Listeners Sound Off On Banking, Party Crashers

Tell Me More host Michel Martin and Lee Hill, the program's "digital media guy," comb through listener feedback and offer important news updates to recent conversations heard on the program. This week, the audience reacts to a recent report that many Americans are without a bank account. Also, a Tell Me More Facebook friend has strong words for the U.S. Secret Service after party crashers infiltrated the White House.

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MICHEL MARTIN, host:

And now it's time for Backtalk, where we lift the curtain on what's happening in the TELL ME MORE blogosphere and get a chance to hear from you, our listeners. Lee Hill, our digital media guy, is here. And Lee, this week the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation released a report with important information about Americans and their financial-management techniques.

According to a report released on Wednesday, a significant number of American households, nearly 8 percent or 9 million, are unbanked, meaning they have no bank account. The findings were especially high among minority groups. Lee, you blogged about this on our Web site, and quite a few people wrote back. What did they say?

LEE HILL: Hey, Michel. Well, many people were not surprised by the FDIC findings, and I'll read a post here from blogger Jhasheer(ph). He writes: I'm a 27-year-old software developer with a master's degree. At this time last year, my entire department was cut, and I was suddenly out of a job. In March of this year, I managed to find a job, but it was a severe pay cut. I fell behind in my bills, my accounts went overdrawn, and I couldn't afford to pay the bank and pay my bills. Since May, I've only dealt in cash. The two bank accounts I had prior to my financial crisis ended up being the biggest contributors to my financial debt.

MARTIN: Well, thanks, Jhasheer, good luck with everything. This week, we reported on Crasher-gate. That's the story about the Virginia couple, the Salahis, who were somehow able to bypass security at the Obama administration's first state dinner, just before Thanksgiving. The whole thing has prompted plenty of questions and finger-pointing, some of it directed at White House social secretary Desiree Rogers. She's the first African-American to hold that post; she's kind of a glamorous figure in her own right; and she's been criticized for not having someone from her office present to assist the Secret Service in clearing in guests.

We'll talk about this more coming up in our Barbershop segment, but recently, we posed this question on Facebook: Was the breach in security the fault of the Salahis or White House social secretary Desiree Rogers?

HILL: And Michel, we caught up with blogger Brent(ph), one of our Facebook friends, who had this to say:

BRENT: It's the Salahis' fault, primarily, for essentially trespassing. It's the Secret Service's fault, secondarily, for letting people not on the list in. Why should it be necessary for the social secretary to be at the door? She was at the event. If there was an issue, someone could have easily found her and asked her about it. The Secret Service person who let them in should be fired for not doing their job, and being too lazy to ask if these people should have been let in or not.

HILL: OK, thanks, Brent. And Michel, I should mention that most of the replies faulted the U.S. Secret Service, and we've learned that those agents at the state dinner have since been placed on administrative leave.

MARTIN: Lee, any other updates?

HILL: Last month, we reported on a gruesome discovery in Cleveland, Ohio, where 11 decomposing bodies were found in the home of Anthony Sowell, who now stands accused of multiple murders. Well, yesterday, Sowell pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

Also, we've been following that mayoral race in Atlanta, where city council member Mary Norwood and state senator Kasim Reed faced each other in a runoff to become the city's next chief executive. Well, we called the Wall Street Journal's Corey Dade for an update. He tells us that Reed has claimed victory, but Norwood may yet call for a recount, but the race has yet to be officially called. We expect that it could be called this weekend.

MARTIN: Thank you, Lee.

HILL: Thank you, Michel.

MARTIN: And remember, with TELL ME MORE, the conversation never ends. To tell us more, you can call our comment line at 202-842-3522. Please remember to leave us your name. You can also log on to our new Web site, where you can read more from fellow listeners and enjoy a simpler social networking experience. Go to npr.org, click on programs, then on TELL ME MORE and blog it out.

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