Fed Regulators Explore New Territory

07/23/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Los Angeles - IndyMac Bank's assets were seized by federal regulators on
Friday after the mortgage lender succumbed to the pressure of tighter
credit, tumbling home prices and rising foreclosures.

The lender's failure came on the same day that financial markets plunged
when investors tried to gauge whether the government would have to save
mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Chicago - Comedian Bernie Mac endured some heckling and a campaign rebuke
during a surprise appearance Friday night at a fund-raiser for Democratic
presidential candidate Barak Obama.

Toward the end of a 10-minute standup routine at the Hyatt Regency hotel in
downtown Chicago, the 50-year old star of "The Bernie Mac Show" joked about
menopause, sexual infidelity and promiscuity, and used occasional crude

The incident drew response from Obama's campaign, which criticized Mac for
his choice of material.

---Associated Press news items 7/12/08

In a development certain to send new shock waves through financial and
media markets, federal regulators have decided to follow up their seizure of
mortgage bank IndyMac by stepping in and assuming full control of Bernie

According to a person with direct knowledge of the plan, documents
authorizing the Bernie Mac takeover are now being drawn up and will be
delivered to the comedian's legal representatives in the next few days.

"We realized," said the source, "that in preparing the forms to deal
with the mortgage bank situation, it's very simple to substitute the words
'Bernie Mac' in place of 'IndyMac,' since they take up almost the exact
same amount of space. So it made sense to just fill out the paperwork for
both of them and bundle the process together."

While many experts agree that federal intervention is sometimes
necessary to stabilize the financial system, some question whether such
powers should be extended into the entertainment sector.

"The central issue is confidence," said a spokesman for the Cato
Institute. "Clearly the situation at IndyMac had undermined the confidence
of investors and required immediate corrective action. But was Bernie Mac's
activity causing a similar disruption of confidence for political or comedy
audiences? That seems like a very long stretch to me."

Officials within the Obama organization were quick to deny any
connection to the sudden expansion of federal regulatory powers. The
candidate himself issued a statement saying, "While I found some of Bernie
Mac's recent material to be inappropriate and unsuitable for use at my
campaign appearances, it is my hope that he and the federal regulators will
work together with the same level of cooperation we've seen in the banking
industry. I expect their collective effort will produce positive changes
and result in higher standards of on-stage performance that are in the best
interests of all the American people."

Much speculation is now focused on the possibility that federal actions
targeting IndyMac, Freddie Mac and Bernie Mac are being coordinated by a
central authority. One former high level employee of the FDIC who spoke on
condition of anonymity pointed the finger squarely at Federal Reserve Board
Chairman Ben Bernanke.

"People think Ben is just a monetary wonk and that's not true," said the
source. "He's also tremendously worried that modern society is in decline
and needs to be steered back to traditional values.
"This Bernie Mac thing could be a way of increasing his influence in the
TV and movie business. I suspect he'd like to see all edgy, stand-up comics
banished to seedy casinos and carnival sideshows. Bernanke told me many
times that he thinks animation is vastly superior to live-action
entertainment. He grew up watching all the Hanna-Barbera productions and I
know for a fact that one of his personal goals is to see Jonny Quest back on
the air in a prime time network lineup. And get this--he wants to be the new voice
of Race Bannon!"

Numerous calls to the Federal Reserve and Cartoon Network seeking
comment went unanswered.