Thursday, May 20, 2010

SEIU's Answer To Nina Easton

On Sunday, when hundreds of taxpayers went to Bank of America lobbyist Greg Baer's home to ask him to stop foreclosing on their neighborhoods, we received a mixed welcome. Some folks actually came out and applauded us, giving us thumbs up as we went past. Most people just stood and watched. Baer himself tried to blend in with the crowd until a neighbor pointed him out and he stormed away.

But there was one woman that everyone remembers. She came running outside while Mark Freeman was preparing to tell how Bank of America is trying to kick him and his family out of their home. The bank jacked his payments up until he could no longer afford them - then foreclosed on him. As he was getting ready to talk, a woman came storming across her lawn, screaming at us to shut up and go away - telling us we had no business being there.

That woman was Nina Easton, Washington editor of Fortune magazine. The next day, she got on the phone with Stephen Lerner, head of SEIU's banking reform project, and ranted some more. And, today, she's continuing her rant in an article for Fortune magazine and CNN Money.

Ms. Easton paints a terrifying picture of a "mob" with pitchforks and torches outside her window. The problem is, her story doesn't quite mesh with the facts. More on that in a minute.

The really interesting question here is: why is Ms. Easton so angry? And why has she decided to use her position as a member of the media to air her own personal rant at the people who showed up to share their foreclosure stories?

Nina Easton's husband's firm has Business Roundtable as a client, a special interest group that counts giant banks like Bank of America as members.

One Google search clears it up pretty quickly. Her husband is Russell Schriefer, Republican strategist and consultant to several big corporate interest groups. In fact, her husband's client list includes the Business Roundtable, a special interest group that counts Bank of America and other Wall Street banks among its members.

Ms. Easton's husband used to be a corporate lobbyist himself, before he started his own consulting firm for Republican politicians and corporate interest groups like the Business Roundtable and the Chamber of Commerce. Now, according to his website, he helps garner positive media for "a wide range of corporate clients including Fortune 500 companies and national associations."

And with his wife's Bank of America apologist piece today, he can chalk up another victory for his clients.

So, it's becoming clearer why Nina Easton decided to use her position as editor to write a personal rant. Her family profits off Bank of America's success. The next question is, why would any self-respecting news outlet choose to run it?

That's what we're trying to figure out now. We have a call in with her managing editor but, so far, have gotten no response. See update above.

Even if you ignore the obvious personal bias, the article is rife with hyperbole and distortion.

Ms. Easton uses her article to criticize the police for their "belated" response time and says they were too scared to arrest us. The truth is, the police actually followed us to the event to help keep the peace. They were on the scene when we were. The reason they didn't make any arrests is because nobody did anything illegal. In fact, the police went on record as saying it was a "very peaceful" event.

She also seems to suggest that we shouldn't have tried to talk to Baer because he is a "lifelong Democrat." This is ridiculous. The foreclosure crisis has nothing to do with political party and everything to do with banks and their lobbyists using their influence ($$$) with politicians of all stripes to keep things the way they are.

That's why we were there and why people will continue to stand up to the banks and their lobbyists, who continue to do everything they can to keep Wall Street profiting at Main Street's expense.

If Nina Easton really wants to see "personal intimidation," she should head outside her posh neighborhood and follow along next time Bank of America forecloses on a family. Unlike us, they won't be there just to talk to them. They'll be there to take away their home.

This picture is from their website - doesn't this look like trespassing to you?

Read Nina Easton's article here


Anonymous said...

Well, it DOES look like trespassing to me. If a bunch of strangers were on MY lawn with bullhorns, and my children were hiding in the bathroom, I think that crosses a line. Protest the companies, fine, but children in the home should be left alone. And if I saw more than a dozen angry people on MY lawn, you can bet I would 1) lock the doors 2) hide in the basement and 3) take a shotgun with me just in case those "peaceful protesters" decided they didn't want to be peaceful any more.

Janie Lynn said...

Besides which, once again banks and capitalism are being demonized. No one wants to see someone lose their home. But "the bank jacked his payments up" sounds like that client signed up for balloon payments. That's what happens. I hate it that bankers are being targeted as well as ceo's and anyone who makes more money than your average Joe. If somebody signed up for that kind of loan and couldn't pay it - sell the house and get out before you are foreclosed on. Period. Don't go all postal on the banks being forced to make loans to people who probably shouldn't have gotten them in the first place. The whole thing stinks, unions most of all.

Anonymous said...

YOUR RIGHT to protest ends at the property line of a private residence. Once you cross that line, MY RIGHT to use force, up to and including deadly force, begins.
Does this illegal trespassing "protest" have anything to do with the fact that SEIU, a group hemorrhaging financially, is behind on THEIR payments to BofA to the tune of nearly $4 million in fees and interest alone. Perhaps you should explain why BofA is your lender of choice, despite your protesting their methods. There has to be a better choice for you if you disagree with their practices.
Also, it seems like Mr Baer needs to attend his next local city council meeting and assert his outrage over the woeful disregard the local police displayed in their response to this dangerous situation. I'm sure he pays taxes in his municipality, and he is entitled therefore to rule of law being enforced in a situation such as this.
Finally, how can you honestly justify/rationalize invading someone's property like this? I assume you all expected to be arrested, and had come to terms with that?

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