The campaign to marginalize and destroy the growing 99 Percent Movement is in full swing, with many in the media attempting to smear the people participating in the “occupation” protests across the country. However, several of the so-called journalists deriding, and in some cases sabotaging the movement, have paychecks thanks to a billionaire whose business practices have been scorned as among the worst of the financial elite.
As the New York Times has documented, Paul Singer, a Republican activist and hedge fund manager worth over $900 million, has emerged as one of the most important power brokers within the GOP. Now, it appears that the reporters financed by Singer are at the forefront of efforts to tarnish the reputation of 99 Percent Movement demonstrators:
Journalist Who Admitted To Infiltrating Protests To ‘Mock And Undermine’ The Movement Works For A Singer-Supported Right-Wing Magazine. In a column posted last night, reporter Patrick Howley admitted that he had surreptitiously joined an anti-war spin-off group from the OccupyDC protests that planned to demonstrate at a military drone exhibit at the Smithsonian’s Air and Space museum. Howley wrote that he “infiltrated” the action and sprinted into the police along with a few protesters in order to “mock and undermine” the movement. Singer is a major donor to the Spectator, a right-wing magazine known for its role in the “Arkansas Project,” a well-funded effort to invent stories with the goal of eventually impeaching President Clinton.
Journalist Pushing To Discredit Occupy Wall Street Is Funded By Singer’s Think Tank. Josh Barro, a journalist who has attacked the 99 Percent Movement in the National Review and the New York Daily News, draws a salary from the Wriston Fellowship at the Manhattan Institute, a big business advocacy think tank in New York. Barro makes the same tired arguments, that anti-Wall Street protesters are too inarticulate and “extreme” to be taken seriously. Singer is the chairman of the Manhattan Institute, and even oversees the Wriston annual fundraiser.
As Singer-funded journalists make their best effort to diminish the Occupy Wall Street protesters as confused idiots unable to articulate a clear goal, it so happens that these journalists are funded by a man who epitomizes the crony capitalist behavior of the greedy one percent.
Singer, manager of a $17 billion hedge fund, earned the moniker “vulture capitalist” for buying the debt of Third World countries for pennies on the dollar, then using his political and legal connections to extract massive judgements to force collection — even from nations suffering from starvation and violent conflicts. Singer and his partners have used such tactics in Panama, Ecuador, Poland, Cote d’Ivoire, Turkmenistan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. In addition to squeezing impoverished countries with sovereign debt schemes, Singer speculates in the oil markets, a practice which can lead to gasoline price hikes here in the United States. The revelation that Singer engages in oil speculation, and also funds Republican lawmakers opposed to oil speculation regulations, was exposed by ThinkProgress using leaked government documents.
Singer’s political philanthropy is tied to his business interests. As Greg Palast has reported, Singer purchased near-bankrupt asbestos companies before his allies in Congress changed an asbestoas-liability law to make his investment incredibly profitable (at the expense, critics allege, of sickened workers). More recently, Singer has forged close financial ties to Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ), a little-known lawmaker at the forefront of efforts to repeal Dodd-Frank financial regulations on hedge funds like Elliott Associates, Singer’s firm.
The rise of Singer’s political profile can be traced to his work as a top donor to pro-Bush character-assasination groups like the “Swift Boat Veterans.” In recent years, he has quietly worked with the right-wing billionaire industrialist Koch brothers and Republican strategist Karl Rove to finance a fleet of anti-Obama organizations, including the shady attack ad nonprofit, “Crossroads GPS.” Singer also led a controversial group of Republican moneymen in a bid to recruit Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) into the presidential race, but shifted to endorsing Mitt Romney. Singer and Romney are already close; Singer’s hedge fund actually manages at least $1 million of the former governor’s personal investments.
Singer’s influence even extends to the Supreme Court. As ThinkProgress reported, Singer hosted Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito to speak at his $5,000-$25,000 a plate dinners.