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When Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., announced his intention not to seek re-election after a 32-year career, not one of the nightly news broadcast network anchors found time or space to mention either Frank’s central role in the housing meltdown or his congressional reprimand. Not one. Similarly, an Associated Press article headlined, “Democratic Rep. Barney Frank Announces Retirement,” mentioned the reprimand, but nada on Frank and the housing collapse.
ABC called him “one of the most familiar, powerful and colorful characters on Capitol Hill.” NBC said, “Among his legacies — besides his legendary sharp tongue — he was the first member of Congress to publicly acknowledge he was gay, back in 1987.” In a nearly 30-paragraph press release — uh, news article — headlined, “Barney Frank, a Top Liberal, Won’t Seek Re-election,” The New York Times sanitized, purged and whitewashed.
The “all the news that’s fit to print” newspaper, America’s most influential, left out a few things.
Frank relentlessly defended Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the “government sponsored entities” at the center of the housing meltdown. National Review editorialized: “It is as a champion of a different kind of pay-for-play operation, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, that the congressman did the most damage to the country.” Economist Thomas Sowell wrote last year, “No one contributed more to the policies behind the housing boom and bust, which led to the economic disaster we are now in, than Congressman Barney Frank.”
Sowell explains: “His powerful position on the House of Representatives’ Committee on Financial Services gave him leverage to force through legislation and policies which pressured banks and other lenders to grant mortgage loans to people who would not qualify under the standards which had long prevailed. … With the federal regulators leaning on banks to make more loans to people who did not meet traditional qualifications — the ‘underserved population’ in political Newspeak — and quotas being given to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to buy more of these riskier mortgages from the original lenders, critics pointed out the dangers in these pressures to meet arbitrary home ownership goals. But Barney Frank counter-attacked these critics.”
Whom did Frank blame when the housing meltdown — and Freddie and Fannie’s role in it — became obvious even to Frank? “Right-wing Republicans,” he said.
The Big Three nightly news anchors and the Times also managed to avoid any mention of Frank’s congressional reprimand for fixing the parking tickets of a male prostitute.
“Representative Frank,” writes National Review, “was reprimanded by the House for making misleading statements to a Virginia prosecutor on behalf of the prostitute — whom the congressman eventually put on his own payroll — and for having fixed dozens of parking tickets on this behalf.” Frank denied knowing that his lover, a convicted drug dealer, was running a prostitution business out of the congressman’s house.
The boyfriend, however, insisted that Frank knew about it.
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