Thursday, April 30, 2015

Networks Barely Mention Sanders Candidacy, Houck Asserts “Fawning” Coverage

MRC Watch Dept. - Thursday’s formal entry into the 2016 Democratic presidential primary of Vermont’s independent Sen. Bernie Sanders presents the MRC gang with a bit of a quandary. If the corporate press is really the demonic “liberal media” they spend every day pretending it to be, Sanders, who is challenging Hillary Clinton from the left, would be heavily promoted by it. In reality, of course, candidates like Sanders, a social democrat, are marginalized and ignored by the “mainstream” press. The sparse coverage given the senator’s formal announcement by the major network evening newscasts Thursday is atypical only insofar as candidates like Sanders usually aren’t mentioned at all. So how is someone whose livelihood is plying conservatives with a “liberal media” fantasy to explain this coverage? The MRC’s Curtis Houck does it by pretending the coverage was fawning anyway.

If, while watching either the CBS Evening News or ABC’s World News Tonight, you’d sneezed, you could have missed their only mentions of Sanders’ announcement. On ABC, anchor David Muir dispensed with the matter in less than 20 seconds:
“Now, to the race for 2016, and a new contender tonight. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent, saying he’s running for the Democratic nomination, vowing to press Hillary Clinton over climate change, campaign finance reform and income inequality in the middle class. Clinton saying she agrees the ‘focus must be on the middle class,’ welcoming him to the race tonight.”
Muir then moved on to the really important news of the day -- a full report on the fact that Sofia Vergara is being sued by her ex. Over on CBS, it was even worse. The only mention came as an afterthought at the end of an unrelated report about the Clinton Foundation controversy; correspondent Nancy Cordes said, “Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who just got into the presidential race today and is Clinton’s first Democratic challenger, well, he said he thinks the [Clinton Foundation] donations are a fair campaign issue.”

The NBC Nightly News wasn’t much better. Sanders’ announcement was contextualized as a potential problem for Hillary Clinton on her road to the Democratic nomination. Correspondent Andrea Mitchell shoehorned a few words about Sanders and a pair of soundbites from the candidate into her report about Clinton’s political chameleonism over the years.

There isn’t much Houck can say about the virtual non-coverage doled out by ABC and CBS–he notes that Sanders received “only a brief reference” on CBS and a “19-second news brief from anchor David Muir.” Of the NBC mention, Houck writes that “Mitchell offered some fawning words for” Sanders and describes Mitchell’s report thusly:
“In between soundbites from Sanders, Mitchell gushed that ‘[h]e’s no your typical blow dried politician’ since he was ‘[a] one time socialist mayor of Burlington, Vermont’ and will be ‘challenging Clinton over her fundraising and possible conflicts of interest.’
It’s unclear on what planet reciting a few barebones biographical details constitutes “fawning” and gushing but Houck apparently files his reports from there (this one under a headline that reads, in part, “NBC Hails Bernie Sanders”).

To conclude, Houck, seemingly unfazed by the logical implications of what he’s just been outlining, tries to put the whole business in the context of the MRC’s standard conservative persecution fantasy:
“In contrast to the coverage Sanders has received thus far, the networks were far less warm toward any of the three declared Republican candidates.”
His characterization of the network reports on those candidates is as absurd and indefensible as his representation of the Sanders coverage. When it comes to fashioning these misrepresentations for the Republican candidates (or for Democratic candidate Clinton), he has a lot more with which to work — unlike Sanders, all of them, upon declaring for the presidency, received full reports on all of the evening newscasts.


[Note: This article was written for MRC Watch, a blog dedicated to a critique of the Media Research Center]

PunditFact Corrects Limbaugh and the Federalist, Blumer Finds Accuracy Laughable [Updated]

MRC Watch Dept. - Ugh. Follow this: Last month, the Federalist, a conservative publication, ran an article that note the Clinton Foundation had taken in big bucks from foreign governments while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State, a practice author Sean Davis labeled unconstitutional:
The official Team Clinton defense is that this whole thing is no big deal because the Clinton Foundation uses all that money to save lives… If only that were true. When anyone contributes to the Clinton Foundation, it actually goes toward fat salaries, administrative bloat, and lavish travel.
Between 2009 and 2012, the Clinton Foundation raised over $500 million dollars according to a review of IRS documents by The Federalist (2012,2011, 2010, 2009, 2008). A measly 15 percent of that, or $75 million, went towards programmatic grants. More than $25 million went to fund travel expenses. Nearly $110 million went toward employee salaries and benefits. And a whopping $290 million during that period — nearly 60 percent of all money raised — was classified merely as “other expenses.” Official IRS forms do not list cigar or dry-cleaning expenses as a specific line item. The Clinton Foundation may well be saving lives, but it seems odd that the costs of so many life-saving activities would be classified by the organization itself as just random, miscellaneous expenses.
On 23 April, Rush Limbaugh took to his radio show to repeat this assertion:
“The Federalist reports only 15 percent of the money donated to the Clinton Family Foundation went to actual charitable causes. The bulk of the money donated to the Clinton Family Foundation went to travel, salaries, and benefits. Sixty percent of all the money raised went to other expenses. In other words, folks, 85 percent of every dollar donated to the Clinton Foundation ended up either with the Clintons or with their staff to pay for travel, salaries, and benefits. Fifteen cents of every dollar actually went to some charitable beneficiary.”
Two days later, the Clinton Foundation replied, tweeting that “More than 88% of our expenditures go directly to our life-changing work,” and offering a chart that broke down their expenditures. At this point, PunditFact, a division of Politifact, jumped in and evaluated the Federalist/Limbaugh claim. Their rating: Mostly False. From the PunditFact assessment:
“…many foundations carry out charitable works by giving money to other organizations that, in turn, do the ground-level charity work, whereas the Clinton foundation’s charitable works are mostly done by people on the foundation’s payroll. ‘We are an implementing organization rather than a grantmaking organization,’ said the foundation’s [spokesman Craig] Minassian. That’s why the Clinton Foundation’s 990s show a relatively small amount of money categorized as “grants” — only about 10 percent of all expenses in 2013.
“The foundation says its own employees are doing its charitable work. The annual report… says that 7 percent of expenditures were spent on ‘management and expenses’ and 4.5 percent for ‘fundraising.’… Add those two percentages together and you get almost 12 percent; subtract that from 100 percent and you get the magic 88 percent figure the foundation cited.”
At this point, Newsbusters Tom Blumer bumbles into the matter:
“If Rush Limbaugh told his audience that the sun rose in the east today, it seems that PunditFact, an arm of Politifact, would find a way to determine that he wasn't telling the truth.
“That’s pretty much what you have to conclude from the web site’s laughable evaluation of Limbaugh’s true assertion that ‘The Federalist reports only 15 percent of the money donated to the Clinton Family Foundation went to actual charitable causes.’… The Clinton Foundation’s response as relayed at PunditFact is essentially that 88 cents of every dollar goes to ‘life-changing work,’ and not 15 cents, because they have dedicated people on staff actively engaged in direct charitable efforts. Even if true — given the Clintons’ track record, there’s certainly tons of room for doubt; after all, paying someone a salary can be ‘life-changing’ if they’re uninvolved in service delivery — that doesn't refute the Federalist’s original or Rush’s relayed claim.”
But of course, the Federalist claim was that most of the money taken in by the Clinton Foundation wasn’t going for charitable work at all. As PunditFact noted,
“There’s a grain of truth here — roughly 85 percent of the foundation’s spending was for items other than charitable grants to other organizations, and a large chunk of this 85 percent did go to Clinton Foundation staff for travel, salaries and benefits. However, the foundation says it does most of its charitable work in-house, and it’s not credible to think that the foundation spent zero dollars beyond grants on any charitable work, which is what it would take for Limbaugh to be correct.”
The Federalist’s Davis, a terrible demagogue, has responded to these developments but the few significant nuggets in his attempts at rebuttal[1] are lost in a cloud of mostly unresponsive, irrational raving. Blumer, perhaps finding Davis’s tortured ranting too difficult a slog, ignores most of it, including the few legitimate questions Davis raises, and chooses to spotlight, instead, the conspiracy-mongering portion of Davis’s reply, as relayed by the Washington Examiner:
“‘PunditFact is funded in large part by the Ford Foundation, a significant Clinton Foundation donor and partner. I’ll leave it to others to determine why they failed to disclose that fact in their article and how that financial relationship might impact their coverage of the Clinton Foundation,’ he (Davis) told the Examiner Wednesday.”
While any reasonable reader may judge that an absurd non-response, Blumer bolds it then harps on it:
“At a bare minimum, Punditfact owed its readers an explanation of its relationships with Clinton-supporting foundations. But I guess revealing conflicts of interest is only for the little people — or anyone else with whom the Clintons disagree.”
While, as PunditFact notes, the Clinton Foundation’s estimates regarding the percentage of its budget spent on charity work depends on the foundation’s own characterization of its expenditures,[2] the Davis claim, as repeated by Limbaugh, is entirely indefensible, and remains so even if the MRC does defend it.



[1] The major example is here, where Davis wrote:
"While some may claim that the Clinton Foundation does its charity by itself, rather than outsourcing to other organizations in the form of grants, there appears to be little evidence of that activity in 2013. In 2008, for example, the Clinton Foundation spent nearly $100 million purchasing and distributing medicine and working with its care partners. In2009, the organization spent $126 million on pharmaceutical and care partner expenses. By 2011, those activities were virtually non-existent. The group spent nothing on pharmaceutical expenses and only $1.2 million on care partner expenses. In 2012 and 2013, the Clinton Foundation spent $0."
That doesn't even remotely support Davis’s own original claims about the foundation but it is very intriguing. Davis buried it — the item that should have been his own lede — toward the end of one of his unfortunate rants.

[2] And while Blumer is correct in noting there’s always room for doubt when it comes to the Clintons, that’s probably a teensy bit too much doubt.

UPDATE (2 May, 2015) - Mark NC over at News Corpse notes that Blumer points to a Fox News article to claim "that the Federalist and Limbaugh might have missed the mark" but in the other direction -- that the actual amount of their foundation budget that went to charity was only 10%. But upon reading the article, the Fox source for this is Davis himself! Is Blumer this incompetent or this dishonest (and this trusting that his readers won't bother to check)?

[Note: This article was written for MRC Watch, a blog dedicated to a critique of the Media Research Center]

Lawyer Recounts Legal History, Ballas Misrepresents

MRC Watch Dept. - Tuesday as part of MSNBC's coverage of the current Supreme Court case on gay marriage, NewsNation host Tamron Hall interviewed Josh Schiller, a lawyer who had worked on challenges to bans on same-sex marriage in Virginia and California. Over at Newsbusters, Bryan Ballasoffered up an absolutely ludicrous misrepresentation of the entire affair:
“Throwing objectivity out the window, Hall framed the marriage debate in the most loaded way possible. ‘Josh, back to the legal aspect of it, again, the heart of this is whether a voter or voters should decide someone else’s right.’ Based on that principle, it’s also unjust that the government impairs the right to polygamy, incest, and marriage to a minor.”
One could also say that, based on that principle, it’s unjust whenever the government impairs the freedom of speech, but putting it that way doesn't allow MRC hacks to compare adults in consensual relationships to fellows who molest their children.

Hall’s question, Ballas says, “pales in comparison to Schiller’s response,” which, he asserted, compared the gay plaintiffs in the case to Japanese-Americans interned during World War II. To prove it, he quotes Schiller (all bolding his):
“‘That’s exactly right. And the Supreme Court looks at this in a series of cases that date back over 60 years, starting with the internment of Japanese during the World War II.And it looks at these laws that target a minority group, and there are briefs, like the Justice Department’s briefs, arguing that people who are identified as gay or lesbian are targeted as a minority group in this country and should be protected based on that status.'”
Ballas fumes:
“An objective reporter might have reacted to this interpretation with ‘How are you comparing gays to rounding up Japanese Americans and holding them in internment camps?’ But this is MSNBC, where the activist anchors enable leftist guests and refuse to challenge them when they launch loaded oppression analogies.”
The attentive — a group among whom one may say, if one is feeling charitable, Ballas is not included — will already see Ballas’s error. The series of rulings that form the precedents in play in the current matter before the court stretch back to the internment case. This is not only an historical fact, it’s also critical knowledge for anyone who wishes to have any understanding of the current case. Pointing out this history isnot some argument that the treatment of homosexuals is the same as those who were kidnapped by the government and thrown in concentration camps.

What Ballas opted to conceal from his readers — because quoting it would even more clearly destroy the premise of his article — is what Schiller’s had said prior to the part he quoted:
“…the government — the administration — is going to argue for the Supreme Court to apply what’s called a ‘strict scrutiny’ test in overturning these bans. If the court accepts that argument, they can’t uphold the law. Every decision that has considered ‘strict scrutiny’ requires a compelling government interest, and what we know here is that there is no government interest in upholding these bans.”
The first such case in which the court applied the “strict scrutiny” standard: Korematsu v. United States (1944), which dealt with — wait for it — the Japanese internment.


[Note: This article was written for MRC Watch, a blog dedicated to a critique of the Media Research Center]

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

ABC’s George Stephanopoulous Gives Honest Answer, Scott Whitlock Slanders Him For It

MRC Watch Dept. - Scott Whitlock doesn't like something George Stephanopoulous had to say about the allegations contained in “Clinton Cash”:
Good Morning America co-host George Stephanopoulos, a former Bill Clinton operative, appeared on Tuesday’s Daily Show and hedged on the scandal engulfing Hillary Clinton and her family’s charitable foundation. Prompted by Jon Stewart, the co-host minimized, ‘This is a tough one. Because when you actually look at, look closely at it, he [Peter Schweizer] even says there is no evidence of any direct action taken on behalf of the donors.’
“The best the journalist could do is allow that for governments and donors who give millions to the Clinton Foundation, ‘There is a hope that is going to lead to something.'”
Monday, when Schweizer appeared on NBC’s Today, he was asked directly by host Savannah Guthrie, “Do you have any specific instance in which Hillary Clinton directly intervenes on behalf of donors to the Clinton foundation?” He dodged the question and for a “reply,” offered even larger unsubstantiated charges. On Sunday, he’d appeared on Stephanopoulous’s own This Week show and, pressed on the same matter, offered the same song-and-dance. He said he wanted a criminal investigation yet was unable to provide evidence of any crime that would justify one. He insisted there was better evidence of criminal wrongdoing in the case of the Clinton Foundation than there was in the cases against former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell and Sen. Bob Menendez — Menendez was just indicted on 14 criminal counts, McDonnell was actually convicted on 11 counts. Asked by Stephanopoulous if there was any “smoking gun” in the matter, he replied, “Yes. The smoking gun is in the pattern of behavior.” So his proof of the truth of his allegations are his allegations. Stephanopoulous managed to somewhat pin down the evasive Schweizer on the much-discussed (and now largely discredited) charge from “Clinton Cash” that Hillary Clinton, as Secretary of State, facilitated the sale of an uranium mine to Russian interests:
STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you have any evidence that she actually intervened in this issue?
SCHWEIZER: No, we don’t have direct evidence. But it warrants further investigation because, again, George, this is part of the broader pattern.
In light of this, it’s impossible to see Stephanopoulous’s comments on the Daily Show as anything other than an honest evaluation of this particular matter.[*] What else could he have said? And for his honesty, Whitlock describes him as “a former Bill Clinton operative” who “hedged” and “minimized” the charges against Hillary Clinton.


[*] Daily Show host Jon Stewart did his usual excellent job of putting the Clinton Foundation matter into perspective:
“So there is an industry around this. A book is written. The guy comes on your show.  He does a bunch of interviews. He does a bunch of interviews and they all talk about the scandal of these few millions of dollars and what it might have led to. In the same breath she [Hillary Clinton] announced ‘I am going to raise $2.5 billion dollars’ and everybody was like, ‘She is serious.’ Now, what does that money buy?”
Whiltlock’s characterization of this: “Stewart responded by attacking Clinton from the left”

[Note: This article was written for MRC Watch, a blog dedicated to a critique of the Media Research Center]

Non-Story Getting Non-Coverage Leaves Scott Whitlock Non-Happy

MRC Watch Dept. - Scott Whitlock is upset! A minor news item of little real importance was ignored by the network morning shows!
“Despite a combined eight hours of air time on Wednesday, all three network morning shows ignored the revelation that 6400 ‘lost’ e-mails from ex-IRS official Lois Lerner have been found. On cable, Fox News anchor Bill Hemmer alerted viewers, reminding, ‘The IRS claimed the emails were lost when learner’s computer crashed three years ago. They will now be examined by the Senate Finance Committee.'”
Lerner has been accused by the right-wing fever-swamp of spearheading a scheme on behalf of the Obama administration to use the IRS to target conservatives. Her activities have also led more level-headed elements to raise more level-headed questions. In any case, the recovery of the emails is a good thing but it isn’t, in itself, much of a story. The story will be what they reveal.
Whitlock jumps the gun on that point in a most spectacular way:
“ABC’s Good Morning America, NBC’s Today and CBS This Morning all avoided this development. Instead, the networks made time for frivolous, unimportant topics. Rather than focus on an attempt to cover-up government targeting of conservative groups, GMA devoted four minutes to this: ‘Stranded on a deserted Island: Four keys to staying alive.'”
Key #1: If you load you conclusions into your premise, there may not be anyone else on the island to point it out but you’ll still be a dumbass.


[Note: This article was written for MRC Watch, a blog dedicated to a critique of the Media Research Center]

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Houck’s Complaint About Soundbites Bites

MRC Watch Dept. -  In recounting tonight’s network evening news coverage of the gay marriage case presently before the Supreme Court, Curtis Houck identified and complained about a disparity in soundbites.

In the report that ran on the NBC Nightly News, justice correspondent Pete Williams, recounts Houck, “played two soundbites from Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Antonin Scalia in support of traditional marriage but three from other justices expressing doubt for that argument.” Meanwhile, over on the CBS Evening News, justice correspondent Jan Crawford “aired three soundbites from justice[s] for gay marriage compared to just two in favor of traditional marriage.”

Given Williams’ tally of where the court’s justices seem to stand — he says there seems to be “a bare 5-to-4 majority in favor over same-sex marriage” — this split would seem appropriate. When it comes to the general population, support for gay marriage is overwhelming. In a portion of tonight’s ABC News report on the case, anchor David Muir points out that support is, by the ABC News/Washington Post poll, currently at 61%. Houck goes through Muir’s set-up but, unsurprisingly, leaves out that part (though the video clip that accompanies his article leaves it in). More broadly, most Americans have supported some form of official recognition of homosexual unions for over a decade.[*] This is the mainstream view, regardless of whether Houck edits it out of his story, and it and William’s take on the mood of the court renders rather absurd Houck’s complaint about an imbalance in soundbites.



[*] ABC’s Muir gets this wrong, as so many press outlets have. The 2004 poll he cites for comparison purposes shows 62% opposed to gay marriage. The word “marriage” was, for many years, a stumbling-block in polling on this issue. If respondents at the time of that older poll were only offered the option of “marriage,” a majority were opposed, but if respondents were offered the option of “civil unions” alongside “marriage”–as they were in the CBS News/New York Times polling–support for official recognition was overwhelming. An overwhelming majority going back at least to 2004. Over time, people just became more comfortable with using the word “marriage” to describe it.

[Note: This article was written for MRC Watch, a blog dedicated to a critique of the Media Research Center]

An Interview & A Kyle Drennen Tale of an Interview

MRC Watch Dept. - Monday, NBC offered the national platform of its “Today” show to Peter Schweizer, the conservative activist and author of the forthcoming anti-Hillary Clinton book “Clinton Cash.” Though this proved to be, by any serious estimation, a laughably softball interview that allowed Schweizer to repeat his anti-Clinton allegations without any serious challenge, even the mild questioning offered the author by host Savannah Guthrie proved to be too much for the MRC’s Kyle Drennen, who portrayed the host as a Clinton parrot worried about the harm Schweizer’s book may cause to Clinton’s candidacy.

Guthrie opened:
“Before we get into some of the details, let’s put it bluntly. Are you hoping that this book and the issues you raise in it torpedo her candidacy?”
Given that Schweizer has spent his entire adult life as a conservative activist and Republican operative,[1] it’s a fairly obvious question; Drennen characterized it thusly: “Guthrie worried about the political fallout for Hillary Clinton.” Schweizer replied that his book “is not really motivated to her candidacy, we’re just interested in transparency.” In the face of this extremely dubious claim, Guthrie failed to bring up Schweizer’s past; Drennen merely parrots Schweizer’s reply. As revealed at the end of the interview, Guthrie was aware that Schweizer’s next target was Jeb Bush. Bush has been largely absent from public life for nearly a decade but when he emerged as the frontrunner in the upcoming race for the Republican presidential nomination, his resistance to using immigration to race-bait made him a hate-figure among the right’s ideological jihadists.  The fact that Schweizer is critically writing about him would seem rather relevant to Schweizer’s answer about the Clinton book. If Guthrie connected those dots in her head, she failed to do so on the air.

As documented by the pro-Clinton press watchdog Media Matters,[2] a lot of Schweizer journalism has proven rather shoddy over the years. Among other things, he has a long history making sensational yet dubious, misleading and false allegations against Democratic political figures. Press outlets that report them often end up writing retractions. Various media outlets have already poked holes in “Clinton Cash.” At least one of his more explosive claims — about Clinton facilitating the sale of an uranium mine to Russian interests — has already been largely discredited, and Schweizer has repeatedly conceded — just as he tacitly does in the Today interview — that he can’t prove his allegations. This raises the question of why a national news network would bother hosting him at all, but as this is a question that bears rather too closely on the MRC’s overarching project of portraying the press as irredeemably liberal, Drennen doesn’t touch it. And in spite of this history, Schweizer was allowed, during the interview, to make claims about Clinton without any serious challenge. Guthrie at one point asks him point blank, “Do you have any specific instance in which Hillary Clinton directly intervenes on behalf of donors to the Clinton foundation?” Schweizer replied:
“Well, it’s a great question, Savannah. What we have is a pattern of behavior. I was not in any of these meetings. I can’t look into Hillary Clinton’s mind. I certainly can’t look at her e-mails. So the question becomes what is this pattern? And this pattern consistently shows that donors give large sums of money to the foundation or they pay Bill Clinton a lot for a speech, there’s a policy action that’s taken to the benefit of that donor. In some of those instances Hillary Clinton is actually reversing course on previous policy positions.”
That, if you’re keeping score, is a complete failure to answer the question. Schweizer not only declined to offer up a single specific instance, he significantly inflated the initial allegation he’d just declined to substantiate. This is just a smear and Guthrie didn’t follow up on either point. Elsewhere in the interview, Guthrie says,
“You start off by mentioning that you’ve done bipartisan investigations. But a lot of your critics say, ‘Look, you are a conservative and that this is a right-wing hit job.’ Are you really claiming to be neutral here?”
While the question elicited a substantive response (“I’m not claiming to be neutral.”), Drennen takes offense at it, demagogically describing it as “Guthrie parroted Clinton campaign talking points smearing Schweizer.” He apparently took no offense, however, at Schweizer’s refusal to answer the question about specifics or Schweizer’s “reply” amounting to nothing more than tossing out even larger unsubstantiated allegations. For Drennen, those apparently aren’t smears. Guthrie’s failure to follow up on those points goes unmentioned in Drennen’s evaluation of her performance. This is how Drennen characterizes Guthrie’s questions about whether Schweizer believes Clinton could be criminally prosecuted for any of the allegations he’s made: “Guthrie downplayed the scandal by casting doubt on whether a criminal corruption case could be made against the Clintons.”

It’s unfortunate that some allegations that are probably legitimate and important public issues will end up in the stew of someone like Schweizer, where the association will probably discourage both any significant inquiry and taking them at all seriously. The corporate press is usually quite enthusiastic about any chance to loudly broadcast any anti-Clinton story, no matter how baseless or thinly sourced–this Today segment is a great example. This contributes to the same problem.

As for Drennen, his article is standard MRC reality control, just another not-particularly-outstanding example of why the MRC is properly regarded as a Ministry of Truth operation rather than a serious media critic.



[1] Schweizer was a speechwriter for George Bush Jr. and a foreign policy consultant for Sarah Palin. He’s the “senior editor-at-large” for, one of the worst, most partisan (and least credible) right-wing sites on the internet. And so on.

[2] Media Matters has done some important work on “Clinton Cash,” but it has also, in this author’s view, injured its credibility, veering at times into active misrepresentation in an effort to defend Hillary Clinton (of whom MM’s founder David Brock is a confessed fan). ThinkProgress, for example, obtained an advance copy of the book and reported that
“Though Schweizer is unable to provide direct evidence that State Department actions were influenced by Clinton Foundation donations, he does raise questions about unsavory donors and possible conflicts of interest, regardless of whether or not they dictated Clinton’s policy.”
TP’s Aviva Shen notes that Schweizer can’t prove his allegations and discovered that the author
“fingers Bill Clinton’s speaking fees, a favorite target in conservative circles, as a potential avenue to influence Hillary. He links the timing of the State Department’s generally positive report on the Keystone XL Pipeline with a slew of Clinton speeches paid for by TD Bank, a major shareholder in the project. As proof of how crucial Clinton’s support for the pipeline was to the bank, Schweizer quotes a press release that claimed TD Bank would ‘begin selling its $1.6 billion worth of shares in the massive but potentially still-born Keystone XL crude pipeline project’ after Clinton left office. The press release was quickly revealed to be fake in 2013. Yet Schweizer, apparently unaware of the hoax, remarks, ‘Too bad for TD Bank. But the Clintons got paid regardless.'”
In its recounting of the TP article though, Media Matters focuses only on TP’s criticism of the book, omitting any talk of legitimate questions about “unsavory donors and possible conflicts of interest.”

The same thing happened when ABC News reviewed the book:
"An independent review of source material by ABC News uncovered errors in the book, including an instance where paid and unpaid speaking appearances were conflated. Schweizer said the errors would be corrected. But those same records supported the premise that former President Clinton accepted speaking fees from numerous companies and individuals with interests pending before the State Department."
In recounting this, Media Matters notes the critical portion but omits the rest. This kind of raw and apparently uncritical boosterism for a political candidate, taken to the point of misrepresentation, is out of character for the org and quite unbecoming. The corporate press needs critical watchdogs more than Hillary Clinton needs unofficial publicists.

[Note: This article was written for MRC Watch, a blog dedicated to a critique of the Media Research Center]

Monday, April 27, 2015

Drennen Gets It Wrong on “Soros-Funded” Expert

MRC Watch Dept. - Kyle Drennen thinks a “Soros-Funded Expert Changes Tune: Clinton Foundation a ‘Slush Fund.'” Last week, Drennen and Curtis Houck followed a particularly dismal MRC practice in deploying the anti-Semitic Puppet Master trope, dismissing the Sunlight Foundation’s Bill Allison, the expert in question, as merely a mouthpiece for wealthy Jewish philanthropist George Soros.

Today, Drennen recounts that, in a soundbite aired Thursday and Friday on NBC, Allison was “dismissing the Clinton Foundation scandal: ‘There’s no smoking gun, there’s no evidence that she changed a policy based on the donations to the foundation.'”:
“However, as reported in Sunday’s New York Post, Allison seemed to change his mind, now describing the nonprofit as ‘a slush fund for the Clintons.'”
Drennen declines to outline how this brief quote can possibly be regarded as a change of tune–it’s obviously possible that both the Foundation is a slush-fund and the allegations now circulating around it lack any substantial evidentiary basis. As detailed here Saturday, the Sunlight Foundation is, contrary to the MRC writers’ comments, extremely critical of Hillary Clinton and of the apparent shadiness of some of the dealings surrounding the Clinton Foundation. That earlier article quoted a blog post written by Allison last month:
“A trio of super PACs — Priorities USA Action, American Bridge and Ready for Hillary — are promoting Hillary Clinton. One of them, Ready for Hillary, successfully fended off a complaint to the FEC last month over its purchase of the mailing list compiled by Clinton’s last presidential campaign. The FEC concluded that the sale by Clinton’s 2008 campaign, which comprised names of her donors and supporters, to a super PAC promoting her 2016 campaign did not require Clinton to register as a federal candidate.
“That decision has allowed Clinton — and the two floors’ worth of close associates she brought with her from the State Department — to continue her work with the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation undisturbed, an organization that takes funds, sometimes in multi-million dollar chunks, from foreign governments, foreign corporations and foreign individuals, among others.”
Allison was writing about the Clinton Foundation years ago. A blog post from 2009: “Digging down deep into the list of Clinton Foundation donors, the New York Times finds that a donor had gotten considerable help from Sen. Hillary Clinton.” It concludes by asking, “How many other donors to the foundation also had business before the junior senator from New York?” Two days later, Allison followed up, citing that earlier entry and a story in Forbes about donations to the Clinton Foundation from Iranian interests to argue in favor of a bill requiring more stringent disclosure of donors to presidential libraries. Months before that,
Bill Allison and Larry Makinson of Sunlight created a DabbleDB database of the Clinton Foundation donor list released yesterday. This database is the place to go if you’re interested in pouring through this data without trying to access the constantly crashing – thanks to the journalist/blogger stampede – Clinton Foundation web site. (It’s as though journalists and bloggers have this obsession with the Clintons. Who knew?) And just to make sure we cover all our bases, here’s a quote from Bill (emphasis mine):
“I should also note that disclosing this information isn't required by any law (but should be); the Obama transition and the Clintons themselves deserve some marks for releasing the information. But all these donations to presidential foundations–for Bushes as well as Clinton (and Carter) should be publicly disclosed.”
The lesson here is that, while anti-Semitic tropes can inflame and excite those moved by such rot, they provide no basis for understanding the real world.


[Note: This article was written for MRC Watch, a blog dedicated to a critique of the Media Research Center]

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Special Report: George Soros, Anti-Semitism & the Media Research Center

MRC Watch Dept. - On Thursday, the NBC Nightly News devoted a segment to detailing allegations found in an upcoming book (“Clinton Cash”) that, as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton helped facilitate the sale of an American-owned uranium mine to Russian interests to the benefit of donors to the Clinton Foundation. The MRC’s Curtis Houck spotlighted the piece, but objected to the fact that the segment included an “expert” — Houck put the word in quotes — from the Sunlight Foundation, which, he wrote,
“has received funding from left-wing billionaire George Soros… To no one’s surprise, the expert parroted some pro-Clinton talking points: ‘There is no smoking gun. There’s no evidence that she changed a policy based on, you know, the donations to the foundation.'”
The next day, Kyle Drennen objected to how “NBC keeps trying to dismiss Clinton Foundation scandal with Soros-funded ‘expert,'” and relates how,
“After using an ‘ethics expert’ from the Sunlight Foundation – an organization funded by left-wing billionaire George Soros – to dismiss the Clinton Foundation scandal on Thursday’s NBC Nightly News, correspondent Andrea Mitchell appeared on Friday’s Today using the same so-called expert… to reject corruption allegations against Bill and Hillary Clinton.”
Founded by lawyer and businessman Michael Klein and Ellen Miller of the Center for Responsive Politics, the Sunlight Foundation is a D.C.-based public interest group dedicated to increasing government transparency. In short, just the sort of people a journalist would consult on a question like this. The Foundation’s mission is, of course, inherently liberal, but contrary to the crude implication in the MRC articles, Sunlight certainly isn’t any sort of Clinton or Obama apologist — it, in fact, regularly attacks both for the same shady practices deplored by the MRC. The Foundation is funded by a variety of sources, but the one funding source about which the MRC wanted its readers to know, the one both its writers took pains to say made the Sunlight expert an “expert” who can be regarded as discredited merely as a consequence of the connection, is the rich Jew George Soros.

The Puppet Master is, of course, a stock anti-Semitic trope, a dark, racist conspiracy fantasy about evil, wealthy Jews who pull the strings from the shadows, manipulating events in our world to their own sinister ends. In propaganda, the Puppet Master is often depicted as an octopus, its crafty tentacles creeping their way into everything. It’s proven depressingly long-lived, deployed over the years by everyone from the Russian Tsars to the Third Reich to the lunatic fringe here at home. And when, in recent decades, the American conservative elite began to mainstream elements of that lunatic fringe, the fringe brought the trope with them. For those unscrupulous enough to engage in this despicable breed of racist dog-whistling, Soros, a wealthy philanthropist who gives generously to various liberal causes, has proven a lightning rod. On Fox News, both Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly have prominently blown this tune,[1] but few have devoted as many words over as long a period to inflame and delight these particular low-dogs as the Media Research Center.

The MRC, in fact, maintains an entire subdivision dedicated to this project, dubbed, appropriately enough, “The Soros Project.” It grinds out rubbish like this “special report” entitled “George Soros: Godfather of the Left.” Written by Dan Gainor and Iris Somberg and principally concerned with putting Soros’s fingers in every conceivable pie while treating this as, in itself, sinister, the ponderous piece is astonishingly sloppy, even by MRC standards — little more than a compendium of anti-Soros allegations, wild assertions and data points reduced to a hopeless mess by the authors’ refusal to contextualize or demonstrate the relevance of the various items they outline, their constant delving into marginal tangents and asides, their failure to substantiate or even significantly evaluate most of what they relay and their complete lack of any focus beyond a caveman’s grunt of “Soros Bad.”

The claim in the article’s preface that Soros has helped “foment revolutions” is certainly eye-catching. And in the entire painfully lengthy article, this is the sole item Gainor and Somberg offer to substantiate it:
“In 2004, ‘two young me threw water and mayonnaise at him’ in Ukraine, accusing Soros of trying to push a ‘velvet revolution’ just like had happened in Georgia, reported the BBC.”
Soros is accused, at one point, of being “pro-government controlled media”; the authors offer nothing to support that one either (and, in fact, Soros projects have spent years battling state-controlled media apparatuses in repressive regimes around the world).

It’s true, as the article says, that Soros was “convicted of insider dealing in France and fined $3 million.” It’s also true, though entirely unmentioned by the authors, that the French regulator declined to pursue Soros on the matter on the grounds that the anti-insider trading laws in question were, in the words of Bloomberg News, “too vague to determine whether he’d broken them.” Soros’s lawyer, citing this fact, asserted, “It is inconceivable to expect that the citizen has a better understanding of the law than the authority in charge.” The European Court of Human Rights, who heard Soros’s appeal and eventually upheld the conviction, decided Soros was an experienced businessman and should have known better, and that’s probably true. It’s also true — and also unmentioned by the authors — that no one in French history had ever been prosecuted under the law used to nab Soros.

Did you know that Soros’s grants to Bard College included some that went to “a Palestinian youth group and an initiative to educate prisoners across the country”? Gainor and Somberg certainly want you to know it. They first bring it up as support for their notion, expressed in a subheading, that “Soros Indoctrinates Students Around the World.” Then only four paragraphs down, they write, “Programs at Bard include a Palestinian youth group, an initiative to educate prisoners across the country…” Then, a little further down:
“The grants to Bard College show exactly what type of efforts Soros gives to in order to train student activists. Programs at Bard include a Palestinian youth group, an initiative to educate prisoners across the country, and various other groups for ‘community service and social action.'”
And they’re not done with it yet — further still, they bring up that youth group again and quote the youth groups “about us” page:
“Their about us section states that they want ‘civil engagement, cultural exchange, and education are the fundamental means to building a viable and sustainable Palestinian state.’ Below they describe the TLS as a program that ‘encourages and supports students to do challenging, even brazen acts of world change.'”
Real subversive stuff, eh? Equally so is the prison initiative, which then makes yet another appearance, described as “a degree program held in five New York correctional facilities. They provide degree programs for incarcerated men and women and created the Consortium for the Liberal Arts in Prison to promote similar programs around the country.”

Another cited example of how Soros indoctrinates students: “One professor at CEU [Central European University, which Soros founded] praised the Occupy movement combining environmentalism, feminism, the labor movement, and social justice.” Goodness gracious alive! Four paragraphs down, we again hear about how that professor “proudly described how the [Occupy] movement combined feminism, environmentalism, social justice, and the labor movement all under one roof.” And yes, further along, it’s repeated again, nearly word-for-word, followed by, “Praise for the extreme views of the Occupy movement came from one program director.” Is this the same professor? It would appear to be so! Gainor and Somberg outline a video in which she was featured: “Earlier in the video, she praised the Occupy movement for combining the environmental, social justice, feminist, and labor movements to talk about issues that ‘really mattered.'”

The authors describe the dastardly mission of the Central European University:
“CEU [Central European University] is dedicated to promoting Soros’s idea of an open society and ‘that professors and students could be recruited internationally to build a new and unique institution, one that would train future generations of scholars, professionals, politicians and civil society leaders to contribute to building open societies and democracies throughout the region and beyond.'”
Other horrors: In 2011, one of the school’s intellectual themes was “the social responsibility of academia,” which the authors denounce as “this indoctrination,” without offering so much as a word to substantiate the charge. Unforgivably, the university hosted lectures by Soros himself — its founder. Its president John Shattuck “described the universities mission as one to promote open societies around the world, ‘CEU is committed to provide intellectual support for building and strengthening open and democratic societies that respect human rights.'” And so on.[2] Reasonable observers could be forgiven for failing to find much of anything terribly sinister in any of this, and if the dependence on constant repetition leaves one with the impression there exists a distinct sparsity of facts to support the authors’ premise, well, one is paying attention.[3]

Gainor and Somberg tell us that “while Soros has even been nominated for Nobel Peace Prize, many governments have viewed him as the enemy.” And what governments are those? Astonishingly, the authors proceed to offer up a laundry-list of charges against Soros made by authoritarian regimes. The witnesses for the prosecution include Belarus, Croatia, Albania, Serbia (under war criminal Slobodan Milošević), Malaysia and Russia. The politically-motivated, often outlandish charges they’ve flung at Soros over the years are repeated largely without any critical evaluation[4] and without giving readers any indication of the corrupt, repressive nature of these governments. Elsewhere, the authors assert that “there’s been lots of negatives in Soros’s past as he’s spread his influence around the world” and snipe at Soros because he “wears criticism like a badge of honor,” but that Soros’s work on behalf of free and open societies has earned the enmity of these regimes is highly commendable. Gainor and Somberg treat them as a stain on his character — an item on his rap-sheet.

In outlining some of Soros’s philanthropy, the authors engage in an orgy of numbers porn. Soros spent millions-of-dollars here, Soros spent billions there. The numbers are both overlapping (a fact the authors obscure) and are, like so much else, repeated and repeated — huge figures filling their pages. That makes it particularly amusing when they turn to electoral politics and try to tie their target to that black guy in the White House:
“When you like a product, you give it your stamp of approval – whether it’s the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval or the USDA imprint on food. But if you love a product, then you pony up the cash… There’s no product the Soros family likes better than Obama. The Democratic president has received more money from Soros and his kin than any other political candidate in the last 11 years – $16,000 and counting. They gave an additional $250,000 to the inauguration fund, with five members of the family each giving the maximum contribution of $50,000.”
That Soros sure does love Obama, doesn't he? I’m sure Obama, who raised more than $1.7 billion in his presidential races, was touched by that $16,000. The authors dismiss Soros’s assertion that he doesn't involve himself very heavily in electoral politics while still telling us that whopping figure, combined with the inauguration fund donations — the cumulative amount given to Obama by not only Soros but Soros’s entire family — marks Obama as the candidate who has received more Soros money than any other. Soros the Puppet Master is deceitful and operates from the shadows; while he “has claimed he tried to stay out of domestic political turmoil, his political donations show otherwise… Soros just wanted to give the appearance of distance.”

Much larger than the Obama contributions is $550 million Soros is said to have given to liberal causes from 2001 to 2009. One suspects a rather broad definition of “liberal causes” in that accounting but that’s of little importance here. Some basic facts about the nature of the recipients of this largesse in comparison with the MRC’s treatment of same help underscore that the MRC’s invocation of Soros is merely anti-Semitic dog-whistling. Most of the groups that make up this seeming infinity of orgs are, broadly, liberal but each has its own individual mission, its own staff, its own goals.[5] Sometimes those goals are similar, sometimes they’re in conflict.[6] For some, Soros money pays most of the bills; for others, the Soros contribution to their budget is relatively insignificant. Soros doesn’t direct their affairs. He exercises no control whatsoever over the overwhelming majority of them. They are independent entities — that’s reality. But they’re diligently treated by the MRC as one entity: George Soros. The MRC’s persistent implication is that they’re under the direction of George Soros, serving the evil agenda of George Soros and entirely discredited by the association with George Soros, no matter how tenuous that association may be. When Gainor and Somberg write about Soros’s contributions to media outlets, they describe it as “his extensive network of liberal media outlets” — he is the Puppet Master and “his hold over the American political left is especially strong.” The MRC’s stomping-ground is the U.S. — furthering that same imagery is the only reason Gainor and Somberg spend so much time and space on some Hungarian university. The MRC regularly indulges in a basic fallacy of suggesting any source that is liberal — typically defined as anything not of the MRC’s particular breed of far-right-ness — is inherently without credibility or merit. Yet when discussing orgs that have received funding from Soros, its writers never fail to wave the Soros voodoo fetish, displaying it prominently in their headlines.

To overtly state the screamingly obvious, the MRC’s treatment of Soros is not rational. Nothing about it can be defended as such. And that’s precisely the point — it isn’t meant to be.
This week’s invocation of Soros by Houck and Drennen is a case-study.

The Sunlight Foundation, being all about transparency, helpfully lists its funding sources online. Looking over its last two full years, these sources are many and varied. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Rockefeller Family Fund, the Ford Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation — there are over 100 named in only a two-year period. Soros foundations are there, but they make up a relatively small portion of it. In 2013, Soros’s Open Society Foundations and Foundation to Promote Open Society offered $175,000; in 2014, Soros foundations contributed far less, a little over $40,000. By contrast, Omidyar Network (established by Ebay founder Pierre Omidyar) ponied up over $4.5 million in that same two-year period, the Knight Foundation over $2.2 million and Sunlight founder Michael Klein himself contributed more than $1.3 million.

Yet Houck and Drennen focus on one rich Jew as the source of Sunlight’s funding, describing the org as “Soros-funded” (in both headlines), “an organization funded by left-wing billionaire George Soros”, an org “which has received funding from left-wing billionaire George Soros.” Sunlight’s Bill Allison is described as “Soros-backed,” his views discredited by the association — he’s ridiculed as an “expert” (the word placed in quotes) and a “so-called expert.”

Sunlight has been very critical of both Hillary Clinton and Obama for many of the practices the MRC itself decries. A recent Sunlight blog entry salutes Republican presidential candidate (and MRC darling) Ted Cruz for becoming “the first major presidential candidate from either party to start playing by the presidential rules” while condemning both Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton for declining to officially announce their candidacies in order to continue shady campaign practices. The Clinton Foundation’s fundraising, the very burr up the MRC’s butt in the Houck and Drennen articles, is singled out for attention:
"By contrast, all but declared candidates like former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush can, and do, raise money in huge chunks. Because Bush has not uttered, tweeted or otherwise expressed the magic words, he’s able to ask donors for contributions of $25,000, $100,000 or more for his Right to Rise super PAC (Sunlight’s Party Time shows quite a few examples). Part of Bush’s strategy for winning the nomination is a campaign of shock and awe fundraising; should he declare his candidacy, he’d have to leave the six- and seven-figure solicitations to others.
"A trio of super PACs — Priorities USA ActionAmerican Bridgeand Ready for Hillary — are promoting Hillary Clinton. One of them, Ready for Hillary, successfully fended off a complaint to the FEC last month over its purchase of the mailing list compiled by Clinton’s last presidential campaign. The FEC concluded that the sale by Clinton’s 2008 campaign, which comprised names of her donors and supporters, to a super PAC promoting her 2016 campaign did not require Clinton to register as a federal candidate.
"That decision has allowed Clinton — and the two floors’ worth of close associates she brought with her from the State Department — to continue her work with the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation undisturbed, an organization that takes funds, sometimes in multi-million dollar chunks, from foreign governments, foreign corporations and foreign individuals, among others."
Another blog notes that, while the Obama administration “has made some strides in making government records more accessible,” it “has picked up where its predecessor left off in stonewalling the media, avoiding disclosure and thwarting accountability”:
“Take its treatment of email. In addition to Hillary Clinton’sprivate server, there is former Environmental Protection Agency administrator Lisa Jackson, who used the nom de pixel Richard Windsor for her email correspondenceto evade FOIA requests. (In what must be some kind of record for government ineptitude, the EPA gave Richard Windsor anethics award.) The Internal Revenue Service’s series ofclaims as to the disposition of Tea Party targeter Lois Lerner’s emails turned out to be no longer operative, while the president himself invoked executive privilege to shield from disclosure emails sent by Attorney General Eric Holder relevant to the Fast and Furious scandal.”
Regular readers of the MRC will recognize many of these as longrunning causes célèbres of the org. And the article continues to list even more Sunlight grievances against the administration.

But, as mentioned earlier, Houck, in discussing Sunlight’s Bill Allison, threw in the Soros association then wrote, “To no one’s surprise, the [Sunlight] expert parroted some pro-Clinton talking points” — Allison, you see, is just a mouthpiece for the Puppet Master.

Allison, by the way, authored both of the blog posts just quoted.

This same irrationality permeates all of the MRC’s anti-Soros commentary.

When rolling out Soros as a magnet for its own fundraising, the MRC’s rhetoric is savage, unambiguously referring to him as “The Master Puppeteer”:
“George Soros has spent an astounding $52 million building the ‘Soros Web’ — a vast array of organizations and associations dedicated to wiping freedom and democracy off the face of the earth. “These Soros legions are riddled with hundreds of America’s most well-known media personalities, including CNN’s David Gergen and Christiane Amanpour and the New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson. They represent only a tiny percentage of elite media leftists who are associated in one way or another with a Soros-funded entity. He is the puppet master of the liberal media.”
The assertion about Soros’s goal is, of course, laughable,[7] but insofar as the ugly anti-Semitic appeal, it can at least be said that the MRC knows its audience.



[1] Beck, in an example that became notorious, took to his incredibly popular Fox News show in 2010 to launch an extended attack on Soros, not only portraying him as a Puppet Master but openly calling him a “puppet master.” Never one for subtlety, Beck fired off this first of what would become several volleys at Soros on the anniversary of Kristallnacht, the Nazi kickoff to the Holocaust. Only last month, Bill O’Reilly–the host of the top-rated show on Fox News–was plumbing the same dismal depths:
“Soros has now taken his ill-gotten gains and is financing the most radical left-wing organizations in America. He is the shadow puppet master behind corrupt far-left groups like Media Matters. Soros has his tentacles into political organizations like the Center for American Progress, which has provided operatives for the Obama administration, some of whom are now going over to Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Few Americans even know who Soros is, but the 84-year old uber-leftist is behind much of the political strife in this country.”
[2] For all the time Gainor and Somberg devote to it, Central European University — as the name itself informs us — isn’t even an American institution. It’s based in Soros’s native Hungary. Soros himself founded it and it’s the primary recipient of his donations to higher education. The authors quote Soros as saying that, “as a general rule I do not support higher education in the United States,” then write that “this is inherently false seeing as  Soros gave more than $100 million to U.S. universities.” But by their own figures, 3/4 of that total went to only one institution, his ex-wife’s home base at Bard College. Elsewhere, they write that, “together, CEU and Bard received roughly 75 percent of Soros’s total [education] contributions.” In their frequent tangents and asides, the authors try to compare the global educational spending of Soros to educational spending in the U.S. by the oil billionaire Koch brothers, inevitably managing, in the process, to distort and misrepresent the criticism leveled at the latter.

[3] The authors will throw in just about any anti-Soros story they can find, no matter how minor:
“He ran into trouble in Thailand in 1997, as well. ‘The financier George Soros canceled a speech in Bangkok in February when protesters, including some respected local businesspeople, threatened to pelt him with rotten eggs and fruit.'”
And two paragraphs later:
“The next day he had to cancel a trip to Thailand ‘after protestors threatened to pelt him with rotten eggs and excrement.'”
[4] The authors’ only real stab at a critical evaluation of these charges comes when they relate Soros’s public battle with Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad. The authors relate that the attacks against Soros in that case “also were laced with anti-Semitism and easily discredited.” No irony at all there, eh? If these attacks were so “easily discredited,” why bring them up at all? And that this is the only listed item in this section of the “special report” that the authors challenge suggests, of course, that the other listed items from equally disreputable sources are credible.

[5] And while they advocate for their particular causes, they don’t, as a rule, engage in electoral politics. They have their own separate and distinct missions — the Center for Responsive Politics tracks money in politics, MapLight correlates donations to politicians with how those politicians vote, the Drug Policy Alliance works toward ending the War On Drugs — but they’re not out pimping some candidate or politician.

[6] Several of the prominent Soros-funded orgs, for example, strongly oppose the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling and seek to overturn it; the ACLU, which last year received the largest single grand in its history from Soros’s Open Society Foundations, is one of the most prominent supporters of that ruling in the U.S.

[7] The notion that Soros is out to wipe out freedom is interesting, given that one of the MRC’s big gripes, as expressed by Gainor and Somberg, is that “the Soros network is laughably left-wing: pro-abortion, pro-euthanasia, pro-gay marriage, pro-drug legalization, pro-union,” etc. — in a phrase, pro-freedom. Something that makes the MRC laugh. Soros has a curious way of going about eradicating democracy as well–he spends several times more on democracy-promotion than the U.S. government’s own National Endowment for Democracy.

[Note: This article was written for MRC Watch, a blog dedicated to a critique of the Media Research Center]