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How Richard Parsons Made His Bones

The Fox in the Clippers’ Henhouse

by LEE BALLINGER

Who is Richard Parsons, the man selected to run the Los Angeles Clippers while the NBA tries to force Donald Sterling to sell the team?

Parsons is a one per center who was enjoying retirement as the owner of an Italian winery. From 2000 to 2007 Parsons was the chairman of AOL Time Warner, parent company of Warners and many other record labels, where he was known for using a corporate jet to fly around the world to record company parties. Parsons was also known for occupying one of the most expensive corner offices ever built and for firing thousands of employees, forcefully expelling them from the middle class.

Although his previous political experience was as an advisor to Republican Rudy Giuliani and to billionaire Michael Bloomberg, in 2008 Parsons was brought aboard Obama’s economic advisory team.  Obama, almost certainly with the agreement of Parsons, embraced and expanded the bank bailout.

On November 17, 2008, Citigroup fired 52,000 workers.  Four days later the Fed committed $326 billion to Citigroup. Citigroup was charged less than one per cent interest on this “loan” at the same time it was charging up to seventeen per cent interest on sub prime loans. In January 2009, just as Obama took office, Citigroup tapped the Fed for $100 billion. The next month the other shoe dropped–Richard Parsons became chairman of Citigroup. According to the Government Accounting Office, Citigroup borrowed $2.513 trillion from the Fed between 2007 and 2010. It did not use that money to hire back the 52,000 workers who were fired in 2008.

In the process of forcing Donald Sterling to sell the Clippers (which will net Sterling up to a billion dollar profit), Parsons will work to protect the interests of the networks, the advertisers, and the other owners. The players? Well, Parsons made his bones in the music industry, whose business model is based on stealing money from artists, especially but not at all limited to black artists. Parsons is black but you don’t get into the one per cent without choosing sides.

Lee Ballinger, CounterPunch’s music columnist, is co-editor of Rock and Rap Confidential author of the forthcoming book Love and War: My First Thirty Years of Writing, interviewed Honkala for CounterPunch. RRRC is now available for free by emailing Ballinger at: rockrap@aol.com.