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General News    H2'ed 6/15/10

ME AND CNN: Atlantans Mobilize To Stop Foreclosures

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Message Danny Schechter

MEMORIES AND MISERY IN CNN LAND WHILE HOMEOWNERSSEEK MORTGAGE JUSTICE AND FORECLOSURES MOUNT

By Danny Schechter,Author of The Crime of Our Time

Atlanta: Somehow, I can't escape CNN. Last Saturday I joined Ted Turner, Wolf Blitzer and more than 300 current and former CNN employees at a celebration of the network's 30th anniversary at the National Press Club in Washington. I was there as one of the "CNN Originals," the many staffers who helped originate what was mocked as the Chicken Noodle Network in Atlanta back in June l980.

There was pride and sense of achievement in the room by those who pioneered 24 Hour Cable News on small budgets but with lots of heart, coffee and sleepless nights. Being there was often thrilling and part of my personal learning curve on how big media works, a story I tell in my book The More You Watch The Less You Know. It was an unforgettable time, and even though I soon moved on to ABC, I was pleased, even honored, to be part of it.

As fate would have it, a day after that CNN celebration, I was back in Atlanta at CNN Center, actually, across the street, at the Georgia World Congress Center where another news-making network was holding forth.

Drawing tens of thousands of people trying to save their homes, the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA) was holding its 19th SAVE THE DREAM event, this time in cooperation with the City of Atlanta.

Fox in Atlanta called it "hugely successful." CBS reported what I saw up close and personal:

"More than 25,000people have asked for help. NACA said so far it's their biggest event. They said people were coming in from all over the country.

Judy Richmond from Lithonia has waited more than 24 hours. She said, "We knew there would be a lot of people, but we thought the process would be a lot smoother."

She said she was willing to wait for help navigating the mortgage world.

Bruce Marks, CEO of NACA, said, "When you have the opportunity to save thousands of dollars a month people are willing to do that.

He said they have a thousand volunteers working to keep things moving. He said there are also thousands working the phones.'"

In the giant hall designed for trade shows, homeowners were getting up every few minutes to report on how much they had had their payments cut. With every announcement, those who were still waiting broke into cheers. For many, those cuts represent a chance at economic survival in hard times. To them, these are real "solutions" for very stressed lives.

I found it bizarre that outside the Center, an outfit called Billboards for America was paying for a huge sign proclaiming "GOD IS NOT A SOCIALIST." Inside, the Federation of Retail Merchants was also holding a Loss Prevention Summit in response to a spike in shoplifting blamed on the lousy economy.

Unfortunately, there had been no loss prevention seminars for these homeowners who were talked into taking mortgages they couldn't afford. They were there in droves to receive free counseling and seek out mortgage modification in meetings with representatives of lenders and banks. The Bank of America, which just settled a major mortgage fraud case, was out in force reducing mortgage payments for borrowers who qualified.

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News Dissector Danny Schechter is blogger in chief at Mediachannel.Org He is the author of PLUNDER: Investigating Our Economic Calamity (Cosimo Books) available at Amazon.com. See Newsdisssector.org/store.htm.
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