What, if anything, did the federal government’s $25 million “mortgage settlement” deal with the big banks do to help people who lost their homes, or are on the verge of losing them because of deceptive practices by the banks?
Despite the billions earmarked in the accord, the aid will help a relatively small portion of the millions of borrowers who are delinquent and facing foreclosure.
If the new Federal task force were intended to be serious, this deal would have not have been settled. You never settle before investigating. It’s a bad idea to settle obvious, widespread wrongdoing on the cheap. You use the stuff that is easy to prove to gather information and secure cooperation on the stuff that is harder to prove. In Missouri and Nevada, the robosigning investigation led to criminal charges against agents of the servicers. But even though these companies were acting at the express direction and approval of the services, no individuals or entities higher up the food chain will face any sort of meaningful charges.
Really this looks like America’s public prosecutors just wilted before the prospect of a long, drawn-out conflict with an army of highly-paid, determined white-shoe banker lawyers. The message this sends is that if you commit crimes on a large enough scale, and have enough high-priced legal talent sitting at the negotiating table after you get caught, the government will ultimately back down, conceding the inferiority of its resources.
And yet, if you watched MSNBC this week, you might have thought the settlement was a big initial victory in the struggle to nail the swindlers who have caused so much misery. God forbid Rachel Maddow, Ed Schultz or Lawrence O’Donnell should state or even imply that the Obama administration continues to do a lousy job of protecting the interests of ordinary citizens against voraciously thieving corporations and big banks.
This is not to say MSNBC is in the same league with Fox News. Fox traffics in blatant lies and cynical distortions in order to push right-wing agendas. MSNBC reports and comments from a liberal perspective, but doesn’t blatantly lie about or distort news events.
However, MSNBC’s prime-time commentators sometimes avoid drawing conclusions, or even asking questions, that might cast the Obama administration in an unflattering light, and this should make uncomfortable all of us who have noticed this tendency.
Footnote: Keith Olbermann would have asked the right questions — especially to Eric Schneiderman, who was on Maddow’s show — but MSNBC forced him out last year. Coincidence, right?