By Mary Bottari
Last week, tragedy was averted when savvy security at Deutsche Bank (DB) in Frankfurt, Germany, spotted a suspicious package and sequestered a letter bomb intended for the DB CEO. This was the second time Deutsche Bank was attacked in this manner. In 1989, their CEO was killed by a bomb later traced to violent extremists in Germany's Red Army Faction.
Scanning the horizon for someone to blame for the latest attack on Germany's largest bank, FOX news pundit Dan Gainor worked "the Internets." Did he detail Deutsche Bank's track record of making friends by ripping off consumers and foreclosing on their homes? Did he mention that Deutsche Bank stirred public ire when it was bailed out by multiple governments, including two billion from the U.S. Federal Reserve? Did he even bother to notice that it was widely reported that an Italian anarchist group had already claimed responsibility for the attack?
No. In his piece on FOX News, "Left, Obama Escalate War on Banks Into Dangerous Territory," Gainor decided to go after the bank-busting activists at the Center for Media and Democracy in Madison, Wisconsin, specifically our BanksterUSA.org site, because the Bankster masthead is riddled with bullet holes.
While I am Italian, I doubt very much that Italian anarchists are getting their inspiration from our little site, which at the moment features a Smithsonian Magazine profile of Ferdinand Pecora and which has been documenting the financial crisis for the past two years.
Bullets, Fountain Pens, and BankstersWhy bullet holes on a site that tallies the bailout ($4.7 trillion and counting), pushes for the formal prosecutions of big banks ("too big to fail, not too big for jail"), criticizes Tim Geithner and the Federal Reserve on a regular basis and pushes for new ideas for holding the big banks accountable for collapsing the global economy?
Our site, which is geared toward helping consumers weigh in on public policy debates involving bank reform initiatives, salutes the great Woody Guthrie by featuring his lyrical line: "Some will rob you with a six-gun, some with a fountain pen." The site also pays homage to Ferdinand Pecora, the fiery Italian immigrant and former prosecutor who was chosen by the Senate banking committee to delve into the causes of the stock market crash and resulting Great Depression. The "Pecora Commission" hearings laid the ground work for the 1932 Glass-Steagall Act and other laws that kept our financial system stable for more than half a century. The term "Bankster" was popularized as John Pierpont Morgan, Charles Mitchell, and other titans of Wall Street were publicly grilled by Pecora.
In the Bankster/Gangster trope, as in the real world, it is the big banks that hold all the weapons. All this is obvious from a quick perusal of our site, so what is really going on here? Clearly, the Occupation is on the move.
Occupy Wall Street Has FOX News on the RunYou don't need high-priced polling to tell you that Occupy Wall Street tapped into a deep well of resentment against the big banks. So many Americans hate big banks for what they have done to our economy and for the ruthless way they are continuing to profit off of misery (such as bank fees on foodstamps and unemployment transactions and the ceaseless senseless foreclosures), that pollsters say dislike of the big banks is becoming an "American value."
FOX has been flummoxed by the Occupy Wall Street movement. First characterizing protesters as dirty hippies, FOX is now forced into the awkward position of seeing GOP presidential candidates adopting the Wall Street reform message. Mitt Romney is now purportedly part of the 99 percent, and Jon Huntsman offered a serious proposal to break up the banks if he is elected -- whittling the behemoths whose assets represent over 60 percent of GDP down to a size that can no longer pose a threat to the stability of the U.S. economy.
The American Bankers Association and their hired PR flaks understand that the big banks "stand at the nexus of where OWS protesters and the Tea Party overlap" and multi-million dollar PR campaigns will need to be undertaken to try to turn that around. Into the breach, comes FOX. Linking bank campaigners like BanksterUSA, SEIU, and Occupy Wall Street to an attempted bombing overseas is an old trick to discredit a movement that has Wall Street and its friends deeply worried.
Gainor's Group Funded by Koch, Bradley, Scaife & T. Boone PickensGainor's penchant for passing over-the-top accusations and unsubstantiated attacks as journalism should come as no surprise since he has the honor of being the T. Boone Pickens Fellow of the Media Research Center (MRC). Pickens is the oil tycoon who helped George W. Bush's efforts to keep the White House in 2004 by bankrolling the so-called "SwiftBoat Veterans for The Truth." The two million dollars Pickens gave the Swift Boaters helped underwrite four TV ads attacking Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry with spurious claims about his military service and awards. Pickens is a "trustee" of the MRC, which was created by Brent Bozell, previously the chairman of the National Conservative Political Action Committee.
The MRC has received untold sums from Pickens as well as from other right-wing funders like the Koch, Bradley, Scaife, Olin, DeVos and Coors family foundations, as well as from Exxon, the latter for MRC's aid in denying climate change. Its income from these and other patrons of the 1% topped $12 million in 2010. (Meanwhile, in his article Gainor falsely claimed BanksterUSA is funded by George Soros' Open Society Institute even though CMD has noted on PRWatch that its grant is for the national security and surveillance research of CMD's Executive Director, Lisa Graves, who has testified before Congress on such issues.)
MRC also gets some receipts from selling doormats urging people to "Stomp Out the Liberal Media" featuring the faces of Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann.
Gainor vs. Grayson KnockdownThe Center for Media and Democracy's BanksterUSA.org has given voice to a lot of angry Americans as the bank crisis and the bailout unfolded, but it has never advocated violence in its harsh critique of failed banks and failed bank regulators. Gainor, on the other hand, offered $100 to anyone who would punch Congressman Alan Grayson in the nose. He then tried to back off his offer by claiming it was in jest while also saying he would like to see the video of the assault.
What had the sitting Congressman done to provoke Gainor's ire? Grayson had spoken on the floor of the United States Congress demanding that Republicans stop blocking unemployment insurance extensions for hard-working taxpayers who had lost their jobs as a result of the gambling of Wall Street bankers.