By Simon Johnson
In Washington, before lobbyists try hard to destroy something, they first spread a great deal of disinformation about it. Thus the “End Users’ Coalition” (a front for the derivatives dealers) promotes its lobbying points as fake research. And “fiscal conservatives” attempt to distract from the fact that our largest banks brought us to the brink of budget disaster – this is their preparation for demolishing all vestiges of financial reform.
On a closely related front, there is now a concerted effort to undermine the newly formed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), mostly by spreading disinformation about its supposed lack of accountability.
This disinformation approach contains the standard elements of exaggeration, misdirection, and distraction (all quotes are via Fred Barnes):
- Slogans: “If you like TSA at the airport, you’ll love these guys” (Congressman Spencer Bachus).
- This is a major step towards dictatorship. “Its powers are very, very vast…. Who in the world would consider it appropriate to have one person appointed—one person!—to set the rules for the entire financial industry. It’s a tremendous overreach. It’s incredible to think about” (Senator Bob Corker)
- And it would be a one-person dictatorship. “”It would be dangerous to the American economy if Elizabeth Warren were put in that job by a recess appointment, thwarting the will of Congress…. [She would be] accountable to no one” (Senator Richard Shelby)
Naturally, none of this is remotely close to the facts – an important principle of disinformation is that it should create an alternative reality which, through repetition by apparently disparate and supposedly credible people, becomes regarded as containing an element of truth. Continue reading