Citizen Journalism gains status at the Washington Times, meanwhile more big cuts at the big publishers

The Washington Times promotes the  return of citizen journalism. 

 

Now this is what is called freedom of speech. Is this freedom the result of reality shows and especially America Idol? After all, rank amateurs turn out to be very good singers. 

At the same time, the cuts and shutdowns continue.

The Chicago Tribune plans to cut another 20% of its newsroom staff in yet another bid to reduce expenses amid continuing advertising declines.

Staffers were told of the impending layoffs last week, according to three people who attended a meeting on the topic. The cuts will take place over the next several weeks, the sources said.

The expected cuts are the latest attempt to reduce expenses at the paper, whose parent Tribune Co. filed for bankruptcy protection from creditors in December.

The Washington Times’ news gathering is about to become a whole lot bigger as the newspaper launches one full print page per day of news stories reported and written by average citizens in local communities. The citizen journalism project, set to debut Monday,(today) is a new take on a traditional idea.

Community-driven news has been a long mainstay in American newspapers. The Times’ version ramps up the intensity and the outreach, focusing on six communities within the larger Washington area: academia on Monday, the Maryland and Virginia suburbs on Tuesday, the District on Wednesday, local military bases on Thursday, faith communities on Friday and the charitable and the public service community on Sunday. The citizen journalists’ work will be showcased in the A-section as an additional page of Metro coverage and will provide a natural complement to the work of the newspaper’s reporters and editors. “We know there are many issues and communities we have not been able to fully cover within the confines of a newsroom budget, and we are excited to empower citizens within those communities to provide us news that will interest all our readers, ” Executive Editor John Solomon said. “While we are expanding our reach through this project, we will not be diminishing our editorial quality. Citizen stories must meet the same rigorous standards for accuracy, precision, fairness, balance and ethics as those written by our newsroom staff,” Mr. Solomon said. Each citizen journalist is provided a set of rules for their reporting and newswriting, as well as copies of The Times’ policies governing ethics, anonymous sources and other journalistic standards. While the project calls for some first-rate news wranglers, The Times also is tapping into some of its own editorial talent known for its savvy – and heart. Former Editorial Page Editor Deborah Simmons, a veteran newswoman with close ties to the local community, is supervising the coverage for the District, the suburbs, academia, faith and the charitable communities. Longtime Times columnist Adrienne Washington, a staple on local TV and radio, also will be a part of the outreach and the editing. “Deb and Adrienne are pillars within the Washington community and their journalistic prowess, community ties and passion for news are perfectly suited for this project,” Mr. Solomon said. “This is a groundbreaking project, and I’m excited to be on the launching pad. Readers know our bylines. Now we’re flipping the script.” Grace Vuoto, editor of The Times’ new Web property BaseNews.com, will edit the Thursday citizen journalism page on military base news. “Grace is leading the way in providing citizen reports from every military base in the world through BaseNews.com, and the Thursday page is an ideal extension,” Mr. Solomon said. The idea of community journalism in a print format is actually a new take on an old tradition, said Al Tomkins, a media analyst with the Poynter Institute. “Rural and county newspapers, community weeklies – they always had space devoted to the community news, written by someone local. That kind of coverage was and still is incredibly popular,” Mr. Tomkins said. “It takes its inspiration from a simpler time. But it remains an effective way to give a voice to the voiceless.” The new citizen journalism page is one of several changes launched in the past few weeks in The Times’ print edition. By Jennifer Harper | Monday, April 13, 2009

Will the rabble be able to follow the AP stylebook? (I know that is going through many of the “professionals’ minds.”

Chronicle to purge 150 starting April 1 — A cruel April fools joke?

The SF Chronicle’s carbon footprint is getting smaller, about 150 people smaller.  Some may feel a little foolish now about turning off their lights for Earth Hour, especially when they learn that Al Gore kept the lights on in his 9,000 sq ft mansion. California’s power use didn’t budge. It was a dim idea. 

Back to the lights out on newspapers top heavy with executive editors: 

“Until the current newspaper crisis, you rarely heard politicians or activists bleating about how important newspapers were to self-government. They mostly bitched about what awful failures newspapers were at uncovering vital data. The only group that holds a consistently high opinion of newspapers is newspaper people,” Jack Shafer.

He cites a recent Pew study that shows most people don’t care if their local newspaper folds, and he says they have a point — few of the stories printed every day “are likely to supercharge the democratic impulse,” and even the ones that do, generally fail to spur voters to do anything.

 

Slate‘s Shafer laughs at the high-minded talk of the critical role newspapers play in a democracy, declaring, “I can imagine citizens acquiring sufficient information to vote or poke their legislators with pitchforks even if all the newspapers in the country fell into a bottomless recycling bin tomorrow.”

Shafer shows that some of the people arguing for the importance of newspapers — academics and liberal activists — have shown little love for them in the past.

CHRONICLE UNIT BULLETIN — It’s official!

More than 80 Chronicle staff members took the severance deal on March 31, 2009. The overall number will be 150 in the next two weeks. Is anyone keeping a talley? Has it been 500 cuts the last four years? That’s my estimate.

     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Because of the large number of employees volunteering for termination during The SF Chronicle’s voluntary termination period, the WARN Act provisions requiring 60 days advance notice of involuntary layoffs is not valid. That means that after April 1, another 80 will be given their walking papers.

The company would have no legal need to give the 60-day notice provided for under the WARN Act.

Some members have said that they would not apply for the voluntary termination package and would, instead, wait for the layoff in order to get 60 days notice and the additional pay involved. Given the current situation, however, the Guild advises against taking this course of action because it appears there is a good possibility that the 60 days additional notice with pay won’t materialize. Remember that after April 3, 2009 no member regardless of age can receive the Supplemental Pension Benefit as a lump sum and all will have to take it as a monthly annuity. So if the Supplemental Pension Benefit as a lump sum from the Guild Pension Plan is important to you, and if the 60 days notice you were counting on is no longer a solid possibility, and you are certain you want to leave The Chronicle, we suggest that you should strongly consider volunteering to terminate your employment by the 5 p.m. March 31 deadline.

So, if another 50 or more rush to get your modest buyouts. The remainder who wait very well could end up with an extra 60 days pay.  Not a bad bet. And there are still 60 days of skiing at Heavenly and Squaw Valley.

 “Until the current newspaper crisis, you rarely heard politicians or activists bleating about how important newspapers were to self-government. They mostly bitched about what awful failures newspapers were at uncovering vital data. The only group that holds a consistently high opinion of newspapers is newspaper people,” Jack Shafer.

 Names of Chronicle staff taking the buyouts are piling up like winos in front of the Salvation Army food kitchen.   

Some of the paper’s veteran reporters and biggest names are leaving. It looks like music, books and arts coverage will be hit hard, as well as the photo department.

 Here are the names so far:

 Joel Selvin, who has covered the rock and roll scene for 30 years or so.

 Carl Hall, a longtime science reporter currently on leave.

 Tom Meyer, editorial cartoonist.

 Zachary Coile, a long-time reporter in the Washington D.C. bureau.

 Nancy Gay, who covers 49ers football and other major league teams. 

Three of the papers top culture writers are departing, including:

 Jesse Hamlin, Edward Guthmann, and Heidi Benson. They frequently profile authors, actors, and musicians.

Sabin Russell, who has covered science for decades.

Alison Biggar, the long-time editor of the Chronicle Magazine.

Sylvia Rubin, who covers fashion.

Bernadette Tansey, a biotech reporter. (She has been writing a new feature each Sunday that I love, a round-up of books on a particular business topic, but done in a very clever way.)

The photography department will take a big hit as six photographers, including Pulitzer-Prize winner Kim Komenich, are departing. The others include Michael Maloney, Craig Lee, Eric Luse, Mark Costatini and Kurt Rogers, a sports photographer

Other departures include:

Kevin Albert, editorial assistant

Greg Ambrose, copy editor

Charles Burress (who has covered Berkeley for years.)

Peter Cafone, sports copy editor

Ken Costa, graphic designer

Elizabeth Hughes, copy editor
Leslie Innes, Datebook editor
Timothy Innes, foreign news wire editor
Rod Jones, copy editor, news
Eric Jungerman, designer
Kathy Kerrihard, library researcher
Simar Khanna, editor of Home and Garden section

Even lower level employees are taking the bum’s rush:

Bonnie Lemons, copy editor, news
Glenn Mayeda, editorial assistant, sports
Johnny Miller, library researcher
Dan Giesin, sports night copy editor
Janice Greene, editorial assistant on the op-ed page
Shirley-Anne Owden, copy editor, features
Courtenay Peddle, copy editor, news
Lee Sims, copy editor, news
Michelle Smith, a sports reporter who covers women’s basketball
Patricia Yollin, metro reporter

There are many, many more. Please post what you know on comments.

 So the list will grow longer. Hearst wanted to lay off as many as 225 workers, (and threatened to shutter the paper) but backed off after the Newspaper Guild agreed to cuts in vacation time and seniority rules.

I wonder how these soon to be retired professionals feel now about their liberal politics, the kind that use their taxes to pay for the Mayor Gavin Newsom to fly off to Davos, Paris and London to mingle with the rich and powerful world leaders, while the “good people” work 50-hour weeks and pay nearly 50 percent of their wages in tax?

This is a profile of journalists in Gawker:

“While journalists might continue to forge forward despite workload, deadlines and salary issues, they will not stand by as the foundation of journalism crumbles beneath them. At that point, they will quit,” the study concludes. Hey! Anyone want to start a rock band or a truffle farm with me? Clips not required.



 

California dream turning into a nightmare for middle class

California has turned into a high-tax, socialist state where the working middle class has to support millions of illegals and highly paid government employees. The state income tax has now broke the 10 percent barrier. The number of people leaving has for the first time in 70 years outpaced the incoming number, (including illegals).

Nevada, Arizona, California and Florida had the nation’s top foreclosure rates. In Nevada, one in every 70 homes received a foreclosure filing, while the number was one every 147 in Arizona. Rounding out the top 10 were Idaho, Michigan, Illinois, Georgia, Oregon and Ohio.

Among metro areas, Las Vegas was first, with one in every 60 housing units receiving a foreclosure filing. It was followed by the Cape Coral-Fort Myers area in Florida and five California metropolitan areas: Stockton, Modesto, Merced, Riverside-San Bernardino and Bakersfield.

The Scobleizer has written a good blog post on the subject. Scoble is an IT and social media guru in Silicon Valley who often visits Texas. He interviewed the Texas governor, Rick Perry and they Twitter each other. Even after the real estate bubble burst in 2005-06, and homes fell in price by 20 percent each of the last three years, homes are still overpriced and only 10 percent of California  households can afford median-priced homes. Nationally, 50 percent can afford the median-priced home.

The state of California has lost it’s glamorous image. I think of it now as a congested, welfare state with the highest taxes in the United States and the largest “public” workforce to support. Did you know that most of the government employees retire at full pay after 20 years of service?

http://scobleizer.com/2009/03/24/is-california-is-setup-for-a-brain-drain/comment-page-2/#comment-2008731

Joel Kotkin of the SF Chronicle wrote this piece in 2007.

California has been losing ground in the new millennium. In 2004-05, it fell to 17th, behind not only fast-growing Arizona and Nevada but also Oregon, Washington and rival “nation-state” Texas.

Job creation has been even less impressive. In the Bay Area and Los Angeles, it can only be considered mediocre or worse. If not for the strong performance of the interior counties of the state — what Bill Frey and I call the “Third California” — the state already would be rightly considered a laggard when it comes to creating employment.

More disturbing, as California’s population has grown — largely from immigration — per-capita income growth has weakened. From the 1930s to as late as the 1980s, Californians generally got richer faster than other Americans. In 1946, Gunther reported, Californians enjoyed the highest living standards and the third-highest per-capita income in the country.

Today, California ranks 12th in per-capita income. And it’s losing ground: Between 1999 and 2004, California’s per-capita income growth ranked a miserable 40th among the states.

This slow growth reflects a gradually widening chasm between social classes. Although the rest of the country has also experienced this trend, the gap between rich and poor has expanded more rapidly in California than in the rest of the country.

Today, notes a recent study by the Public Policy Institute of California, California has the 15th-highest rate of poverty of all American states. When cost of living adjustments are made, only New York and the District of Columbia fare worse. Tragically, many of California’s poor are working. Somehow, this does not seem the best road to the governor’s dream of a “harmonious” society.

How did this happen to our golden state? There are many causes.

Certainly poverty has been greatly exacerbated by huge waves of immigration, particularly from Mexico and other developing countries. But other states — including Texas and Arizona — have also absorbed many immigrants, as well as people from the rest of this country, and have not experienced similarly strong jumps in their poverty rates.

Changes in the economy are clearly suspect. From the 1930s to the 1980s, California created a broad spectrum of opportunities for white- and blue-collar workers alike. Even the 1990s expansion, suggests Debbie Reed of the policy institute, helped reduce poverty by expanding a wide range of employment opportunities.

Today, economic growth in California — like that in much of the Northeast — seems tilted largely toward elites. Once a state known for its relative social democracy, the Golden State is becoming what Citigroup strategist Ajay Kapur has dubbed a plutonomy, dominated largely by a small wealthy class and their spending.

For example, despite all the hype about the renewed Internet boom in Silicon Valley, there has been only modest expansion of employment, even in the past year. Undoubtedly lavish takings by a relative handful of engineers, managers and investors are boosting high-end restaurateurs in San Francisco and revving up BMW sales, but benefits don’t seem to accrue as much to assemblers, midlevel managers and other high-tech workers.

Similarly, the governor’s entertainment industry friends, as well as art and developer elites close to Mayors Antonio Villaraigosa and Gavin Newsom, may feel these are the best of times. But Los Angeles and San Francisco, along with Monterey, now suffer a poverty rate of more than 20 percent, among the highest level in the country.

Parallel to these developments, California is losing its once broad middle class, the traditional source of its political balance and much of its entrepreneurial genius. Outmigration from the state is growing and, contrary to the notions of some sophisticates, it’s not just the rubes and roughhouses who are leaving.

Indeed, an analysis of the most recent migration numbers shows a disturbing trend: an increasing out-migration of educated people from California’s largest metropolitan areas. Back in the 1990s, this was mostly a Los Angeles phenomena, but since 2000, the Bay Area appears to be suffering a high per-capita outflow of educated people.

This middle class flight is likely driven by two things: greater opportunities outside the state and the cost of housing in-state. Over the past 50 years, housing prices in coastal California in particular have grown much faster than elsewhere; the Bay Area’s rate of housing inflation over the past 50 years has been twice the national average.

Given the shrinking per-capita income advantage for being in California, moving elsewhere increasingly makes sense, particularly for those who do not already own homes and don’t have wealthy parents. In some parts of the state, barely 10 percent of households can now afford a median-price home; in the rest of the country that number is roughly 50 percent.

These trends suggest that California could be devolving toward an unappealing model of class stratification. As educated white-collar and skilled blue-collar workers leave, businesses in the state will be forced to truncate their operations — perhaps having an elite research lab, design office or marketing arm in California but shunting most midlevel jobs elsewhere.

Rush Limbaugh and Jim Cramer on Obama’s enemies list – Jon Stewart (real name is Leibowitz) is Obama’s throne sniffer

Updated March 13, 2009:

President Obama’s enemies now includes Jim Cramer of Mad Money. The list grows as the public finds life savings destroyed by BO’s socialist, wealth eroding Marxist ideals. 

Obama fan (voted for him)

Cramer, a former supporter of Obama, criticized the president yesterday on the Today Show, saying that his budget has “basically put a level of fear in this country that I have not seen ever in my life.”

“This is the most, greatest wealth destruction I’ve seen by a president,” Cramer added.

 

Cramer has a lot of business smarts. He left the newspaper business more than 10 years ago for TheStreet.com and later Mad Money on CNBC. 

 

 

 

Obama White House’s chief spokesman Robert Gibbs on Friday said he enjoyed watching “The Daily Show” talking head John Sewart tear CNBC’s Jim Cramer (a former Hearst staffer) a new one.  It was a week of payback from Cramer’s opinion that Obama has been the worst president when it comes to economis in modern history. Cramer’s Thursday appearance on Stewart’s (his real surname is Leibowitz) Comedy Central program created buzz throughout the MSM. The Stewart attacks started last Monday.

This is a gaudy scene of Obama’s power in the media. But that is fading as his popularity numbers fall. 

Press secretary Gibbs said he had spoken with President Barack Obama on Thursday about watching the Stewart-Cramer showdown.

 

From Jim Cramer — “Now some, including Rush Limbaugh, would say I am on Obmama’s enemies list: that of the White House. Limbaugh says there are only a handful of us on it, and if I am on it for defending all of the shareholders out there, then I am in good company. Limbaugh — whom I do not know personally, but having been in radio myself, know professionally as a genius of the medium — says, ‘They’re going to shut Cramer up pretty soon, too, but he’ll go down with a fight.'”

Carlson, reached Friday, described Stewart as “a partisan demagogue.”

“Jim Cramer may be sweaty and pathetic—he certainly was last night—but he’s not responsible for the current recession,” Carlson told POLITICO. “His real sin was attacking Obama’s economic policies. If he hadn’t done that, Stewart never would have gone after him. Stewart’s doing Obama’s bidding. It’s that simple.” — Tucker Carlson on Jon Stewart’s hatchet job. 

 

JON Stewart, the leftist who continues to support only Democrat/Socialist causes and has proven to be a big supporter of Obama, may have had a secret weapon in his corner to help him prep for his grudge match with “Mad Money” host, Jim Cramer – his older brother.

As the Wall Street Journal recently pointed out, Stewart’s brother, Larry Leibowitz, is head of US Markets & Global Technology at NYSE Euronext. (Stewart’s given surname is also “Leibowitz,” but he famously told “60 Minutes” that he changed it to “Stewart” because Leibowitz “sounded too Hollywood” Why? Is he ashamed to be a Jew?) Larry has also held high positions at Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley.

A Page Six spy who recently shared an elevator ride at the NYSE with Leibowitz and Big Board CEO Duncan Niederauersays, “They both got off on the sixth floor, after Leibowitz had practically been doing everything but shine his shoes for the short ride up. What a routine they have. One brother pretends to kick Wall Street’s butt by crucifying Cramer on his show, while the other brother is down on Wall Street kissing it.”

Whatever advice the elder Leibowitz gave the talk-show host before last week’s showdown, it worked: The typically loudmouthed Cramer was uncharacteristically silent in the face of Stewart’s attacks and even seemed repentant at times.

Meanwhile, the hit to Cramer’s credibility has been followed by a hit to his ratings. While a CNBC rep says that March numbers for “Mad Money” are up overall compared to February, the show suffered a 2 percent decline in viewership in the days following Cramer’s appearance on Stewart’s “The Daily Show” and 6 percent in the 25-54 demographic. — The NY Daily News

 

 

Back to Rush

After the CPAC speech Rush Limbaugh gave — going  for  1.5 hours, the White House spokesman, Mr. Gibbs keeps up the attacks on Mr. Limbaugh to marginalize him.

This is Soviet-style politics. The Democratic/Socialists are targeting Rush Limbaugh because they know the “blame Bush” propaganda has lost its political currency with the masses. 

 

Top Democrats believe they have struck political gold by depicting Rush Limbaugh as the new face of the Republican Party, a full-scale effort first hatched by some of the most familiar names in politics and now being guided in part from inside the White House.

The strategy took shape after Democratic strategists Stanley Greenberg and James Carville included Limbaugh’s name in an October poll and learned their longtime tormentor was deeply unpopular with many Americans, especially younger voters. Then the conservative talk-radio host emerged as an unapologetic critic of Barack Obama shortly before his inauguration, when even many Republicans were showering him with praise.

Soon it clicked: Democrats realized they could roll out a new GOP bogeyman for the post-Bush era by turning to an old one in Limbaugh, a polarizing figure since he rose to prominence in the 1990s. — Politico.com

Rush Limbaugh has single-handedly solidified opposition to the Obama administration’s “Socio-Economic Stimulus Plan.”  Rush authored a “shot over the bow” opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal on Thursday and it got some attention. 

Barack Obama warned congressional Republicans not to side with Rush Limbaugh. Next, George Soros, the multi-billionaire socialist, (who made his money in hedge funds and betting against UK and US currency)  helps fund the Democrat Party socialist organization Moveon.org and the new Obama administration with ad mad money. 

Limbaugh has said he hopes Obama’s liberalism fails. Rush’s huge national voice (20 million adults 18-65) is a serious problem for socialists. He is the leader of free enterprise and the enemy of Big Brother government.

The Obama White House has endorsed an ad attacking Limbaugh to try and isolate and muzzle him. They started airing immediately following the WSJ opinion piece. 

But wait, there are more attacks from the White House as financial analysts point out Obama’s lack of economics training. Jim Cramer stated on his popular cable show that Obama has destroyed more wealth than any other president. 

There is chatter on the Internet about plans at high levels to silence Limbaugh and later Michael Savage a Top 3 national radio host. They have had death threats before. But the online chatter seems to be at an all time high. 

The plans could go something like this: pick from a handful of  mentally handicapped, Islamic fanatics  and set a few up as the patsies in an  assassination of Rush. The blame will be deflected from the Democrats (who benefit). About two or three months later, Michael Savage will appear to have “committed  suicide.” 

Or just pave the way for the “Fairness Doctrine” by smearing Savage as a “Hate Monger.”  This will scare off advertisers and have stations dropping Savage thus ending his career.

Rush and Savage are very powerful free thinkers and targets. They are America’s last speed bumps on the Democrat machine’s highway to socialism. 

If these rumors come to fruition, it’s over. Welcome to the USSA.

…in my opinion.

There are a number of “legit” left-wing Web sites with subtle and sometimes bold campaigns trying to put Rush and Savage out of business, reminds me of the Nazi’s Kristol Nacht.

CAIR’s list of companies boycotting Savage show includes some that have never advertised on it or any other talk show. It’s apparently a phony list to try and defame Savage. 

CAIR —  the Council on American Islamic Relations, has been organizing a  boycott of Michael Savage’s show.

“AutoZone: CAIR wrong about Michael Savage ads,” from WorldNetDaily (thanks to D. C. Watson):

The Council on American-Islamic Relations claims a raft of companies have stopped advertising on Michael Savage’s top-rated radio talk show in response to a CAIR-instigated boycott campaign, but several of the cited companies say they don’t know what the Islamic lobby group is talking about.In a recent announcement claiming Universal Orlando Resorts “drops ‘Savage Nation’ ads,” CAIR stated:

“Advertisers that have already stopped airing, or refuse to air commercials on ‘Savage Nation’ include AutoZone, Citrix, JCPenney and Citgo.”

 

Most of these companies have not been advertising on any talk radio shows, including Air America. 

But we know that Media Matters, a leftist/socialist DC Web site staffed by college students, many working for free for the cause, has tried to have Rush’s show taken off Armed Services Radio.

We request that  talk radio host Rush Limbaugh from the American Forces Radio and Television Service (formerly known as Armed Forces Radio). 

The request never gained support in the Bush administration, what will we see happen with the new Obama/Democrat one party government? 

Limbaugh has had his share of death threats. He has also had his quota of criticism from the media, or the liberal media, as he tends to call it. He hates interviews and has rarely given any –The London Telegraph

 

 

Chronicle’s chronic losses lead to major cuts at the Bay Area’s largest newspaper — papers coast-to-coast cutting staff

The San Francisco Chronicle ready for some major “right sizing.”

After some more streamlining in addition to a new printing process off site, the largest newspaper in Northern California should begin to be profitable again.  

In a posted statement, Hearst said if the savings cannot be accomplished “quickly” the company will seek a buyer, and if none comes forward, it will close the Chronicle. The Chronicle lost more than $50 million in 2008 and is on a pace to lose more than that this year, Hearst said.

Frank J. Vega, chairman and publisher of the Chronicle, said, “It’s just a fact of life that we need to live within our means as a newspaper – and we have not for years.”

Vega said plans remain on track for the June 29 transition to new presses owned and operated by Canadian-based Transcontinental Inc., which will give the Chronicle industry-leading color reproduction. That move will save a few million annually due to the reduction of highly paid pressmen.

If the reductions can be accomplished, Vega said, “We are optimistic that we can emerge from this tough cycle with a healthy and vibrant Chronicle.”

The company did not specify the size of the staff reductions or the nature of the other cost-savings measures it has in mind. The company said it will immediately seek discussions with the Northern California Media Workers Guild, Local 39521, and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 853, which represent the majority of workers at the Chronicle.

“Because of the sea change newspapers everywhere are undergoing and these dire economic times, it is essential that our management and the local union leadership work together to implement the changes necessary to bring the cost of producing the Chronicle into line with available revenue,” Frank A. Bennack, Jr., Hearst vice chairman and chief executive, and Steven R. Swartz, president of Hearst Newspapers, said in a joint statement.

From the Newsosaur:

SF Chron cost-cut target equals 47% of staff

If the San Francisco Chronicle had to slash enough payroll to offset the more than $50 million operating loss threatening its future, nearly half of its 1,500 employees would be dismissed.

That’s the magnitude of the challenge facing the managers and union representatives who were tasked today by Hearst Corp. to find a way to cut the paper’s mushrooming deficit – or else.

After losing more than $1 billion without seeing a dime of profit since purchasing the paper in 2000, the Hearst Corp. today threatened to sell or close the Chronicle if sufficient savings were not identified to staunch operating losses surpassing $1 million a week. Without significant cost reductions, the losses would accelerate this year as a result of the ailing economy, said Michael Keith, a spokesman for the paper.

To wipe out a $50 million loss, let alone make a profit, the paper would have to eliminate 47% of its entire staff

Meanwhile, on the East Coast:

The latest Hartford Courant (former Times-Mirror newspaper) layoffs were announced last night – political reporter Mark Pazniokas is among those cut from the newspaper. We’ve been told these names as well – please correct us if we have anything wrong: Jesse Hamilton of the Washington bureau,  Religion Reporter Elizabeth Hamilton, Business Reporter Robin Stansbury, Environment Reporter David Funkhouser, reporters  Steve Grant and Anna Marie Somma, sportswriter Matt Eagan,  itowns editor Loretta Waldman, itowns reporter Nancy Lastrina, administrative assistant Judy Prato, Marge Ruschau, Features copy editors Adele Angle and David Wakefield, and library staffer & researcher Owen Walker.

We’re told that editor/reporter Kate Farrish resigned earlier this week as did editor John Ferraro.

Denis Horgan is calling it the Mardi Gras Massacre.

Paul Bass has more in the New Haven Independent.

Now, back to Texas:

Memo from San Antonio Express-News’ editor

From: Rivard, Robert
Sent: Wednesday, February 25, 2009 10:44 AM
To: SAEN Editorial
Subject: We are canceling this morning’s news meeting for obvious reasons.

Colleagues:

By now you have read Tom Stephenson’s message to all employees. Every division of the Express-News will be affected, including every department in the newsroom. Incremental staff and budget cuts, we are sorry to say, have proven inadequate amid changing social and market forces now compounded by this deepening recession.

It is not lost on us as journalists in this difficult moment that we have built an audience of readers, in print and online, that is larger and more diverse than at any time in our century and half of publishing. We have done that at the Express-News through a commitment to excellence and public service. Now we must find ways to maintain these high levels of journalistic distinction even as valued colleagues depart. It is an unfortunate but undeniable fact that declining advertising revenues are insufficient to support our operations at current levels. At the same time, more and more people have become accustomed to reading us at no cost on the Internet. As a result, we are reducing the newsroom staff by some 75 positions, counting layoffs and open positions we are eliminating.

As a first step to securing our future and continuing to serve the community, we are undergoing a fundamental and painful restructuring of the newsroom staff. We will have fewer departments and fewer managers, and yes, fewer of every class of journalist. After we reorganize and consolidate additional operations with the Houston Chronicle, we will then turn to finding new ways to create and present the journalism we know is vital to the city and the region. There is every indication the community we serve recognizes our importance and wants the Express-News to succeed.

The newsroom leadership team will begin now to meet with individuals whose jobs are being eliminated. Brett Thacker and I are working with these editors to carry out such notifications as swiftly and humanely as possible. No one is being asked to leave the Express-News today unless you so choose. March 20 will be the final day for those whose jobs are being cut, at which time they will then receive involuntary separation packages that include two weeks’ pay for each year of service up to one year’s pay, along with other benefits. Some production journalists involved in the consolidation project with the Houston Chronicle will be asked to stay on until that project is completed in the coming months. Those who do stay until the completion will receive their separation packages at that time.

We have worked to preserve the size and depth of our newsroom in every imaginable way these past months and years, but events beyond our control have overwhelmed those efforts. Newsrooms become like families, but companies in every industry reach a point where they face fundamental, sometimes harsh change in order to preserve their viability. We are at that point. Most of you read yesterday’s news regarding the San Francisco Chronicle and recently became aware of pending staff cuts at the Houston Chronicle. Our intention is to get through these difficult days and work to remain an indispensible source of news and information through the recession and beyond.

Hearst purchased the Chronicle in 2000, but soon afterward felt the impact of an economic downturn in the dot.com sector as well as the loss of classified advertising to Craigslist and other online sites. The problems have been exacerbated by the current recession.

In the news release, the privately-held, New York-based company said that the Chronicle has had “major losses” since 2001.

Back on the West Coast, there is no safe haven.

Sacramento Guild bracing for job cuts

Woe is us, McClatchy warns

Media Workers Guild – 12 Feb 2009

Sacramento Bee employees should expect a serious wave of layoffs in early March, as well as other cost-cutting measures now being considered, including wage cuts and mandatory furloughs as McClatchy Newspapers’ financial crisis worsens, company representatives told the Guild’s bargaining committee in a 90-minute session Thursday.

Mercury Bargaining Bulletin 9

 

Mercury News wants $1.5 million cut from wages and benefits

 

California Media Workers Guild – 10 Feb 2009

Mercury News negotiators said Tuesday they need to find $1.5 million by cutting wages and benefits paid to Guild members annually in the face of the economic woes facing the company. The company’s announcement came at a bargaining session Tuesday that kicked off an effort by management and the Guild to expedite the process of reaching a new contract to replace the one that expired October 31.

“Given the losses the Chronicle continues to sustain, the time to implement these changes cannot be long. These changes are designed to give the Chronicle the best possible chance to survive this economic downturn and continue to serve the people of the Bay Area with distinction, as it has since 1865,” Bennack and Swartz said in their statement.

“Survival is the outcome we all want to achieve,” they added. “But without specific changes we are seeking across the entire Chronicle organization, we will have no choice but to quickly seek a buyer for the Chronicle, and, should a buyer not be found, to shut down the newspaper.”

The Hearst statement further said that cost reductions are part of a broader effort to restore the Chronicle to financial health. At the beginning of the year, the Chronicle raised its prices for home delivery and single-copy purchases.

Hearst owns 15 other newspapers including the Houston Chronicle, San Antonio News-Express and the Albany Times-Union in New York . Hearst announced Jan. 9 that in March that if a buyer is not found it will close Seattle Post-Intelligencer, which has lost money since 2000.

Vega said readers and advertisers will see no difference in the Chronicle during the discussions with the unions.

“Even with the reduction in workforce, our goal will be to retain our essential and well-read content,” Vega said. “We will continue to produce the very best newspaper for our readers and preserve one of San Francisco ‘s oldest and most important institutions.”

The Chronicle, the Bay Area’s largest and oldest newspaper, is read by more than 1.6 million people weekly. It also operates SFGate, among the nation’s 10 largest news Web sites. SFGate depends on the Chronicle’s print news staff for much its content.

The San Francisco Bay Area is home to 21 daily newspapers covering an 11-county area.

The Chronicle’s news staff of about 275, even after a series of reductions in recent years, is the largest of any newspaper in the Bay Area.

“While the reductions are an unfortunate sign of the times, the news staff has always been resilient in San Francisco ,” said Ward Bushee, editor and executive vice president. “We remain fully dedicated toward serving our readers with an outstanding newspaper. We are playing to win.”

The area’s other leading newspapers – the Bay Area Media News Group that includes the San Jose Mercury News, Contra Costa Times and Oakland Tribune – also have seen revenues decline sharply and cut staff.

These problems are a reflection of those faced by newspapers across America as they experience fundamental changes in their business model brought on by rapid growth in readership on free internet sites, a decline in paid circulation, the erosion of advertising and rising costs.

Advertising traditionally has offset the cost of producing and delivering a newspaper, which allowed publishers to charge readers substantially less than the actual cost of doing business. The loss of advertising has undermined that pricing model.

In the case of the Chronicle, Vega said the expense of producing and delivering the newspaper to a seven-day subscriber is more than double the $7.75 weekly cost to subscribe.

At the beginning of the year, in an effort to evolve its business model and offset its substantial losses, the Chronicle raised its subscription and newsstand prices, taking a cue from European papers that charge far more than their American counterparts.

“We know that people in this community care deeply about the Chronicle,” Vega said. “In today’s world, the Chronicle is still very inexpensive. This is a critical time and we deeply hope our readers will stick with us.”

The challenge the Chronicle faces, Vega said, is to bring its revenues from advertising and circulation into balance with its expenses so that the newspaper can at least break even financially.

“We are asking our unions to work with us as partners in making these difficult cost-cutting decisions and reduction in force to ensure the newspaper survives,” Vega said.

Michael Savage will have some candid comments on the layoffs. What about the content of the Chronicle’s “news?”

The union reps “negotiate” their fate:

Cost-Cutting Talks Begin – 

Guild leaders met with representatives from The Chronicle and Hearst Corp. this morning to discuss the company’s cost-cutting proposal.

We opened the meeting by underscoring our commitment to our membership and the community to do all we can to reach an agreement that will keep The Chronicle open and return it to profitability.

The company seeks a combination of wide-ranging contractual concessions in addition to layoffs, the exact number of which the company said it did not yet have. For Guild-covered positions, the company did say the job cuts would at least number 50. Other proposals include removal of some advertising sales people from Guild coverage and protection, the right to outsource — specifically mentioning Ad Production — voluntary buyouts, layoffs and wage freezes. 

We plan to closely analyze this proposal over the next few days and explore every possible alternative. Meetings will be held to discuss details with members of the bargaining unit. An informational membership meeting will be held from 5-7 p.m.tonight (Tuesday Feb. 25) at the Guild office, 3rd floor conference room.

Management reiterated its commitment to keeping The Chronicle open and to working with the Guild to secure a viable future. Despite the difficult economic environment, we are confident that by working together we can find solutions to any problems that confront us.

If you have any questions or suggestions, contact your shop steward or e-mail Unit Chair Michelle Devera, Local President Mike Cabanatuan or Unit Secretary Alissa Van Cleave.

In solidarity,

Michelle Devera, Chronicle Unit chair, michelleatsfchronunit@gmail.com
Michael Cabanatuan, Local President, ctuan@aol.com
Alissa Van Cleave, Chronicle Unit secretary, vancelave44@hotmail.com
Wally Greenwell, Chronicle Unit vice chair
Gloria La Riva, president, Typographical Sector
Carl Hall, Local Representative

Drill here, drill now, pay less, create jobs — That’s stimulous

Gov. Sarah Palin continues to make news. She understands economics and real-world energy issues. 

 

I AM DISMAYED THAT LEGISLATION HAS AGAIN BEEN INTRODUCED in Congress to prohibit forever oil and gas development in the most promising unexplored petroleum province in North America — the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, in Alaska.

Let’s not forget: Only six months ago, oil was selling for nearly $150 per barrel, while Americans were paying $4 a gallon and more for gasoline. And today, there is potential for prices to rebound as OPEC asserts its market power and as Russia disrupts needed natural gas to Europe for the second time in three years.

As I traveled throughout the country campaigning for vice president, I was glad to hear politicians, including Barack Obama, promise that “everything was on the table” to address America’s great challenges. I also found that when Americans were apprised of the facts, most people became supporters of responsible oil and gas drilling in Alaska. So, I want to remind our national leaders of this promise and make the case against this legislation:

•Oil from ANWR represents a huge, secure domestic supply that could help satisfy U.S. demand for more than 25 years.

•ANWR sits within a 20 million-acre refuge (the size of South Carolina), but thanks to advanced technology like directional drilling, the aggregated drilling footprint would be less than 2,000 acres (about one-quarter the size of Dulles Airport). This is like laying a 2-by-3-foot welcome mat on a basketball court.

•Energy development is quite compatible with the protection of our wildlife and their habitat. For example, North Slope caribou herds have grown and remained healthy throughout more than three decades of oil development. Most of the year, our coastal plain is frozen solid and thus characterized by low biological productivity.

•ANWR development would create hundreds of thousands of good American jobs, positively affecting every state by providing a safe energy supply and generating demand for goods and services.

— Gov. Sarah Palin

Recent Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac executives on Obama’s payroll — Senator Chris Dodd oversees Freddie and Fannie and has received hundreds of thousands in contributions from them. Barney Frank’s lover was a director on Fannie

UPDATE: Oct. 2, 2008

Unqualified home buyers were not the only ones who benefited from Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank’s efforts to deregulate Fannie Mae throughout the 1990s.

So did Frank’s partner, a Fannie Mae executive at the forefront of the agency’s push to relax lending restrictions.

Enron executives are in prison over much less. In fact far more money was lost to investors after Mr. Frank, trumpeted the great management of Freddie Mack and Fannie May.

We thank Bill O’Reilly for bringing up Barney Frank’s role. Fortunately, we still have a free press in this country. Wait until ’09, if Obama wins he and Nancy Pelosi promise to invoke the “Fairness Doctrine.”

Now that Fannie Mae is at the epicenter of a financial meltdown that threatens the U.S. economy, some are raising new questions about Frank’s relationship with Herb Moses, who was Fannie’s assistant director for product initiatives. Moses worked at the government-sponsored enterprise from 1991 to 1998, while Frank was on the House Banking Committee, which had jurisdiction over Fannie.

Both Frank and Moses assured the Wall Street Journal in 1992 that they took pains to avoid any conflicts of interest. Critics, however, remain skeptical.

“It’s absolutely a conflict,” said Dan Gainor, vice president of the Business & Media Institute. “He was voting on Fannie Mae at a time when he was involved with a Fannie Mae executive. How is that not germane?

“If this had been his ex-wife and he was Republican, I would bet every penny I have – or at least what’s not in the stock market – that this would be considered germane,” added Gainor, a T. Boone Pickens Fellow. “But everybody wants to avoid it because he’s gay. It’s the quintessential double standard.”

Did you read about this in the New York Times, Washington Post or San Francisco Chronicle?

UPDATE: 9/25/08

Countrywide Financial, the biggest U.S. mortgage lender, made large, previously undisclosed home loans to two additional executives of Fannie Mae, the government-chartered firm at the center of the U.S. credit crisis.

This is what Lindsey Graham said on Greta’s show: “And this deal that’s on the table now is not a very good deal. Twenty percent of the money that should go to retire debt that will be created to solve this problem winds up in a housing organization called ACORN that is an absolute ill-run enterprise, and I can’t believe we would take money away from debt retirement to put it in a housing program that doesn’t work.”

Imagine what $140,000,000 can do to for ACORN and the Democrat party?

The FBI is investigating Freddie, Fannie, and AGI.
One of Countrywide’s previously undisclosed customers at Fannie was Jamie Gorelick, an influential Democratic Party figure whose $960,000 mortgage refinancing in 2003 was handled through a program reserved for influential figures and friends of Countrywide’s chief executive at the time, Angelo Mozilo. Ms. Gorelick was Fannie Mae’s vice chairman at the time. [Former Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick, listening to testimony on Capitol Hill in April, got a Countrywide refinancing while at Fannie Mae.] Associated Press

Former Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick, listening to testimony on Capitol Hill in April, got a Countrywide refinancing while at Fannie Mae.

Another Countrywide client was recently ousted Fannie Mae Chief Executive Daniel Mudd, though it isn’t clear whether he received special treatment on two $3 million mortgage refinancings he made when he was the company’s chief operating officer.

In an interview, Ms. Gorelick said she had no knowledge of receiving special treatment. A financial adviser to Mr. Mudd said he received interest rates in line with the prevailing market.

The Fannie loans — including a series of already reported preferential loans to former Fannie chief executives James Johnson and Franklin Raines — underscore the close connections between Countrywide and Fannie Mae and raise potential conflict-of-interest issues.

UPDATE: 9/24/08

Statement by John McCain, May 25, 2006:

Mr. President, this week Fannie Mae’s regulator reported that the company’s quarterly reports of profit growth over the past few years were “illusions deliberately and systematically created” by the company’s senior management, which resulted in a $10.6 billion accounting scandal.

The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight’s report goes on to say that Fannie Mae employees deliberately and intentionally manipulated financial reports to hit earnings targets in order to trigger bonuses for senior executives. In the case of Franklin Raines, Fannie Mae’s former chief executive officer, OFHEO’s report shows that over half of Mr. Raines’ compensation for the 6 years through 2003 was directly tied to meeting earnings targets. The report of financial misconduct at Fannie Mae echoes the deeply troubling $5 billion profit restatement at Freddie Mac.

The OFHEO report also states that Fannie Mae used its political power to lobby Congress in an effort to interfere with the regulator’s examination of the company’s accounting problems. This report comes some weeks after Freddie Mac paid a record $3.8 million fine in a settlement with the Federal Election Commission and restated lobbying disclosure reports from 2004 to 2005. These are entities that have demonstrated over and over again that they are deeply in need of reform.

For years I have been concerned about the regulatory structure that governs Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac–known as Government-sponsored entities or GSEs–and the sheer magnitude of these companies and the role they play in the housing market. OFHEO’s report this week does nothing to ease these concerns. In fact, the report does quite the contrary. OFHEO’s report solidifies my view that the GSEs need to be reformed without delay.

I join as a cosponsor of the Federal Housing Enterprise Regulatory Reform Act of 2005, S. 190, to underscore my support for quick passage of GSE regulatory reform legislation. If Congress does not act, American taxpayers will continue to be exposed to the enormous risk that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pose to the housing market, the overall financial system, and the economy as a whole.

I urge my colleagues to support swift action on this GSE reform legislation.

Mac and Mae meltdown. Which Democrats benefited from the quasi-government agencies?

UPDATE: 9/24/2008
Opensecrets.com has looked into the public records of direct contributions from the organizations of Freddie and Fannie, not including the donations from top executives. The FBI is opening major investigations into the actions of the organizations.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Invest in Democrats

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(For an updated chart that includes contributions from Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae’s PACs and employees to ALL lawmakers back to 1989, including to their leadership PACs, go here.) and data The federal government recently announced that it will come to the rescue of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, two embattled mortgage buyers that for years have pursued a lobbying strategy to get lawmakers on their side. Both companies have poured money into lobbying and campaign contributions to federal candidates, parties and committees as a general tactic, but they’ve also directed those contributions strategically. In the 2006 election cycle, Fannie Mae was giving 53 percent of its total $1.3 million in contributions to Republicans, who controlled Congress at that time. This cycle, with Democrats in control, they’ve reversed course, giving the party 56 percent of their total $1.1 million in contributions. Similarly, Freddie Mac has given 53 percent of its $555,700 in contributions to Democrats this cycle, compared to the 44 percent it gave during 2006.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have also strategically given more contributions to lawmakers currently sitting on committees that primarily regulate their industry. Fifteen of the 25 lawmakers who have received the most from the two companies combined since the 1990 election sit on either the House Financial Services Committee; the Senate Banking, Housing & Urban Affairs Committee; or the Senate Finance Committee. The others have seats on the powerful Appropriations or Ways & Means committees, are members of the congressional leadership or have run for president. Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), chairman of the Senate banking committee, has received the most from Fannie and Freddie’s PACs and employees ($133,900 since 1989). Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.) has received $65,500. Kanjorski chairs the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance and Government-Sponsored Enterprises, and Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are government-sponsored enterprises, or GSEs.
Campaign Contributions, 1989-2008

Top Recipients of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

Name

Office

Party/State

Total

1. Dodd, Christopher

S

D-CT

$133,900

2. Kerry, John

S

D-MA

$111,000

3. Obama, Barack

S

D-IL

$105,849

4. Clinton, Hillary

S

D-NY

$75,550

5. Kanjorski, Paul E

H

D-PA

$65,500

This is a story that you won’t read about in the mainstream media. The Clinton administration marching orders to open up home loans to people unqualified, (socialization of home ownership). Today, the Democrats have taken over the U.S. Congress and have a 50/50 chance to take over the White House.
Look into the Barney Frank, Chris Dodd and Barack Obama connection — they have recieved millions of dollars from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Chris Dodd also received a sweet deal from Countrywide. These same people in “public service” are not investigating the corruption. For the past two years, the Democrats have held the majority controlling status of the House and Senate. So they will not turn in their own.

“Freddie and Fannie used huge lobbying budgets and political contributions to keep regulators off their backs.

A group called the Center for Responsive Politics keeps track of which politicians get Fannie and Freddie political contributions. The top three U.S. senators getting big Fannie and Freddie political bucks were Democrats and No. 2 on the list is Sen. Barack Obama.

Fannie and Freddie have been creations of the congressional Democrats and the Clinton White House, designed to make mortgages available to more people and, as it turns out, many people who couldn’t afford them… Now remember: Obama’s ads and stump speeches attack McCain and Republican policies for the current financial turmoil. It is demonstrably not Republican policy and worse, it appears the man attacking McCain — Sen. Obama — was at the head of the line when the piggies lined up at the Fannie and Freddie trough for campaign bucks.

Sen. Barack Obama: No. 2 on the Fannie/Freddie list of favored politicians after just two years in the Senate.

Next time you see that ad, you might notice he fails to mention that part of the Fannie and Freddie problem.”

Now let’s look at Franklin Raines, Barack Obama’s campaign manager — previously a Fannie Mae top executive.

This story is serious but it won’t receive any attention from the mainstream media who benefit from a socialist America and Barack Obama as President.

“Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have also strategically given more contributions to lawmakers currently sitting on committees that primarily regulate their industry. Fifteen of the 25 lawmakers who have received the most from the two companies combined since the 1990 election sit on either the House Financial Services Committee; the Senate Banking, Housing & Urban Affairs Committee; or the Senate Finance Committee. The others have seats on the powerful Appropriations or Ways & Means committees, are members of the congressional leadership or have run for president. Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), chairman of the Senate banking committee, has received the most from Fannie and Freddie’s PACs and employees ($133,900 since 1989). Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.) has received $65,500. Kanjorski chairs the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance and Government-Sponsored Enterprises, and Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are government-sponsored enterprises, or GSEs.”

The names of the top four recipients of Campaign contributions from Fannie and Freddie over the last 10 years is also interesting – Christopher Dodd, John Kerry, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton (all top Democrats for those keeping a scorecard).
About Franklin Raines and James Johnson
James A. Johnson (born December 24, 1943) is a United States Democratic Party political figure. He was the campaign manager for Walter Mondale’s failed 1984 presidential bid and chaired the vice presidential selection committee for the presidential campaign of John Kerry. He was involved in the vice-presidential selection process for the 2008 Democratic presidential nominee Senator Barack Obama.
Johnson began his career as a faculty member at Princeton University, later moving on to the United States Senate as a staff member and to the Dayton-Hudson Corporation (now Target Corp.) as director of public affairs. He was executive assistant to Vice President Walter Mondale during the entire Carter Administration (1977-1981). Later, he founded and headed Public Strategies, a private consulting firm, from 1981 to 1985 before leaving for Lehman Brothers.
From 1991 to 1998, he served as chairman and chief executive officer of the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae), the quasi-public organization that guarantees mortgages for millions of American homeowners. Previously, he was vice chairman of Fannie Mae (1990-1991). An Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight report from September 2004 found that, during Johnson’s tenure as CEO, Fannie Mae had improperly deferred $200 million in expenses. This enabled top executives, including Johnson and his successor, Franklin Raines, to receive substantial bonuses that they would have otherwise not earned.
As of 2006, he is a vice chairman of the private banking firm Perseus LLC, a position he has held since 2001. He is also a board member at Goldman Sachs, Gannett Company, Inc., a media holding group, KB Home, a home construction firm, Target Corporation, Temple-Inland, and UnitedHealth Group.
Johnson has also served as chairman of both the Kennedy Center for the Arts (1996-2004) and the Brookings Institution (1994-2003). He is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Friends of Bilderberg, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Trilateral Commission.
On May 22, Democratic Party officials confidentially divulged that Obama had asked Johnson “to lead the process” for selecting Obama’s running mate.On June 4, 2008, Obama announced the formation of a three person committee to vet vice presidential candidates, including Johnson. However, Johnson soon became a source of controversy when it was reported that he had received loans directly from Angelo Mozilo, the CEO of Countrywide Financial, a company implicated in the U.S. subprime mortgage lending crisis. Although he was not accused of any wrongdoing and was initially defended by Obama on the grounds that he was simply an unpaid volunteer, Johnson announced he would step down from the vice-presidential vetting position on June 11, 2008 in order to avoid being a distraction to Obama’s campaign.
On September 19, the McCain/Palin campaign released an ad showing Obama linked him to Johnson.
What does Don Imus have to say about his old pals? They threw him under the train.
Give us your thoughts, my friends.