WashPost's Robert Kaiser Fawns Over ‘Extraordinary’ Barney Frank and Chris Dodd

It was only two days ago that one of Charlie Rose’s guests, Politico’s Jim VandeHei, celebrated the disappearance of many outspoken Republicans from the political scene. On last night’s show, Rose invited on a pair of brash Democrats who vanished from Congress recently: former Sen. Chris Dodd and former Rep. Barney Frank.

The former lawmakers were there to discuss the 2010 financial regulatory reform law that bears their names. Rose’s third guest, Robert Kaiser of The Washington Post, recently wrote a book about the Dodd-Frank Act’s journey from conception to passage. Wouldn't you know it, Kaiser was there to sing the praises of the Democrats appearing on the program, hailing the Dodd-Frank Act as a sort of congressional triumph over partisan politics.


Kaiser's love for the two Democrats was evident from early in the interview, when he interjected to the host:
 

"But you and your audience should understand that these guys are not typical. In Congress today, politics is more important than policy. That's why we have this constant partisan warfare going on. These two are members of the old school."

 

Let’s remember that Barney Frank used the immediate aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing last month to make a political argument for increased government spending. During the heat of the presidential campaign last summer, he claimed that Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan opposed people coming together to feed poor children or put out fires. And of course, he blamed Republicans and the private sector for the 2008 housing crisis when he himself had helped to cause it by encouraging Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to buy more loans from people who were unlikely to be able to pay them back.

Frank is not at all above petty partisan politics. He routinely takes cheap shots at Republicans. In fact, later in this interview he remarked of Republicans, “Moderate used to mean they were liberal on some issues. Moderate Republican today means they’re not nuts.”

Rose tossed Kaiser a softball: “Do you believe that we would have had the legislation we achieved, or the Congress achieved, without these two guys?” Of course the answer was no, and Kaiser explained in glowing terms: “Because they're both extraordinary in their own ways. And they worked this problem with absolute determination and dedication.

I think that’s the epitome of fawning right there. But while Kaiser believes this act couldn’t have been passed without Dodd and Frank, he also confessed it “[w]ouldn't have happened without the crash. The crash created the fear and the need to act.

Oddly enough, Kaiser sounded happy about that. Is he glad that the financial crash happened? There’s a whiff of sadism there, and it seems disingenuous when you consider that Dodd and Frank helped to precipitate the crash in the first place with well-intentioned but disastrous government policy. Out of their mistakes came their opportunity to slam down new regulations onto the financial industry.

Kaiser could not be more gleeful about what the Dodd-Frank Act has wrought on big banks. He remarked to Rose:
 

"One of the things that these guys don't get credit for is... provisions of this bill have cost the big banks billions of dollars a year in profit, particularly from derivatives but other places too."
 

So Kaiser thinks Dodd and Frank should get credit for decreasing big banks’ profits by billions of dollars a year? That carries an even stronger scent of sadism, not to mention anti-capitalistic bias.

It’s not good when a journalist at a major newspaper is this enamored with a pair of liberal Democratic politicians. It raises questions about whether he is capable of impartial coverage.

Below is a transcript of the segments:

ROBERT KAISER: But you and your audience should understand that these guys [Dodd and Frank] are not typical. In Congress today, politics is more important than policy. That's why we have this constant partisan warfare going on. These two are members of the old school.

CHARLIE ROSE: I'll ask you this and I wouldn't ask him because you wrote the book. Do you believe that we would have had the legislation we achieved, or the Congress achieved, without these two guys?



KAISER: Absolutely not.

ROSE: Why is that true?

KAISER: Because they're both extraordinary in their own ways. And they worked this problem with absolute determination and dedication. They had the respect of their colleagues. It's -- one of the main theses of the book is that it wouldn't have happened without them. Wouldn't have happened without the crash. The crash created the fear and the need to act.

***

KAISER: One of the things that these guys don't get credit for is, and it's fun to see how it happened, the big banks, as Barney said earlier, were so unpopular, they really had no clout in the end.

ROSE: Is that right?

KAISER: And provisions of this bill have cost the big banks billions of dollars a year in profit, particularly from derivatives but other places too. And nobody says so. Nobody acknowledges it.

Paul Bremmer
Paul Bremmer is a Media Research Center News Analysis Division intern.