We often find it rather irksome that publications like the Buffalo News are treated as fair and balanced arbiters of what is and is not news. And so it was with yesterday’s edition of the News, where someone named Emma Sapong filed a story that was long on touching anecdote and short on investigative journalism.
It seems that buying a house is really tough! And expensive!! At least, that was the main thrust of Emma’s “news” story. But buried within her article was a tale about an officer with the Buffalo Police Department having to give up his subsidized low-income apartment and actually buy a house. (We really, really want to write a post asking just how a Buffalo PD officer qualifies for rent-subsidized housing, but that’s not our thrust today, gang…sorry!)
What really got our attention was that this fine example of serving and protecting, Roscoe Henderson III, had managed to score a 1% interest loan to buy a house. We did some checking, and it turns out that the current mortgage rate is around 4.59% on a 30-year fixed loan, so we wondered just what kind of voodoo spells Henderson was casting.
Well, Sapong’s article told us that Henderson “bought his house through the Neighborhood Assistance Corp. of America, the grass-roots nonprofit mortgage broker that helps low-and moderate-income workers become homeowners. The assistance Henderson received resulted in some serious savings, such as no down payment, zero closing costs and a 1 percent interest rate.”
The Neighborhood Assistance Corp. of America? Who are these wonderful people? Do they live at the North Pole and parade around in red suits?
Well, er, no. Although we do suspect they’re fond of the color red. It turns out that NACA is an ACORN clone. And they’re not really nice people. In fact, this Wall Street Journal article paints a very different picture of NACA than Emma Sapong and the Buffalo News:
Bruce Marks's nonprofit organization, Neighborhood Assistance Corp. of America, has emerged as one of the loudest scourges of the banking industry in the post-bubble economy. It salts its Web site with photos of executives it accuses of standing in the way of helping homeowners -- emblazoning "Predator" across their photos, picturing their homes and sometimes including home phone numbers. In February, NACA, as it's called, protested at the home of a mortgage investor by scattering furniture on his lawn, to give him a taste of what it feels like to be evicted.
In the 1990s, Mr. Marks leaked details of a banker's divorce to the press and organized a protest at the school of another banker's child. He says he would use such tactics again. "We have to terrorize these bankers," Mr. Marks says.
Frankly, we don’t expect much from the Buffalo News these days. Editor Margaret Sullivan has proven herself, repeatedly, to be little more than a left-wing propagandist who has done much to destroy the credibility of a once-great newspaper, and a mediocre “reporter” like Sapong belongs at a mediocre paper like the News. But we don’t think it’s all that much to ask Sullivan to teach Sapong how to use Google. Maybe then her articles would have some pretense of objectivity, instead of reading like vapid cheerleading for domestic terrorists.
It’s called journalism, Emma. Give it a try sometime.