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Chris Matthews on what political parties can do to appeal to working people

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River to River, hosted by Ben Kieffer

Longtime MSNBC commentator joins the show to discuss the country's political future. Then Midwest Newsroom editors discuss their work to chronicle abuses inflicted on wouldbe home buyers, and Iowa Legal Aid weighs in on what options these buyers have.

Following 26 years on television including MSNBC's Hardball, Chris Matthews has been a primetime voice on politics, national and abroad. On this episode of River to River, host Ben Kieffer speaks with Matthews about the Republicans and Democrats and the extent to which they appeal to working people. Matthews also discusses his alleged history of sexist behavior and comments.

One of the few ways individuals and households who can't get a conventional mortgage can come to own a home is through so-called contracts for deeds. These private agreements are between two parties to buy a house, a seller and buyer. The seller collects monthly payments, but it's not until the last payment that the deed is exchanged. A new investigation from the Midwest Newsroomshows how a general lack of regulation and oversight around these contracts means many buyers end up paying into houses they never end up owning, losing all their equity in the process.

Last, Alex Kornya of Iowa Legal Aid joins the show. Despite Iowa's comparatively stronger protections for buyers, he said Iowa Legal Aid continues to find clients in precarious positions after a contract for deed went awry. He describes one case his team dealt with:

"He was facing homelessness. He had no real capacity to start again. And if he hadn't been able to find counsel to get the forfeiture dismissed, I think things would have been pretty bad for him," Kornya said. "... There's no protection really, except possibly the disclosure laws which are really limited in many ways for enforceability."


  • Chris Matthews, author, journalist and former host of Hardball on MSNBC
  • Laura Ziegler, community engagement editor at KCUR in Kansas City
  • Steven Vockrodt, investigative editor for Midwest Newsroom
  • Alex Kornya, litigation director and general counsel for Iowa Legal Aid
Ben Kieffer is the host of IPR's River to River
Zachary Oren Smith is a reporter covering Eastern Iowa