Accuracy in Media

It is rare when The Wall Street Journal, Investor’s Business Daily, The Washington Post and The New York Times all agree on something. But President Obama’s attack on the Chamber of Commerce in the weeks leading up to the November 2 elections—for supposedly spending “foreign money” on the campaign—caused all of them to cry foul.

The Journal and IBD could be expected to treat Obama’s charges with skepticism. But when the Times and Post object, you know Obama is in trouble. And he soon came to recognize it.

Observers agree that the Obama administration appeared increasingly desperate and concerned about the outcome of the election, and was making unsubstantiated charges that managed to offend conservative and liberal news organization alike.

As polls pointed to a likely large Republican win in the election (this AIM Report went to press before the November 2 election), the Democrats coordinated an attack claiming that the Chamber of Commerce was using “foreign money” to unfairly and perhaps illegally influence the election. No evidence of this sensational charge was presented. But according to White House adviser David Axelrod on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” the Chamber of Commerce should have to prove it’s not true.

The Chamber of Commerce said it receives about $100,000 a year in dues from foreign-owned corporations with American subsidiaries. They were spending between $50 and $75 million to try to elect people, mostly Republicans, who are pro-business. The Chamber, like many Americans, is concerned about the transformation of the American free enterprise system into a federal government-managed economy burdened with high taxes and debt.

The charge, which originated with the leftist Center for American Progress (CAP), was that some of the money from foreign-based companies somehow spills into the Chamber’s general funds and they were then used in the campaign ads. There are rules that govern such transactions, and they require that funds be accounted for in specific ways to avoid violating laws and Federal Election Commission rules. CAP did not offer any evidence that the Chamber of Commerce has violated any such laws.

It is ironic that CAP, a George Soros-funded organization, would raise such a charge, since Soros makes money through foreign investments and currency manipulations. He was convicted of insider trading in France.

The liberal media would usually jump on board with the Democrats and try turning a charge like this into a Republican scandal. But in this case, not only were they not biting, but they ridiculed the Democrats for their desperate move. This exchange, for example, took place on CBS’s Face the Nation with David Axelrod as the guest, in early October.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Now I want to ask you about that because the New York Times looked into the Chamber specifically and said the Chamber really isn’t putting foreign money into the campaign. That it does charge its foreign affiliates dues that bring in less than a hundred and thousand dollars a year. A lot of organizations including Labor Unions doing—do that. But the Chamber has an annual budget of two hundred million dollars and it says, along with that, it keeps these foreign dues separate. They do spend heavily in politics, twenty-five million so far. They expect to spend fifty million. But this part about foreign money, that appears to be peanuts, Mister Axelrod, I mean, do you have any evidence that it’s anything other than peanuts?

DAVID AXELROD: Well, do you have any evidence that it’s not, Bob? The fact is that the Chamber has asserted that but they won’t release any information about where their campaign money is coming from. And that’s at the core of the problem here. What we’ve seen in part because of a loophole that the Supreme Court allowed earlier this year, we now see tens of millions of dollars being spent by the Chamber and a number of organizations some of which just cropped up.

The “loophole,” the Citizens United case, does not lift the prohibition on foreign funding of U.S. elections. It only gives corporations the rights already enjoyed by labor unions friendly to the Obama Administration.

The Washington Post, which strongly disagreed with the Supreme Court’s decision in that case, was very critical of the Obama Administration. In an editorial, the Post argued that “the rhetoric about this development, from President Obama on down, is irresponsibly alarmist. And the popular understanding of how this mess arose—generated by the President and other Democrats and abetted in part by media reports—is ill-informed. The fundamental problem is not the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United, although that reflected wrongheaded judicial activism. The real problem lies in a tax code that permits too much political activity to take place in secrecy.”

Regarding the use of secret “foreign money” by the Chamber, the Post said, “The White House seems willing to stoke xenophobia without any evidence for its accusations.” The charge of “xenophobia” is usually reserved for conservatives upset about illegal foreign immigration.

The New York Times also pushed back. They referred to Obama’s statement that “Just this week, we learned that one of the largest groups paying for these ads regularly takes in money from foreign corporations…So groups that receive foreign money are spending huge sums to influence American elections.”

“But,” according to the Times, “a closer examination shows that there is little evidence that what the chamber does in collecting overseas dues is improper or even unusual, according to both liberal and conservative election-law lawyers and campaign finance documents.”

“In fact,” said the Times, “the controversy over the Chamber of Commerce financing may say more about the Washington spin cycle—where an Internet blog posting can be quickly picked up by like-minded groups and become political fodder for the president himself—than it does about the vagaries of campaign finance.”

The “Internet blog posting” was a reference to the charge originating with the Soros-funded CAP.

The Times article continued on:

“Organizations from both ends of the political spectrum, from liberal ones like the A.F.L.-C.I.O. and the Sierra Club to conservative groups like the National Rifle Association, have international affiliations and get money from foreign entities while at the same time pushing political causes in the United States.

“In addition, more than 160 political action committees active in campaigning have been set up by corporations that are based overseas, including military contractors like B.A.E. Systems and pharmaceutical giants like GlaxoSmithKline, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan research service.

“Such groups, which collectively have spent hundreds of millions dollars on political causes to advance their agenda, are required by law to ensure that any foreign money they receive is isolated and not used to finance political activities, which would violate a longstanding federal ban. The Chamber of Commerce says it has a vigorous process for ensuring that does not happen, and no evidence has emerged to suggest that is untrue.”

While the Times and Post simply pointed out that Obama’s charge was unsubstantiated and hypocritical, the partisans at MSNBC tried to pump some life into the allegation.

Keith Olbermann, for example, had the editor of CAP’s “Think Progress” blog, Faiz Shakir, on his show to repeat the charge and suggest there is some reason to believe it is true. But the performance fell flat. Shakir is the original source of the dubious charge and provides talking points on a regular basis for MSNBC personalities.

The use of Shakir as some kind of “expert” could be considered payback to White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton, who has praised Olbermann and his MSNBC side kick, Rachel Maddow, as personalities who “keep our government honest” and promote “progressive values.” Burton said that Obama “thinks that those folks provide an invaluable service.”

It seems that no charge against the Republicans or their allies is ridiculous enough to be treated with skepticism by the Olbermann/Maddow crew. This is why they are considered valuable by the increasingly desperate Obama Administration.

In addition to the news organizations which dismissed the charge, others took a look and found it wanting. FactCheck.org analyzed the charge and concluded that “Accusing anybody of violating the law is a serious matter requiring serious evidence to back it up. So far Democrats have produced none.”

Kevin Ganster of ChamberPost.com did an excellent job of documenting the various articles exposing the crude allegations and tactics of the Administration in going after the Chamber.

Since there was no evidence for the charge, one must conclude that Obama regards Olbermann and Maddow as his “pets,” in the same way that Democratic Senate Leader Harry Reid said that he considers Democratic senatorial candidate Chris Coons of Delaware to be his “pet.”

But Olbermann and Maddow are pets with bark but no bite. Plus, they are still trying to figure out how to draw Fox News-size audiences.

Since Obama raised the charge of foreign money in U.S. elections, it is helpful to review what we know with certainty about the subject.

Ken Timmerman previously documented that the Obama presidential campaign received more than $200 million that were from unidentified sources, including some from foreign sources, some of which they ultimately gave back when caught red handed.

Even The Washington Post took note at the time, reporting that “Faced with a huge influx of donations over the Internet, the campaign has also chosen not to use basic security measures to prevent potentially illegal or anonymous contributions from flowing into its accounts, aides acknowledged. Instead, the campaign is scrutinizing its books for improper donations after the money has been deposited.”

With Obama’s charge of foreign money petering out, Peter Baker of the Times authored a piece,  “Education of a President,” in which Obama’s desperation about the election appeared to be evolving into resignation, and that there might be a path forward after the midterm elections.

“Obama expressed optimism to me that he could make common cause with Republicans after the midterm elections,” wrote Baker. “It may be that regardless of what happens after this election, they feel more responsible,” he said, ‘either because they didn’t do as well as they anticipated, and so the strategy of just saying no to everything and sitting on the sidelines and throwing bombs didn’t work for them, or they did reasonably well, in which case the American people are going to be looking to them to offer serious proposals and work with me in a serious way.’”

It’s not clear that Obama has found a winning strategy, calling opponents who just might be moving into a position of power in Congress “bomb throwers.” It is also a bad use of language, coming from somebody who used to associate with people like Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, who planted real bombs.

The Times article indicated a realization that if the media won’t accept his charges of tainted money, he may have lost the ally that counted the most. It will never be the same, no matter what happened on November 2.

CBS News Biased Against Christine O’Donnell

By Don Irvine

It doesn’t take much to figure out that CBS News has had a bone to pick with U.S. Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell.

O’Donnell was endorsed by Sarah Palin shortly before the Delaware primaries.  Only days after she beat incumbent Mike Castle for the Republican nomination, liberal media hosts were circulating videos from 1999 of a young O’Donnell talking about her experiences with Wiccans in high school.

In October, Conservatives4Congress noted CBS News’ diligent coverage of the Wiccan issue.  CBS News took pains to explain that O’Donnell was not endorsed by Wiccans or Satanists. “O’Donnell’s anecdote also misrepresents Satanists,” one “news” article stated, going on to quote a Satanist leader who said that O’Donnell “has a tendency to confuse Satanism with not only Wicca but also rock fan culture.”

A quick search on CBSNews.com finds that while the “news” site had 133 articles and videos mentioning Christine O’Donnell, it only had 47 articles mentioning Chris Coons—who, in case you haven’t heard of him, was her Democratic challenger in the Delaware U.S. Senate race.

Among the top ten headlines (as sorted by CBS’s idea of “relevance”) that show up when you search for O’Donnell on CBSNews.com are:

• Christine O’Donnell “Clearly a Criminal”

• Christine O’Donnell’s Witchcraft Past

• Christine O’Donnell: “I Dabbled Into Witchcraft”

• Christine O’Donnell Wins, and the GOP Loses

Compare that to the top headlines that show up for Chris Coons:

• Christine O’Donnell’s Win in Delaware “Reenergized” Chris Coons’ Supporters

• Delaware’s Chris Coons: “Strong Chance I’ll Be Senator”

• Christine O’Donnell Defends Herself During First Face Off with Chris Coons

• O’Connell [sic] Foe’s Career Marked By Political Shift

It should come as no surprise that CBS reporters focused so diligently on stories that paint O’Donnell as a Satanist-misrepresenting criminal. And it should come as no surprise that CBS was whitewashing Chris Coons’ questionable past. In college, after spending time in Kenya, Coons wrote an article for his school newspaper entitled “Chris Coons: The Making of a Bearded Marxist.”

CBS News defended Coons’ article:

Coons played down the issue, saying the article title referred to ribbing from his college buddies about his change in political views. He never described himself as a Marxist in the article, nor did he apologize for America. He did note that he had “returned to loving America, but in the way of one who has realized its faults and failures and still believes in its promise.”

Coons says he believes in capitalism, but that unlike O’Donnell, he does not believe in unfettered markets, which he says must be properly regulated.

But what was actually in Coons’ article? Politico reports that Coons’ article included:

• Coons realizing “that Kenya and America are very different, but experiences like [the trip to Kenya] warned me that my own favorite beliefs in the miracles of free enterprise and the boundless opportunities to be had in America were largely untrue.”

• Coons “suspect[ing]…that the ideal of America as a ‘beacon of freedom and justice, providing hope for the world’ was not exactly based in reality.”

• Coons explaining that a class he took on cultural anthropology had “undermined the accepted value of progress and the cultural superiority of the West.”

Coons’ article also averred that going to Kenya had “changed [Coons’] personality; Africa […] seems a catalytic converter that takes in clean-shaven, clear-thinking Americans and sends back bearded Marxists.”

CBS was correct in that Coons never directly stated that he was a Marxist in the article, and it’s true that he said he had “returned to loving America.” But his article also clearly shows that his time in Kenya left him strongly doubting America’s status as a “beacon of freedom and justice.” In his article he clearly stated that he no longer believed in free enterprise, “the boundless opportunities to be had in America,” and America’s “cultural superiority.” Does this sound like the kind of person most Americans would want elected to Congress?

Well, maybe not. And maybe that’s why the CBS article glossed over those tidbits from Coons’ article; only the reporters themselves know for sure.  But either way, the fact is that CBS was clearly skewing the coverage of the 2010 U.S. Senate race in Delaware.

MSM Orders Reporters to Avoid Stewart Rally

By Don Irvine

What do The New York Times, ABC News, CBS News, the Associated Press, and National Public Radio all have in common?  In addition to their liberal bias, these news outlets have something new to share: they’ve all ordered their employees not to attend either of the Comedy Central rallies sponsored by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert on October 30. Why? They say it’s to avoid the appearance of political bias.

None of these news outlets banned employees from attending the Glenn Beck rally—presumably because no left-winger employed at ABC News or NPR would even want to attend a rally run by Glenn Beck.  Indeed, this action to avoid appearing biased has backfired, instead showing that these outlets are just as liberal as we thought they were.

Take, for example, NPR’s official statement on why they didn’t have to release a ban on the Beck 8/28 rally:

“We didn’t get questions from staff about the Restoring Honor and One Nation rallies, because it was obvious to everyone that these were overtly political events. It’s different with the Colbert and Stewart rallies; they are ambiguous.”

Contrary to NPR’s apparent belief, the Restoring Honor rally was not overtly political: the point was honor, not which party to vote for. The One Nation rally was admittedly overt in its politics, with union members bussed in and a clear Democratic agenda.

But to say that the Colbert and Stewart rallies are “ambiguous” is a lie at worst and a mistake at best. Ben Smith at Politico pointed out several associates of the DNC who have been concerned that the Comedy Central rallies will detract from the Democratic Party’s GOTV efforts the weekend before the election. If this were a truly ambiguous rally, one might think the Democrats and Republicans would be evenly split in their worry about its effects on GOTV.

Instead, says Politico, Democratic operatives are considering setting up phone banks at the rally.

It’s a good thing those outlets have banned participation in the rally, but you can trust that they are just as biased as ever.

Editor’s Letter

Dear Fellow Media Watchdog,

Suddenly, the calls that we have been issuing for decades to defund National Public Radio and other public broadcasting outlets are being picked up by many others. The spark was the firing of liberal black commentator Juan Williams by NPR. Williams for years has also been a liberal commentator on Fox News.

Here’s the story: Williams made comments on Fox about getting nervous when seeing somebody in Muslim garb boarding an airplane. NPR President Vivian Schiller fired Williams, saying he needed to see a psychiatrist. She then apologized for making that comment about Williams.

Then, some members of Congress called on Congress to stop federal funding of NPR.

NPR was looking for an excuse to get rid of Williams because NPR executives and journalists considered the liberal civil rights activist too conservative simply because of his association with Fox.

AIM Founder Reed Irvine was calling for ending federal funding off NPR and public television decades ago. Just a couple of years ago I was personally making the rounds of Capitol Hill urging members of Congress to de-fund public broadcasting. Once again, AIM was way ahead of the curve.

The difference now is that a new Congress may be able to carry out the defunding of public TV and radio.

Let those who run public broadcasting depend on George Soros and other rich leftists for their subsidies. Quit soaking the hard-pressed American taxpayer to underwrite the lifestyles of the limousine liberals in the media.

The time for talking is over. The new Congress must act. No more tax dollars for public TV and radio. Call Congress at 202-224-3121.

For Accuracy in Media,

Cliff Kincaid




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