The year’s top story is not getting coverage

The financial industry may end up doing what the media isn’t – exposing its abuses and bringing itself down.

Stocks Rise On Positive Home Building Data
Earlier this month, six Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac executives were charged with securities fraud [GALLO/GETTY]

New York, NY – As every media critic learns, the worst sin of our press is not its blatant biases, or crimes of commission, but rather the pervasive patterns of omission; what’s left out!

Already, with two weeks to go, the Associated Press has crossed the finish line with the top choice of the newspapers it serves. Perhaps in the outdated spirit of Mark Twain’s famous dictum that: “There are only two forces that can carry light to all corners of the globe – only two – the sun in the heavens and the Associated Press on earth”, their pick for story of the year is the killing of Osama bin Laden.

The AP can’t bring itself to label it for what it was – a state-sponsored assassination.

As ever, the mainstream/lamestream – call it what you will – media tails after people in power and promotes/validates their great achievements, even when it was an extra-judicial murder in the dead of night.

Institutional power is their main beat and they beat it to death with every deadline and every headline.

There is no utterance by any political hack – like most of the GOP presidential menagerie – that goes unreported.

On the progressive side of the street, 2011 was ‘All Occupy All The Time’, with the growing movement against economic inequality getting the most glowing attention.

 Inside Story US 2012: Who can fix the US economy?

I am certainly in this camp even if the encampments are mostly gone, with a TV documentary, several radio shows, countless articles and blogs, and now, a book collecting all my output, called, what else, but OCCUPY?

And yet, the story we have yet to see is the one that will ultimately define this era of avarice and insult in a year of media obsession in the US with the Kardashian wedding and break-up, the Michael Jackson trial, and the daily scandal that is there to titillate and drive up ratings.

It has yet to happen and most media outlets are not focussing on why. I am referring to the lack of any real investigation of Wall Street crimes, and the indictments of wrongdoers. I am talking about “perp walks” by guilty Wall Street CEOs on their way to joining Bernie Madoff in some institute of incarceration.

Lack of investigative oversight

This is not a call for revenge, but for justice. The reason: the barely exposed chain of criminality that started in some salon of securitisation and then rippled across the world, bringing down countries and economies. It has its origins in Wall Street, where three industries colluded as a cabal to sell fraudulent subprime loans and then transfer fees and foreclosures from poor and middle class Americans to themselves.

Where is the examination of the pillars of our “FIRE” economy – Finance, Insurance and Real Estate. They became the interconnected cogs in a leverage machine to enrich themselves while plundering the rest of us.

So far, this story affecting so many millions has not really crashed through in the 1 per cent media machine with a few exceptions here and there.

If you want to find out about this story of the year and years past, in all of its disgusting detail, you can’t just trust major media. You have to read Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone, a music magazine, or blogs like Mandelman on, Naked Capitalism, Credit Writedowns, ZeroHedge, ProPublica, or Amped, to cite a few.

TV show host Dylan Ratigan has been a lonely voice on MSNBC while academics like former bank regulator William Black and former Bank economist Michael Hudson speak out frequently on the criminal environment that Wall Street has wrought in alternative outlets.

Journalists like Robert Scheer, Greg Palast and Chris Hedges write regularly on issues that from time to time make it into the columns of New York writers like Paul Krugman, Getrchen Morgensen, Frank Norris and James Stewart. All these opinion pieces rarely lead to follow-ups in the news section.

Overseas, the Telegraph in London has made this a beat as has Max Keiser’s programmes on RT and Press TV. There have been some Al Jazeera docs, but business channels like CNBC prefer to focus on greed by colourful bad guys, not the more boring but ultimately criminal practices by banks.

Most of our media is mesmerised by the antics of individuals, not the impact of institutions, Most media outlets are parochial, unwilling to see the economy as globalised force, with the US playing a major role.

‘Too big to question’

Just as many outlets did not warn us about the coming market meltdown, most are not warning us today about what will happen if the depression we are already sinking into deepens.

The military is making contingency plans as things get worse; reports the Telegraph, “The military planning work has come to light after The Daily Telegraph disclosed last month that British embassies in the eurozone have been told to prepare emergency plans for the demise of the euro and the possible civil disorder that could follow.”

This could be one reason for the passage of the new NDAA defence authorisation bill that provides for rounding up dissidents branded as terrorists while suspending legal protections.

Most are not warning us today about what will happen if the depression we are already sinking into deepens.

– Danny Schechter

Already, a European economic think-tank called LEAP, with a history of credible projections, warns soberly, “Already insolvent (the US) will become ungovernable bringing about, for Americans and those who depend on the United States, violent and destructive economic, financial, monetary, geopolitical and social shocks.”

Does anyone really believe that our political leaders in both parties know what to do? Along with the Fed, they have been pumping trillions into the economy to mostly no avail. The promised recovery has yet to show its head.

The trends forecaster, Gerard Calente, is more despairing than most prognosticators, even predicting the possibility of a revolution.

He saves his fiercest words for “media morons” who avoid the stories that matter most, noting:

“And the bigger they got, the more untouchable they became. TV Money Honeys, fast-talking finance finaglers, Nightly News anchors, Sunday Morning Beltway Blowhards, and Talk Show Tough Guys genuflected, scraped, kissed up and bowed down before those magnificent men in their money machines.

When these kings, queens and aristocrats of 21st-century commerce spoke, their ex cathedra judgments went unquestioned. Thus, when they warned that if the “too big to fail” were allowed to fail the world financial system would collapse, their conclusions went unchallenged. No evidence was provided, no proof was needed, and no explanation was tendered. Harvard, Princeton, Yale … the White Shoe Boyz had spoken. They who invented the “too big to fail” were “too big to question.”

What matters most is covered least

So here we are once again at year’s end debating our picks for the most important news stories of the year, and peering into a future that most of us don’t want to see, as a narrow view stifles our politics and vision becomes a word reserved for eyeglass ads.

What matters most is covered least. The financial industry is likely to expose itself and bring itself down before the media does the job it should be doing this by demanding reform consistently.

I may have been dissecting news too long because I think I may have written many of these words before. In the year ahead, I am going to try to keep writing about the resource rich – even as I become more resource “challenged” while talking about what’s not in the news but should be.

I will be doing my bit by reviving a Media Channel as with our colleagues at and invite readers to remember and revitalise the words of my radio colleague, San Francisco’s, “Scoop” Nisker, who ended his newscasts with these words:

“If you don’t like the news, go out and make some of your own.”

Filmmaker and News Dissector Danny Schechter blogs for His latest book is Occupy: Dissecting Occupy Wall Street. For information and to share your comments, write:

Follow him on Twitter: @DISSECTOREVENTS

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.