Appearing on Hannity to promote his latest book, America for Sale, author Jerome Corsi purported to explain the causes of the mortgage bubble by advancing a litany of falsehoods and misinformation: repeating the myth that the Community Reinvestment Act was responsible for the bubble; claiming that President Obama was tied to the housing bubble through conservative bogeyman ACORN; and falsely suggesting that Obama lowered interest rates to "zero or close to zero." Corsi has previously written falsehood-laden books about Obama and Sen. John Kerry, has claimed that Obama posted online a "false, fake birth certificate," and has a history of controversial comments about Islam, Catholicism, progressives, and other matters.
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Corsi repeats discredited myth that CRA was responsible for mortgage bubble
Corsi: "[T]here was an attempt to use the Community Redevelopment [sic] Act as a way to extort banks into giving loans to people who didn't deserve them." During the October 13 edition of his Fox News show, Sean Hannity claimed: "I've often talked about the Community Reinvestment Act of Jimmy Carter, doubled down by Bill Clinton, about [former Fannie Mae executives Franklin] Raines and [Jim] Johnson and how much money they made. You have all that information in there. But it is a deeper story than that." Corsi responded: "Much, because there was fraud. There was an attempt here to use the Community Redevelopment [sic] Act as a way to extort banks into giving loans to people who didn't deserve them -- home loans to people who couldn't afford them."
Claim that Community Reinvestment Act caused mortgage bubble is a myth. Hannity has previously pushed the myth that "[t]he federal government and the Democrats ... forced these banks, through the Community Reinvestment Act, to make these risky loans." But as Media Matters for America has noted, the suggestion that the financial crisis was caused by banks lending irresponsibly to comply with CRA is widely discredited. Indeed, actions taken by banks to expand lending to underserved communities -- the focus of CRA -- did not cause the financial crisis, according to Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, who stated in a November 25, 2008, letter: "Our own experience with CRA over more than 30 years and recent analysis of available data, including data on subprime loan performance, runs counter to the charge that CRA was at the root of, or otherwise contributed in any substantive way to, the current mortgage difficulties."
Corsi ties Obama to housing bubble through ACORN bogeyman
Corsi claims extortion of banks was "carried through ACORN, that Barack Obama was a lawyer for." Discussing the supposed impact of the Community Reinvestment Act, Corsi claimed "[T]his was a strong Democratic initiative that carried through ACORN. In fact, Barack Obama was a lawyer for ACORN, helping ACORN extort banks in the subprime area." [Hannity, 10/13/09]
Obama represented ACORN as an attorney in private practice in one case not related to housing in which the Justice Department was on the same side. As an attorney in private practice, Obama was part of a team representing ACORN in seeking to force the state of Illinois to implement the National Voter Law of 1993, the federal "motor voter" registration law. The LexisNexis version of the June 5, 1995, decision by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the case Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), et al., v. [then-Illinois Gov.] James R. Edgar et al., affirmed with modifications the lower court's judgment in favor of the plaintiff-appellees including ACORN, the United States (represented by the Justice Department), the League of Women Voters of Illinois, and the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). The 7th Circuit's decision identifies Obama as one of the attorneys representing ACORN.
Corsi falsely suggests that Obama lowered interest rates to "zero or close to zero"
Corsi: 1 percent interest rates weren't "good enough for the Obama administration. Now we have interest rates at zero or close to zero." Discussing the mortgage bubble, Corsi stated that interest rates were kept "artificially low -- 2003, 2004 at 1 percent. And by the way, that's not even good enough for the Obama administration. Now we have interest rates at zero or close to zero. So we're bubbling up again." [Hannity, 10/13/09]
Interest rates were lowered to zero by Fed during Bush administration. Contrary to Corsi's suggestion, the Federal Reserve Bank -- an independent institution -- lowered the federal funds rate to 0.00 -- 0.25 and the discount rate to .50 on December 16, 2008, when President Bush was in office. It has not changed interest rates since then.
Economics Nobelist Krugman has argued that Fed should not raise interest rates. In his October 11 New York Times column, Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman stated, "In recent weeks there have been a number of statements from Fed officials, mainly but not only presidents of regional Federal Reserve banks, calling for an early return to tighter money, including higher interest rates." He later added: "What's even more extraordinary, however, is the idea that raising rates would make sense any time soon. After all, the unemployment rate is a horrifying 9.8 percent and still rising, while inflation is running well below the Fed's long-term target. This suggests that the Fed should be in no hurry to tighten -- in fact, standard policy rules of thumb suggest that interest rates should be left on hold for the next two years or more, or until the unemployment rate has fallen to around 7 percent."
Corsi falsely suggests Dodd has not been investigated
After Hannity says there's "corruption," Corsi claims Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) "should be right now investigated" for mortgage. During the interview, Hannity said to Corsi: "You know what -- but there's also corruption," and in response, Corsi pointed to "Senator Dodd, who utilized friendships with very extreme subprime lenders to get" a Countrywide mortgage. Subsequently, Hannity asked, "[I]f this was a private corporation, would they be in jail?" Corsi responded: "They should be right now investigated. Again, these private deals that Senator Dodd and the others had, to their benefit, while the economy tanked, and there's millions of people now facing losing their homes. Senator Dodd and the other Democrats should be held accountable for this."
Senate ethics committee investigated Dodd's mortgage, and Democrats and Republicans unanimously dismissed ethics complaint. Contrary to Corsi's false suggestion that Dodd has not been investigated, the Senate ethics committee investigated whether Dodd obtained mortgages from Countrywide Financial that "violated the Senate Gifts Rule" or violated the rule prohibiting "Senators from using their official position for personal gain." The committee stated in a letter to Dodd signed by the three committee Democrats and the three committee Republicans that the committee found "no substantial credible evidence as required by Committee rules that your Countrywide mortgage violated Senate ethics rules."
Corsi has repeatedly promoted birther theories
Corsi has claimed that Obama posted online a "false, fake birth certificate." In an August 2008 Fox & Friends appearance, Corsi claimed that the Obama campaign "has a false, fake birth certificate posted on their website. ... The original birth certificate of Obama has never been released, and the campaign refuses to release it." Co-host Steve Doocy asked, "Well, couldn't it just be a state of Hawaii-produced duplicate?" Corsi replied: "No, it's a -- there's been good analysis of it on the Internet, and it's been shown to have watermarks from Photoshop. It's a fake document that's on the website right now." Since then, Corsi has promoted birther theories on WorldNetDaily and elsewhere.
Corsi's previous books attacking Dems have been falsehood-laden, widely criticized
Corsi's 2008 book, The Obama Nation, contained numerous falsehoods, some of which Corsi admitted to. Media Matters documented numerous falsehoods in The Obama Nation, Corsi's 2008 book attacking Obama. Those falsehoods include assertions about Obama's family, Obama's books, Obama's childhood acquaintance, drug use, and Obama's positions on policy issues. Corsi also pushed numerous falsehoods in media appearances promoting The Obama Nation.
In 2004, Corsi co-wrote the falsehood-laden Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry. Media Matters has also documented that Corsi's 2004 book, Unfit for Command, contains false and baseless attacks against Kerry's military service.
Corsi has history of controversial comments. Media Matters has documented Corsi's history of controversial comments including:
- Corsi on Islam: "a worthless, dangerous Satanic religion"
- Corsi on Catholicism: "Boy buggering in both Islam and Catholicism is okay with the Pope as long as it isn't reported by the liberal press"
- Corsi on Muslims: "RAGHEADS are Boy-Bumpers as clearly as they are Women-Haters -- it all goes together"
- Corsi on "John F*ing Commie Kerry": "After he married TerRAHsa, didn't John Kerry begin practicing Judiasm [sic]? He also has paternal grandparents that were Jewish. What religion is John Kerry?"
- Corsi on Senator "FAT HOG" Clinton: "Anybody ask why HELLary couldn't keep BJ Bill satisfied? Not lesbo or anything, is she?"
Corsi has appeared on "pro-White" radio. Corsi appeared on the July 20, 2008, edition of The Political Cesspool -- during which he promoted The Obama Nation and criticized Obama. His appearance was streamed "Live" on the self-described "White Nationalist" and "White Pride" website Stormfront.org. Additionally, at several points during the July 20, 2008, broadcast prior to Corsi's appearance, host James Edwards and co-host Winston Smith expounded on their views on race. Edwards claimed that "most Jews ... regard Jews and whites as two different races," and Smith repeatedly referred to Obama as a "mulatto." According to its "Statement of Principles," The Political Cesspool Radio Program "represent[s] a philosophy that is pro-White." Corsi was also reportedly scheduled to appear on the August 17, 2008, edition of The Political Cesspool Program. However, according to a post on Edwards' blog, "Corsi, who had confirmed his appearance on today's Political Cesspool broadcast even after the recent media firestorm erupted, had his publicist send us an email canceling his appearance, which we received only a few minutes before his segment was scheduled to start. This is the only information we received, in the subject line: we need to cancel for tonight travel plans have changed."
From the October 14 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
HANNITY: In the past, his books have shined the spotlight on the controversial records of presidential candidates like Senators John Kerry and Barack Obama, and now Dr. Jerome Corsi's brand new book, America for Sale: Fighting the New World Order, Surviving a Global Depression, and Preserving USA Sovereignty, is calling on you the taxpayer to stand up and fight back against the expansion of big government.
Joining me now for an exclusive interview is the author himself, Dr. Jerome Corsi. Dr. Corsi, good to see you.
CORSI: Sean, great to be back with you.
HANNITY: As I read this, I said, all right, where is -- where is the liberal bloggers going to attack from --
HANNITY: -- and I think I found the area.
CORSI: I think you have, too. We agree, it's -- I'm showing that Barack Obama is a globalist, and the attack on American sovereignty -- the giving away of the United States -- has never been greater than under Barack Obama.
HANNITY: It's controversial, but there's so many areas where I find agreement. There's so much information here. I learned -- for example, I've often talked about the Community Reinvestment Act --
HANNITY: -- of Jimmy Carter, doubled down by Bill Clinton, about Raines and Johnson and how much money they made. You have all that information in there.
HANNITY: But it is a deeper story than that.
CORSI: Much, because there was fraud. There was an attempt here to use the Community Redevelopment [sic] Act as a way to extort banks into giving loans to people who didn't deserve them -- home loans to people who couldn't afford them.
CORSI: And this was a strong Democratic initiative that carried through ACORN. In fact, Barack Obama was a lawyer for ACORN, helping ACORN extort banks in the subprime area.
HANNITY: See, I think a lot of people need to understand this -- that there is reason that we have this economic downturn.
HANNITY: Now, specifically, for example, you talk about four reasons America is for sale.
HANNITY: And I want to go through this so our audience can follow along with us. We start with the mortgage bubble.
HANNITY: The subprime crisis, Fannie and Freddie.
CORSI: And also keeping interest rates artificially low -- 2003, 2004 at 1 percent. And by the way, that's not even good enough for the Obama administration. Now we have interest rates at zero or close to zero. So we're bubbling up again. And the bubble produced this housing boom that was certain to collapse once interest rates increased as the subprime lenders couldn't afford the homes.
HANNITY: You know what -- but there's also corruption.
HANNITY: You describe --
HANNITY: -- all the friends' advisers you point out. And I didn't know this. I learned this in this book.
CORSI: The friends, including some prominent senators, like Senator Dodd, who utilized friendships with very extreme subprime lenders, to get favorable rates --
HANNITY: Countrywide mortgage.
CORSI: Countrywide mortgage.
HANNITY: Was it Johnson or -- I think it was Johnson also got --
CORSI: Johnson, yes.
HANNITY: -- a friends of Angelo deal.
HANNITY: I didn't know that, either.
CORSI: These were all friends of Angelo. And so our congressmen, a lot of the Democrats, had themselves lined up.
HANNITY: But they -- but they made millions.
HANNITY: And if this was a private corporation, would they be in jail?
CORSI: They should be right now investigated. Again, these private deals that Senator Dodd and the others had, to their benefit, while the economy tanked, and there's millions of people now facing losing their homes. Senator Dodd and the other Democrats should be held accountable for this.