for the comics does seem to be why we still get the Miami Herald. Even though they now print some so small I can hardly read them.

Posted in Dan Froomkin | 9 Comments