We chronicled the right-wing campaign to destroy ACORN – which promoted voting rights and economic justice for low-income Americans -- as well as the crazy right-wing editorials in the San Francisco Examiner. And this week, we saw them join forces to go after another effective progressive organization: the Berkeley-based Greenlining Institute.
The Examiner newspapers here and in Washington D.C. today concluded a five-part series of industry-sponsored opinion pieces masquerading as journalism attacking Greenlining, ACORN, and the finally 1977 Community Reinvestment Act, claiming that their encouragement of banks to lend money in poor areas amounts to a criminal shakedown of corporations and one that caused the financial crisis.
The series was produced by a partnership that included San Francisco-based Pacific Research Institute (a right-wing think tank funded by big corporations and conservative foundations), its CalWatchdog propaganda project, and the Examiner, which is owned and operated by Denver-based billionaire businessman Philip Anschutz, whose foundation also helps fund PRI.
While it might be tempting to dismiss such a blatant effort by corporate-funded patsies to discredit an effective progressive foe, using the pages of marginalized newspaper that denies global warming. But considering what these same reactionary forces did to ACORN using evidence that was just as flimsy, it’s important that the people push back.
Greenlining Institute Executive Director Orson Aguilar raised that same concern when we contacted him: "This is pretty weak journalism, but the underlying issue is serious. They're using us to attack the Community Reinvestment Act and the whole idea that huge Wall Street financial institutions have some responsibility to the communities they serve. We may be the scapegoat du jour, but the real aim is to blame low-income communities for a financial crisis that was caused by inadequate regulation and greed. We have no intention of backing down."
I couldn’t have said it better myself.