Monday, January 23, 2006

Bloomberg Nails the Abramoff Scandal

Finally a major news outlet tallies up the scandal dollar for dollar, and guess what? Turns out its a Republican scandal after all. So much for the "both parties" canard spun by the WH and their minions.

Two money quotes:

Between 2001 and 2004, Abramoff gave more than $127,000 to Republican candidates and committees and nothing to Democrats, federal records show. At the same time, his Indian clients were the only ones among the top 10 tribal donors in the U.S. to donate more money to Republicans than Democrats.

Turns out Howard Dean was right when he smacked down the Bearded Shill. Also:

The Saginaw Chippewas gave $500,500 to Republicans between 2001 and 2004 and $277,210 to Democrats, according to a review of data compiled by Dwight L. Morris & Associates, a Bristow, Virginia-based company that tracks campaign-finance reports. Between 1997 and 2000, the tribe gave just $158,000 to Republicans and $279,000 to Democrats.

Wow - so after Abramoff got to the clients he called "monkeys", "morons" and "troglodytes" - they contributed over $350,000 more to Republicans while keeping their contributions to Dems level.

Thanks, Mike B. for introducing facts into the mix of lies we've had to sit through on CNN, Hardball and MTP.

10 Thoughts:

Blogger Demotiki said...

The Bearded Shill is a complete moron. I am very pleased to see Bloomberg telling the truth, I guess he believes that the truth is important in the business world. With a little more truth maybe we could have saved our domestic auto industry.

Monday, January 23, 2006 9:00:00 PM  
Blogger Palmer said...

Does Mikey B have any interest or influence over what is posted by Bloomberg media? If so, isn't that some kind of conflict of interest?

Monday, January 23, 2006 9:34:00 PM  
Blogger Demotiki said...

He owns it. I guess he could stop it if he wanted to.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006 7:48:00 AM  
Blogger pawlr said...

Mike B probably has no direct input on the story - was just being a little glib in my congratulations to him. But I extend an open invitation for Mike to take a guest posting spot on cyberpols, quid pro quo being that he doesn't try to demolish my house to build a new stadium.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006 10:31:00 AM  
Blogger Palmer said...

Glib. Got it. I used to be glib.

Seriously, though, can an elected official (mayor?) have direct involvement in day-to-day of something like Bloomberg media?

Wouldn't he have to divest somehow?

Tuesday, January 24, 2006 4:46:00 PM  
Blogger Demotiki said...

Absolutely not. Bloomberg retains his First Amendment rights even though he's a public official.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006 12:07:00 AM  
Blogger pawlr said...

There was some conflict of interest stuff because of his business's relationship to Merrill Lynch (also a major city contractor) but now that he's been "vindicated" by the election.

I couldn't find anything relating to his media business.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006 12:30:00 PM  
Blogger Demotiki said...

There's nothing wrong with him owning a new organization. The issue with Merrill Lynch or any other company is that he might try to give them juicy pork projects. That's not an issue with his news network. He has every right to use it whatever manner he desires, even as an outright propaganda device. You have to trust the people to figure out the score.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006 3:21:00 PM  
Blogger Bspot said...

Four separate issues. Only the fourth is really interesting. One, he's a citizen; two, he's a newsman; three, he's a politician who owns a business; and four, he's a politician dealing with a news organization .... that he happens to own.

1. Civil Rights: Before Mikey became a newsman or a mayor, he had civil rights, and they haven't changed. He can say anything he wants and have his business report anything it wants. That means he is legally allowed to ruin his news business by engaging in transparent conflicts of journalistic interest. That's not against the law. (Only financial or political conflicts of interest are actually against the law; journalistic ones just ruin the culprits' reputations irreparably.)

2. Journalistic Code: As he grew up to be a newsman, he would have discovered that major news outlets in America are only respected as long as they ensure, or pretend they're ensuring, that their journalists are not limited or coerced by the owners and business-side management, regarding their reporting. Obviously plenty of bad media are merely pretending, or even drop the pretense, and lose a few people's respect (though most of the voting public clearly doesn't give a shit). Interestingly, some of the more respected newspapers really do shield their journalists 100% from influence by either owner-publishers or advertising clients, contrary to popular misconceptions. I only know this from having worked at a couple of them and seen it for myself. There is rampant bias, cowardice and moral bankruptcy in American journalism, including the New York Times et al., but it doesn't come from the publisher or chief financial officer. It's caused in other ways.

3. Financial Conflict of Interest: As mayor, Mikey's not allowed to give financial breaks to any company, including his own, and, being a billionaire who owns an international news organization, he has no use for any of the kinds of city contracts that a mayor can offer. The most he could do is expedite some process relating to real estate or zoning, if Bloomberg News wanted a new building or something. So this side of things is basically irrelevant.

4. Political Conflict of Interest: This part is interesting. It's true that the Supreme Court's interpetrations over the years of our Constitution have laid the basis for preventing government officials from coercing "independent" news organizations (as opposed to our openly state-run ones) into reporting one way or another against their will. But it's absolutely not against the law for a government official to tell journalists what to report if the journalists are happy and willing to oblige. The journalists can be as biased as they want, as long as their editors and their editors' paymasters want it that way too. This happens every day; every hour actually.

So Bloomie can do that all he wants, as a source. But if managing editors begin allowing reporters to report news he didn't like, and he gave direct orders to his senior staff to stop that ..... it's still legal in some cases but illegal in others. (Again, even in the legal instances, it should be journalistically and politically scandalous.)

I think that because he is owner, he does have the legal "right" if he wishes to commit political, journalistic and therefore financial self-injury, by giving his company direct orders on what to report or not report, with two big exceptions: while he's mayor, his orders to Bloomberg News can't concern any controversial New York City politics or campaigns; and while he's a nationally prominent Republican, his orders can't concern any issues of national controversy either (i.e. Abramoff). On any of those issues, city or national politics, I think he could be busted by the Supreme Court (if a lawsuit ever made it there).

So what can he do? Even while mayor or prominent Republican, Bloomberg can (but only because he's the owner of the company) tell his company to stop printing news and start printing nothing but colored pictures of Easter Eggs. (Obviously if he does so right after they report something he doesn't like, people can claim he's an evildoer, but he can get out of court just by saying he'd decided to change Bloomberg News's product line.) He could not do this legally if he were a politician or state official but not an owner, obviously.

The only problem he could run into there would be if Bloomberg News is a publicly held corporation (I have no idea .... I assume it is though.) In that case his shareholders could sue him for blatant negligence of or malicious intent against their financial interests, which he's legally required to serve.

These distinctions are going to become more and more important here, as they already are in Russia, where some pretenses of non-state-controlled media still exist but already are no more than pretenses. I've been reading about a lot of these gray-area maneuvers, Russia, (and Italy), where politicians' private ownership of media outlets helps them blur the lines that the public still wants to see separating government from journalism. There's still public outcry if it's done without the politician already owning the news organization. But it's muted if he's the owner.

Thursday, January 26, 2006 7:27:00 AM  
Blogger Bspot said...

On second thought, I think I might be wrong.

Thursday, January 26, 2006 7:35:00 AM  

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