Thursday, March 19, 2009

A "Sunshine Week" observation

When Congress passed the so-called stimulus package last month, the major media (Washington Post and NY Times articles, Feb. 14, 2009) reported that the bill limited executive compensation at firms receiving bailout billions.

As far as I can find, what didn't get reported (until yesterday) was a gigantic loophole slipped into the bill by Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd, which exempted bonuses paid pursuant to contracts entered into between bailout recipients and their executives prior to Feb. 11, 2009. That's the loophole that allowed AIG to pay $165 million in bonuses. Dodd is now saying the Treasury Dept. made him write the loophole into the bill. Republican members of Congress are calling for an investigation.

The blame games continue. And the yappers on TV "news" shows gleefully play along.

I'm afraid this episode is evidence of the consequences of the plight of journalism today and a harbinger of things to come. Newspapers folding up and the decimation of remaining print newsrooms (think of all the shuttered Washington bureaus!) mean fewer and fewer people are left to do the job. If NY Times and Washington Post aren't reporting something like this giant, disgraceful loophole — who will? Who will read the fine print and shed light on what government is doing with all these many trillions?

Ironic that this revelation comes out during national "Sunshine Week" isn't it?