Senator Chris Dodd has taken a lot of heat over the last year plus about loans he received from Countrywide. After taking a lot of fire from the right over them, the Senate Ethics Committee investigated and cleared Dodd of any wrong doing. Dodd had the circumstances of the loan audited and has released hundreds of pages of documents. All point to the same thing: Dodd received no special treatment from Countrywide and there was absolutely no impropriety in connection to these loans.
Unfortunately Michael Moore doesn’t seem to follow the news and, as a result, has apparently attacked Dodd for the loans in his new documentary, “Capitalism: A Love Story.” He’s even gone so far as to claim having “exclusive” information from an insider, Robert Feinberg, who fingers Dodd. Sadly, Moore didn’t do his homework and the guy who he touts as providing real dirt on Dodd’s loans has already been debunked by David Fiderer of Huffington Post (here and here).
CTBlogger at My Left Nutmeg has a pretty comprehensive roundup of how, in the end, the charges against Dodd were assessed by the CT press and Senate Ethics Committee. He points out:
Now, given the fact that movies take a long time to shoot, edit, print, and distribute, it could make sense to assume that Moore didn’t have access to this:
The Senator and his wife, Jackie Clegg Dodd, negotiated interest rates and terms widely available in the marketplace when they refinanced the two homes. That’s not special treatment.– Hartford Courant Editorial, July 31, 2009
… [T]he ethics panel acknowledged that Mr. Dodd didn’t ask for preferential treatment or even get the best deal Countrywide had to offer.
The committee’s finding … should restore constituents’ faith as well. – Hartford Courant Editorial, August 9, 2009
… [A]fter 18,000 pages of documents and a yearlong investigation, the Ethics committee is saying these “sweetheart” loans weren’t even all that sweet. – Politico, August 7, 2009
I could go on and on but I think you get the point.
I don’t know why Moore bought the bunk Feinberg is selling, but it’s a shame that he did. I like Moore’s work and think he’s been an important advocate for liberal issues over the last decade. But this is pretty absurd stuff, which has the potential of undercutting Dodd’s support among liberals in Connecticut and costing Democrats a Senate seat. I have no clue how costing Dodd his job for something that he has been cleared of any impropriety of is helpful to Michael Moore’s goals. My guess is it isn’t at all and Moore just doesn’t understand the situation he’s wading into nor does he know how weak his sourcing is.
It’s just a shame that after Dodd was finally cleared by the Senate, the CT press, and the DC press, Moore has come out a movie that repeats charges that are factually untrue and politically damaging to one of the Senate’s best legislators. I haven’t seen Moore’s film yet and this aspect of it makes me much less likely to, but I have to imagine that some of Moore’s complaints against capitalism in the US are the sorts of things addressed by Dodd’s recent legislation on and regulation of credit card companies, student loans, debit card overdraft fees, and housing. That is, Moore’s charges are quixotic and counterproductive and, from what I can tell, he owes both Senator Chris Dodd and the viewers of his film an apology and a correction.