Pulling Punches? Inside
Job Director Charles Ferguson Indicts Our "Predator Nation'
By Danny Schechter
Hail Caesar! The circle of those of us crusading for a jail-out of banksters, and not another bailout for them is widening, Our newest Commissar of Condemnation, Charles H. Ferguson, director of the film Inside Job is in the house with a new must-read book, Predator Nation, that documents and details how the financial elite and its values took over our culture and country.
When I first saw Ferguson's film, coming out two years after my Plunder: The Crime Of Our Time on a similar subject, I was a bit jealous because of all the support he attracted from Sony and Hollywood insiders who waged a successful Oscar campaign on its behalf. He had access to big money for a film on big money, after selling a software company. He e could afford high production values but also the kind of marketing that Indy filmmakers like myself dream about.
As a PhD, former business executive and government advisor, Ferguson had developed a keen skill for synthesizing information and creating a filmic "explainer," almost like a big screen power-point presentation, that recounts how we got into this financial crisis through government deregulation/complicity.
A member of the elite himself, he is well schooled in how to talk to his counterparts.
Given the devolving state of our media and the fact that these issues are mostly covered in an arcane and superficial stashed away in business sections, he was able to create a chronology-driven narrative by connecting facts that are often hidden in plain sight.
His was a top down but lucid film that treated the harmful impact of the crisis in great detail but the impact on ordinary people was almost an afterthought. There was more on government than banks; it is more intellectual than emotional with more on protests in Iceland than America.
At the same time, because it had mainstream, if still far too limited distribution, it was as an eye-opener to people who weren't paying attention or being informed even when they should have been thanks to media blindness.
At least he wasn't being totally ignored as were my film and companion book, The Crime of Our Time, on pervasive Wall Street fraud that predated his work. Not only wasn't I a "name" but since I did not have insider credentials as an academic or financial journalist, I could be ignored, by the press and even Ferguson.
Besides I only have a Masters degree and an honorary PhD, not the full card Monte that Ferguson sports. All you get are brownie points for being first. I have written about this rejection by a media elite that looked the other way for Harvard's Neiman Foundation in Journalism,
To my knowledge, Charles
never claims to be on the left. When he was at MIT, Ferguson's hero/advisor was
not the Institute's most famous professor, Noam Chomsky, who blurbed my book,
but economist Karl Kaysen, a WW2 intelligence office who later worked for JFK
on nuclear policy.
Kaysen's claim to "fame', according to Wikipedia was bizarre. He "was asked to prepare a report on how to utilize the US nuclear arsenal to preemptively destroy the Soviet Union's nuclear capacity and its ability to retaliate with nuclear weapons. " (His) report, which envisioned "only' half a million to a million Soviet casualties, caused outrage and disgust within the administration, with White House Chief Counsel Ted Sorensen calling him crazy."
Ferguson is not crazy but calculating when it comes to getting attention. To his credit, once he won the documentary Oscar, he used his fifteen seconds of global visibility to call for the prosecution of Wall Street executives, not a major theme of his movie, but a gutsy and widely quoted news making move.
"Three years after a horrific financial crisis caused by massive fraud, not a single financial executive has gone to jail, " he told the world. "And that's wrong!" (In fact, one Mortgage exec, exposed by ML-implode.com is doing time along with many smaller fish with whom the government would not reach "settlements" as they have with bigger corporate criminals.)
If Michael Moore has said what Ferguson had, he would have been dismissed as a rabble-rouser. Ferguson's business background and low-key style shielded him from ridicule. Alas, there was no extra Academy airtime to explain that over 1500 "banksters" had gone to prison years earlier after the far less serious S&L crisis or urge support for the many organizations battling fraudulent foreclosures.