Medical debt is trapping families in poverty – and big banks are cashing in on it. Also, Julian Assange is still facing extradition and charges of violating the Espionage Act for exposing the US military’s war crimes. Mike Papantonio & Farron Cousins discuss more.


*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.

Mike Papantonio: All right. Medical debt is trapping families in poverty and big banks, they’re cashing in on it. How many big bank stories do we have to do to where somebody says, Jesus, we need to really rethink of how we’re treating Wall Street? You know, when I was, I gotta tell you, in the, in the maybe sixties or the seventies, banks weren’t, you know, it was, it wasn’t that, was it Gekko. What was the movie that was made, greed is good, you know?

Farron Cousins: Wall Street.

Mike Papantonio: Wall Street. Okay. Before Wall Street you had mom and pop banks. Okay. And then just like everything else you had, you had predators come in and buy all the mom and pop banks and come up with organizations like Wells Fargo, and you name it, Chase Manhattan. And so now we’re at a point to where, I don’t think there’s a way to turn around here, man. This is an ugly story. Why don’t you give, give us the story.

Farron Cousins: Yeah. Excuse me. Basically what’s happening here is obviously medical debt is a massive problem here in the United States. Skyrocketing healthcare costs, skyrocketing prescription drugs, surgery costs, whatever it is and people can’t pay it. So the big banks thought, wait a minute, here’s people in debt. How do we capitalize on this? Well, we partner with the hospitals.

Mike Papantonio: Mm-hmm.

Farron Cousins: So when you’re recovering from your surgery, the hospital comes up to you with a document and says, hey, uh, this is gonna set you, you back about $80,000. But don’t worry, sign this little piece of paper right here. We’re, we’re partnered with this Allied bank over here, whatever it is.

Mike Papantonio: Yeah.

Farron Cousins: You sign this, they’re gonna give you the loan and pay it off and you don’t have to worry. I know you just got a new heart a few hours ago, and we wanna make it as hassle free for you as possible. So they take out these massive loans that do, for the most part, at first, have a lower interest rate than a credit card.

Mike Papantonio: And then every year it turns and it turns and it turns.

Farron Cousins: It just balloons and balloons and balloons. And they’re, they’re screwing these patients over.

Mike Papantonio: Who are the people behind this? Is it, is it coming directly, is it Wall, is it a new Wall Street grab or is it just kind of, just here and there?

Farron Cousins: It’s, it’s both Wall Street because you got a lot of hedge funds in it and just the simple greed of the hospital industry.

Mike Papantonio: Yeah.

Farron Cousins: And I think people overlook the hospital industry.

Mike Papantonio: Yeah.

Farron Cousins: We don’t have, you know, you’ve talked about mom and pop, we don’t have mom and pop banks.

Mike Papantonio: No.

Farron Cousins: We don’t have mom and pop medical centers anymore.

Mike Papantonio: Doctor, doctor owned doctor. Doctor owned hospitals are a thing of the past.

Farron Cousins: Yeah.

Mike Papantonio: You know, where they came in and consolidated all that. This is how it lands right here.

Farron Cousins: Yep. And it’s all about the money. It’s not about the care. And the banks said, there’s a lot of money in this. Let’s go get our cut.

Mike Papantonio: Okay.

Mike Papantonio: Julian Assange is still facing extradition and charges of violating the Espionage Act for exposing the US military’s war crimes. You know, this story has always bothered me so badly because, you know, the people love to, he’s a criminal. He did these terrible things. He raped a girl, which proved to be completely nonsense.

Farron Cousins: Yeah.

Mike Papantonio: That was years ago and they said no. No, he didn’t. As a matter of fact, it was, that was created by the spook industry. The spook industry created that story to discredit him. Pick this up and how dangerous the Espionage Act is, and how if they use it against him, we’re in big trouble.

Farron Cousins: Yeah. We are. Listen, you know, people love him or hate him. It doesn’t matter your personal feelings about him at all. What we’re talking about here is journalism itself at risk. And Julian Assange is, is currently facing extradition to the United States. They want to charge him under the Espionage Act, which could put him in prison forever until he, till he dies. And the Espionage Act is not supposed to be for whistleblowers exposing problems with our own US military.

Mike Papantonio: But that’s a hundred percent of what they’re doing with it.

Farron Cousins: Yes, it is. And that’s, that’s what we’re hearing from past whistleblowers. Daniel Ellsberg.

Mike Papantonio: Yeah.

Farron Cousins: Has now had to come out. Noam Chomsky is coming out and they are sounding the alarm bells about what could happen, should Assange come over here and be convicted, because that is going to be the death blow for what’s left of journalism in this country.

Mike Papantonio: Howard Zinn was talking about this his entire career. He said, this is getting ready to happen. He even described what the legislation would look like. It looked like the Espionage Act. Now let’s talk about these horrible things he did. First, he, he disclosed that the feds were spying on US citizens. That’s one of the bad things he did. The other thing he did is he was the first to disclose that, that dozens of purely dirty tricks by the US were being pulled off all around the globe and he pointed ’em out. He said, this is what happened in this country. This is what happened in this country. Here are the people that were responsible. That’s another terrible thing he did. The other thing he did is he was the first to disclose the remarkable impact that the feds were having on controlling the media. You know, so, so the media attacked him. They didn’t like that. That, that’s terrible. How dare you do that. He was first to disclose the indiscriminate use of drone bombs that were killing civilians.

Farron Cousins: Yeah.

Mike Papantonio: God, what a criminal he is. You know, let’s put him in prison. He was the first to disclose the details about George Bush and Dick Cheney and how they lied and hustled us into the Iraq War. Sounds like a criminal to me, doesn’t he? I can’t even get my arms around it. And Biden comes out and says, you know, one of the first thing he, you know, Biden’s big thing, this is a quote from him. Our freedom is dependent on free un, unregulated information flowing through the press. Right?

Farron Cousins: Yeah. And, and they still, they will not drop the charges. They want him to come and stand trial. And the charges were actually brought by the Trump administration. The Trump DOJ after, you know, Trump had kind of made it seem like he wasn’t gonna do anything. You know, we were gonna forgive him or whatever. And then nope, they move forward full steam ahead. Biden has not reversed that course at all. And again, we are not talking about this man releasing, oh, here’s all these secrets the United States has.

Mike Papantonio: These are the things I’m talking, this is what he released.

Farron Cousins: Exactly. He’s, he’s talking about here are some war crimes that we’ve committed.

Mike Papantonio: Yeah.

Farron Cousins: Here are some other atrocities that our government is committing by manipulating the media.

Mike Papantonio: Yeah.

Farron Cousins: You know, these are things the public needs to know about. 20, well, not 20, 40 years ago he’d have been a hero, much like Daniel Ellsberg, but now public enemy number one for both the right and the left, depending on where you are that day. But this is an attack on journalism itself.

Mike Papantonio: It is. And you know, the problem, Farron, you and I talk about the this all the time. If, if investigative journalism is dead, which it is, tell me last time you saw a CNN investigative report that meant anything. That wasn’t driven by corporate. It’s dead. I mean, it, it, it’s, you can’t find investigative journalism unless you look at independent media like the sources that we rely on. So it’s dead. The Espionage Act doesn’t, would’ve had Daniel Ellsberg in prison to this day. He’d still be in prison. We would never know that, that Richard Nixon was bombing Cambodia. Completely contrary to what his, what he should have been doing. We would’ve never known the truth about what was happening in Vietnam. We would’ve never known that that whole thing was based on absolute lies. Daniel Ellsberg is the person that put that out there. Under the, under this act, he would be in prison right now to this day.

Farron Cousins: Exactly. And that’s what we have to be concerned about. I mean, hell even, you know, Bernstein and Woodward, maybe they would’ve been in prison too for exposing Watergate at this point.

Mike Papantonio: Think about it.

Farron Cousins: Because we’re not, it’s not just that journalism is dead. It’s that the, the feds are trying to make it criminal.

Mike Papantonio: Yeah.

Farron Cousins: That’s what it is.

Mike Papantonio: But why isn’t the New York Times, why aren’t they locking up the New York Times of the Washington Post? They’re disclosing this information. You know, they’re, they’re saying, yeah, well we’re gonna publish this.

Farron Cousins: Yeah.

Mike Papantonio: Why aren’t they part of the problem, you see? But it’s easier to go after this guy and, you know, make these stories about how what a terror, the movie they made about him was just, it was atrocious. And then you find out, well, who funded the movie? Well go, go follow that story. We ought to do a story on that. Tell the whole story about Ellsberg. But you know, the point is, it’s Kafka. Franz Kafka had it right in his, he wrote a great book called The Trial. Everybody should read it. I know you’ve read it. You’re probably one of the most read political commentators I know. But everybody needs to understand that’s what’s happening here. It’s, it’s Kafka as, as we’re watching this unfold, and nobody seems to give a.

Mike Papantonio is an American attorney and television and radio talk show host. He is past president of The National Trial Lawyers, the most prestigious trial lawyer association in America; and is one of the few living attorneys inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. He hosts the international television show "America's Lawyer"; and co-hosts Ring of Fire Radio, a nationally syndicated weekly radio program, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sam Seder.