News Articles By Lisa Graves

Help Us Bust the Banksters; Join Our New Campaign

This week, the Center for Media and Democracy is launching its new campaign on the "Banksters" with a new companion website,, and a new portal in our online encyclopedia called the "Real Economy Project." We are so fortunate that Mary Bottari brought this much needed effort to demystify economic issues and spur people to take action to CMD, with the support of our founder, John Stauber, and our Board.

Blue darts on red targetI see this project as the beginning of a new phase in CMD's life of weighing in on crucial issues in the media and before Congress and trying to make a real difference in outcomes. In many ways, this new effort is a return to our roots and builds on CMD's long-standing mission to "inform and assist grassroots citizen activism that . . . promotes economic justice." At the same time, this effort really takes the gloves off in aiming at both the spin and the underlying policies that have undermined the promise of the American dream.

Fewer Bank Lobbyists but More Money, Influence

Politico is reporting that the financial services industry has lost about 600 registered lobbyists this year with the economic meltdown. But, the amount of money being spent on financial services lobbying is actually up from last year. So in general, the remaining bank lobbyists are actually making more money now, despite the crashed economy!

In 2008, before the bank failures, less money was being spent lobbying Congress but, astonishingly, this year after taxpayer funds were used to bailout the banks they are spending more money lobbying the federal government. Here is a clip from Politico's report:

Tough Talk from Wendell

Listen to the great journalist Greg Palast interview the Center for Media and Democracy's Wendell Potter about the way local insurance monopolies thwart reform. In the interview, Wendell considers whether Senator Olympia Snowe's support for reforms without a public option is naive or disingenuous. This past week, Wendell was on C-Span, MSNBC, the BBC, and MSNBC again, among other news shows. Below is the audio from his full interview on BBC:

"Love IS Worth Fighting For" -- Lt. Dan Choi

"Love is worth fighting for." That's how Lt. Dan Choi ended his remarks this weekend about his journey from West Point to Iraq to discharge under the continuing Pentagon policy of "don't ask, don't tell" (DADT). It really made me think about this deeply flawed policy I have opposed privately over the years. Because, as Lt. Choi distilled it so well, love is worth fighting for.

He is one of only eight people in his graduating class at West Point who majored in Arabic, and so his story also brought home to me the gap between the rhetoric about the "global war on terror" (GWOT) and the reality, in a particular way. Since I left the government over four years ago, I have been speaking out about misplaced priorities involving terrorism, civil liberties, and human rights.

Exposing How the Government Lied about National Security Letters and the Patriot Act

Last week, I was honored to be invited to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee about the Patriot Act, a new endeavor for the Center for Media and Democracy, even though CMD has covered national security-related issues in its books and on SourceWatch.

One of the reasons I was so pleased to be able to join CMD is because in Washington, DC, I saw first-hand how propaganda and selective disclosures were used to influence and distort public opinion. In my testimony, I highlighted examples from the Patriot Act debate in 2005 where key information was hidden while the bill for reauthorization was being publicly debated, and did not come out until after the bill had passed. With parts of the Patriot Act up for renewal and reform this fall, I wanted to make sure the public record included the story of how the previous Bush administration misled the American people. I also wanted to share my views about why these extraordinary powers need to be fixed to better protect civil liberties and human rights.

Welcome, Mary Bottari, the Director of the Real Economy Project of CMD!

Mary Bottari, Real Economy ProjectI am very pleased to announce that Mary Bottari is joining the Center for Media and Democracy. She is the Director of a new project we are calling the "Real Economy Project." (You know, the "real" economy, as opposed to the faux Wall Street-driven economy?)

For those of you who don’t know Mary, she really is a powerhouse — she’s an exceptional public interest advocate with tremendous communications and campaigning experience. For the last ten years, she has served as a senior analyst for the Washington, D.C.,-based consumer group Public Citizen.

She started in its Global Trade Watch division in the months before the World Trade Organization’s Seattle Ministerial meeting. Mary was deeply involved in planning for Seattle, and she ran the NGO press center to help communicate the disillusionment of labor, farm, and environmental groups with the corporate trade agenda.


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