Dutifully doing its part to find any excuse to expand government regulation, NBC News on Monday and Tuesday immediately touted Democratic efforts to exploit a $2 billion loss of private money for banker JPMorgan Chase to push for more government intervention in the banking industry.
On Monday's NBC Nightly News, correspondent Anne Thompson used the news to pump up struggling Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren: "[She] worked to create a consumer watchdog group to oversee the banks after the 2008 crisis. She says what happened at JPMorgan shows there's still not enough oversight of the big banks." Thompson failed to mention Warren has been mired in a scandal surrounding her dubious claims of having Native American ancestry.
On Tuesday's NBC Today, Thompson again highlighted Warren's call for more regulation and also worked in President Obama's attempt to capitalize on the situation: "[He] says the loss will be investigated....Mr. Obama on an episode of The View, to be aired today, argues the loss makes the case for Wall Street reform."
While NBC transformed coverage of the business story into campaign ads for Warren and Obama, Today co-host Ann Curry was busy using it as ammunition against Mitt Romney: "President Obama has spoken out about the scandal, saying it proves we need tighter regulation on Wall Street. But Mitt Romney, an opponent of tighter regulation, has so far been mum on the story."
In a later interview with senior Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom, Curry began by hitting him from the left on the JPMorgan losses: "...the President said this is why they passed Wall Street reform. What is Mitt Romney's reaction to that, given his position that these reforms should be repealed?"
Fehrnstrom pushed back against the big government push: "...we don't want to punish companies, Ann, for taking risks. There were no – there was no taxpayer money at, at issue here. These losses went to investors in the company, which is how it works in a market."
Curry insisted: "But considering how vulnerable our economy is to mistakes on Wall Street, just what would a President Obama – President Romney do to prevent the kind of risk taking that could lead to a loss like this?"
Here is a full transcript of Thompson's May 15 Today report:
7:01AM ET TEASE:
MATT LAUER: JPMorgan Chase's annual shareholders meeting is being held today in Tampa, Florida. What do you think the mood is going to be like in that room as the CEO, Jamie Dimon, faces investors?
CURRY: That's a pretty good question. He's already been under fire for the complex and risky strategies that led to that $2 billion loss. Well, now, President Obama has spoken out about the scandal, saying it proves we need tighter regulation on Wall Street. But Mitt Romney, an opponent of tighter regulation, has so far been mum on the story. So we're going to talk to a senior adviser to Romney's campaign coming up straight ahead.
7:02AM ET SEGMENT:
LAUER: We begin, though, on a Tuesday morning with the ongoing fallout over that $2 billion trading loss at JPMorgan Chase, as the firm holds its annual meeting today. NBC's Anne Thompson has the latest on this. Anne, good morning.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: $2 Billion Banking Blunder; Top Woman Loses Her Job At JP Morgan]
ANNE THOMPSON: Good morning, Matt. Today those shareholders will take a non-binding vote on the compensation packages for two of the principles involved in this drama. $23.1 million for chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon, $15.5 million for Ina Drew, the first to lose her job in this crisis. JPMorgan Chase's $2 billion loss claims one of Wall Street's most powerful women, Ina drew. The 55-year-old chief investment officer ran the group that made the trades causing the loss. In announcing her retirement, chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon called Drew a "great partner" and said the loss should not overshadow "Ina's vast contributions" in a long career.
SUE HERERA [CNBC]: We have a lot of women on Wall Street working in lesser positions trying to work their way up. But Ina Drew had, had done it. And had been successful at it for 30 years.
THOMPSON: President Obama says the loss will be investigated, calling JPMorgan, "one of the best-managed banks," and Dimon, "one of the smartest bankers." Mr. Obama on an episode of The View, to be aired today, argues the loss makes the case for Wall Street reform.
BARACK OBAMA: You could have a bank that isn't as strong, isn't as profitable, making those same bets, and we might have had to step in.
THOMPSON: Other critics are more scathing.
ELIZABETH WARREN: For me this is about accountability.
THOMPSON: Elizabeth Warren, the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts, wants Dimon to step down from the board of the New York Federal Reserve Bank.
WARREN: No one should be able to steal your purse on main street or your pension on Wall Street.
THOMPSON: Warren helped create a consumer watchdog group to oversee banks after the financial crisis of 2008. She says there is still not enough oversight of big banks.
WARREN: We all have to wonder, what's happening at the other large financial institutions? They are taking on more and more risk and that's bad for all of us.
THOMPSON: JPMorgan is conducting its own investigation into the trades that went bad. And others are expected to be shown the door. Matt.
LAUER: Alright, Anne Thompson of NBC News on this story for us. Anne, thank you very much.
Here is a portion of Curry's May 15 interview with Fehrnstrom:
ANN CURRY: Well, Eric Fehrnstrom is a senior adviser to the Mitt Romney campaign. Good morning, Eric. It's nice to see you.
ERIC FEHRNSTROM: Thank you, Ann.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Romney's "Backbone"; Key Adviser Responds to Attacks on Romney Campaign]
CURRY: First let me ask you about this $2 billion loss by – trading loss by JPMorgan. As we just heard, the President said this is why they passed Wall Street reform. What is Mitt Romney's reaction to that, given his position that these reforms should be repealed?
FEHRNSTROM: Well, JPMorgan is a public company, with public shareholders, and a board of directors, and the leadership of that company will be held accountable for this, for this trading loss. But we don't want to punish companies, Ann, for taking risks. There were no – there was no taxpayer money at, at issue here. These losses went to investors in the company, which is how it works in a market.
CURRY: But considering how vulnerable our economy is to mistakes on Wall Street, just what would a President Obama – President Romney do to prevent the kind of risk taking that could lead to a loss like this?
FEHRNSTROM: Well, of course, we need regulation. Mitt Romney is not advocating that there be no regulation. But our regulation should be effective, it should be streamlined. It should not be cumbersome, and it should not act as a wet blanket, or a damper on the economy. Look, there will be companies that take risks. Not every risk turns out to – to work for the investors in the company. In a case like the one that – before us now with JP Morgan, there is accountability. People will be held to account for the losses that occurred. There was no taxpayer money at risk. All of the losses went to investors, which is how it works in a, in a public market.