Category Archives: Banksters

Radio wingnuts face furious financial flameouts


Right wing talk radio is in a serious meltdown, with its two leading names being toward oblivion as their audiences age to the point advertisers are placing their media buys in other markets and stations are turning towards other formats.

From Clay Bennett of the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

From Clay Bennett of the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

The theocratic Glenn Beck, who left a fat Fox paycheck to launch his own media empire, is fing that the main fuel of The Blaze these days is investor and banker capital.

The Daily Beast reports:

The axe fell once again on Glenn Beck’s crumbling media empire Thursday as employees in the New York and Washington offices of The Blaze, Beck’s multi-media online operation, along with business staffers in Los Angeles and the documentary unit in Columbus, Ohio, were told their jobs are on the chopping block, according to multiple sources who spoke The Daily Beast on condition of anonymity.

Sources estimated that nearly 40 people are being laid off—including about 20 in New York, a dozen in Washington, five in Ohio and two or three working out of the LA office suite of former Blaze CEO Kraig Kitchin—in order to satisfy the requirements of a multimillion-dollar bank loan taken out recently to keep Beck’s revenue-challenged enterprise running.

Ironically, the mass layoffs are occurring shortly after the company hired CNN alumnus Matt Frucci, former executive producer of the cable network’s New Day morning show, to run The Blaze’s television operation in New York—which apparently will no longer exist.

 New York-based radio and television personality Buck Sexton will remain with Beck’s operation, according to an informed source, although at least some of Sexton’s production staff are losing their jobs.
From Steve Sack of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

From Steve Sack of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

And radio’s most famous wingnut, the man who gave us “feminazi,” “gorbasm,” and other bilious neologisms, is also facing tough times, reported Eric Boehlert of Media Matters earlier this month:

For talk radio, there’s probably only one contract that enters that realm of notoriety: Rush Limbaugh’s eight-year, $400-million deal, signed in the summer of 2008 with his longtime radio employer Premiere Radio Networks.

Owned by Clear Channel Communications, which has since changed its name to iHeartRadio, Premiere’s Limbaugh deal instantly dwarfed any payout in AM/FM history. (Only Howard Stern’s contract with Sirius was larger.) The contract, which included a staggering $100 million signing bonus, never panned out as the wheels began to come off Limbaugh’s radio empire.

This year, his contract is up and the timing couldn’t be worse. The talker is facing ratings hurdles, aging demographics, and an advertising community that increasingly views him as toxic, thanks in part to his days-long sexist meltdown over Sandra Fluke in 2012. (He’s also stumbling through the GOP primary season.)

Concurrently, iHeartRadio’s parent company, iHeartMedia, is heading to court, teetering on bankruptcy. The once-dominant radio behemoth is saddled with $20 billion in debt, thanks to a misguided leveraged takeover engineered by Bain Capital in 2008, the same year the radio giant inked its disastrous Limbaugh deal.

Limbaugh’s been plagued of late by those declining numbers, along with dropped stations, and decl9ining interest from other media in covering hsi scurrilous rants.

But there’s still no conspicuous mainstream radio presence from the other end of the political spectrum.

Austerians demand another Greek wage cut


The Troika of the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund are demanding yet more drastic pay and pension cuts from Greek workers to enable the banksters of the North to reap their pounds of flesh from the civic body.

No all that remains is getting approval form the national legislature yet one more time.

From To Vima:

At the recent Eurogroup, the Minister of Finance Euclid Tsakalotos reached an agreement with Greece’s creditors regarding the contingency measures that have been requested, in order to conclude the bailout review.

This package of contingency measures worth 2% of the GDP, namely 3.6 billion euros, will come into effect the government fails to reach its target for a 3.5% GDP primary surplus by 2018.

Given that the annual state expense for pensions is 30 billion euros and 15 billion euros for public sector wages, an average 8% cut will be required in order to cover the cost of the contingency measures.

It remains to be seen whether the Greek government will manage to support such a deal in Parliament. Should Athens pass the measures, a Eurogroup on the reprofiling of the debt will be called, in turn putting an end to months of instability and uncertainty.

Iceland’s president nailed by the Panama Papers


Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, the Icelandic president first elected to office in 1996 as a political science professor turned politician, has become the second national politician linked by the Panama Papers to offshore bank accounts, coming only three days after he denied an such connections.

The revelations come less than a month after the nation’s then-Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson was driven out of office over similar ties discovered in the massive leak of emails and files from a Panamanian law firm.

From the Reykjavík Grapevine:

President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson does in fact have connections to at least one offshore account, despite contentions to the contrary with CNN.

While the President told viewers of CNN that neither he nor his wife, Dorrit Moussaieff, have any connection to offshore accounts, The Grapevine has received documents that show this contention to be false.

The matter concerns a British company called Moussaieff Jewelers Limited (MJL), which is Dorrit’s family’s business. According to the Directors’ Report and Financial Statements for MJL in 2006, Lasca Finance Limited (LFL) – a company registered in the British Virgin Islands of which Dorrit’s parents are shareholders – was paid interest payments by MJL from at least 2000 until 2005, which was the last time we saw reported interest. Lasca also appears in the widely-reported Panama Papers leak.

In 2006, LFL all but disappears, and a new company appears in Hong Kong: Moussaieff Limited, of which Dorrit’s mother is the sole director and shareholder, and has been active through at least March 31, 2015. While not defined as a tax shelter by Icelandic law, Hong Kong does rank in second place on the Financial Secrecy Index.

Grapevine art director Sveinbjorn Palsson has created the perfect video mashup to accompany the story:

H/T to Birgitta Jónsdóttir.

Chart of the day: Institutional trust by the young


And guess what the young distrust even more than Wall Street. . .

From the executive summary of the Survey of Young Americans’ Attitudes Toward Politics and Public Service [PDF], a just-released national poll 18- to 29-year-olds from the Institute of Politics of Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government:

BLOG Trust

Another interesting finding from the survey reveals that while men feel Hillary Clinton would do more for women than Bernie Sanders if elected, women feel just the opposite.

Puerto Rico, red meat to predatory banksters


The power of predators to draft American financial laws should be apparent to anyone by now, but it’s still shocking to see how viciously those laws impact the lives of men, women, and children who are both citizens and colonial subjects.

Puerto Rico is the classic example, a territory whose natives are by birthright U.S. citizens, yet are simultaneously exempt from laws created to protect citizens who happen to be born in states rather than territories.

Leave it to John Oliver and his gifted staff of researchers to get to bottom of things, with a little musical help from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the hottest ticket on Broadway.

From Last Week Tonight with John Oliver:

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Puerto Rico

Program notes:

Puerto Rico is suffering a massive debt crisis. Lin-Manuel Miranda joins John Oliver to call for relief.

Blood on the newsroom floor: More carnage


2016 is shaping up as another bad year for the news media, with downsizings happening in both the United States and Europe.

We’ll begin with the most notable new example, via the New York Post:

Chairman and Publisher Arthur “Pinch” Sulzberger Jr.’s management team has been talking with some of the Times’ unions to come to a deal to provide reduced severance to those affected, sources told The Post.

“There’s a goal of a couple of hundred people,” said a source familiar with talks. “They don’t want to pay out big packages, and they’re having negotiations with the unions.”

The layoffs would likely occur between the Aug. 21 end of the summer Olympics in Brazil and Election Day on Nov. 8, sources said.

A union source confirmed there are ongoing talks about reducing severance pay, but wasn’t aware of lay-off plans at this time.

Next, the hammer falls at a major Midwestern paper, the same one esnl read as a grade schooler growing up in a small Kansas farm town.

Via Cision Media Research:

Layoffs and buyouts have hit the newsroom at The Kansas City Star. The buyouts affected several veterans of the paper, including editorial page editor Steve Paul, on staff since 1975; op-ed columnist and editorial board member Barb Shelly, with the paper since 1984; longtime theater critic Robert Trussel, on staff since 1977; digital editor Jody Cox; and assistant sports editor  Mark Zeligman.

The following staffers were laid off:

  • Greg Hack, assistant business editor
  • Alan Bavley, health reporter
  • Brian Burnes, metro reporter
  • James Fussell, features reporter
  • Mary Schulte, online photo editor

The Pittsburgh Business Times covers the kinder, gentler form of downsizing on their own home turf:

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette generated enough editorial staffers to take a second buyout offer in the last seven months that it will not move forward with any layoffs.

“With this buyout, we got near enough to where we need to be that we don’t need to go further,” said Lisa Hurm, general manager for the PG, a division of Toledo-based Block Communications, Inc.

Hurm declined to offer specifics on the number of editorial staffers to take the buyout. She added there were staff reductions in other areas of the publication along with other turnover that layoffs proved unnecessary.

PG management decided to not go forward with any involuntary layoffs after issuing a notice to the leadership of the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh of the possibility of newsroom layoffs a little more than a month ago.

Digital First Media, the company that just announced it was eliminating all but the thinnest, token veneer of editing at its Northern California newspapers, has announced the sale of more of its holdings as it continues in a desperate struggle to raise cash.

But that’s what happens when investment bankers look at newspaper holdings as profit centers, a delusion if ever there was one.

From Talking New Media:

The newspaper chain Digital First News [21 April] announced the sale of New England Newspapers Inc., a day after the chain sold The Salt Lake Tribune to Paul Huntsman, the son of businessman and philanthropist Jon M. Huntsman. The papers that are part of the group sold include three dailies and one weekly: The Berkshire Eagle, The Brattleboro Reformer, the Bennington Banner — and the weekly Manchester Journal.

The papers were sold to a local group, Birdland Acquisition LLC whose principals are John C. “Hans” Morris, former president of Visa Inc., Fredric D. Rutberg, former Pittsfield District Court judg, Robert G. Wilmers, chairman and CEO of M&T Bank, and Stanford Lipsey, publisher emeritus of The Buffalo News.

Digital First Media, which is the management company which owns MediaNews Group, Digital First Ventures, and 21st Century Media, which incorporates the old Journal Register Company, just recently was able to acquire the assets of Freedom Communications in a bankruptcy auction. In that auction, Tribune Publishing, which owns the Los Angeles Times and San Diego Union Tribune, appeared to have won the auction, which would have added the Orange County Register to its newspaper assets. But the Department of Justice stepped in objecting to the acquisition, and so Digital First Media won the auction. DFM owns papers in Southern California including the Los Angeles Daily News and Long Beach Press Telegram.

But DFM is hardly on solid financial group. A year ago the chain, owned by the private equity firm Alden Global Capital, attempted to sell itself whole, but had to back away when no seller interested in its dispersed holdings came forward to bid on the entire company.

Given that layoffs usually following sales, it’s a good news/bad news kind of story.

There’s plenty more, after the jump. . . Continue reading

Chart of the day: Indexed change in debt types


From Demos, a look at the relative changes in U.S. family debt burdens between 1989 and 2013, with all types indexed at 100 in 1989:

BLOG Debt