ProPublica was launched to much fuss and applause as a new institutional backer of investigative journalism of the sort getting scarcer at major news outlets. Now it's placed a new article in the L.A. Times showcasing complaints by California state treasurer Bill Lockyer against Goldman Sachs over the firm's handling of the state's municipal debt. How bad is the article? Ask Felix Salmon ("garbage.... This isn't responsible impartial journalism, it's a gratuitous hatchet-job") or Joe Weisenthal, who comes down harder on Lockyer:
Here's what's going on. If you read the article, there's an attempt to somehow tie Goldman to the state's budgetary woes, by claiming Goldman helped push interest rates too high. Sound familiar? It should. The last time California faced a financial crisis, they set Enron up to be the scapegoat, claiming budget-crippling energy market manipulation. That was a lie: the state was hurt by the collapse of the .com bust and the attendent tax evaporation. At the time, it was Bill Lockyer leading the charge, though he was the state's AG then. Now he's Treasurer and raring to do the same thing.
More: Felix Salmon has now posted more on California's ProPublica-enabled "bullying tactics". ProPublica's philanthropic backing, incidentally, comes largely from California mortgage moguls/liberal activists Herb and Marion Sandler, and Herb Sandler is ProPublica's chairman.