It was not a happy Valentine's Day for the Heartland Institute's climate change denial campaigns. First, Heartland's plans for a $75,000 K-12 reeducation curriculum to turn America's children into climate change deniers was leaked to the DeSmog Blog along with Heartland's fundraising plan, which reveals support from the Charles G. Koch Foundation and a "free Koch summer intern."
Last week, the Center for Media and Democracy reported on the amusing mistake made by a Politico reporter who misidentified the blue Wisconsin state flag as a "union flag" that signaled President Obama's support for the Wisconsin labor struggle. The story rocketed around the state and caused many chuckles.
President Obama visited Wisconsin today to speak at Master Lock, a union firm that that has brought 100 manufacturing jobs back from China to the United States. Because it was the President's first visit to the state since the historic fight over collective bargaining broke out over one year ago, everyone was watching to see if he would address the controversy or signal his support. Some saw signals where none were intended.
Hundreds of thousands surrounded the Wisconsin State Capitol building a year ago in response and protest of Governor Scott Walker's radical agenda, including his proposed "budget repair bill" to balance the budget on the back of state workers. There to document history in the making, was independent filmmaker Sam Mayfield from Burlington, Vermont. Sam was seen everywhere with her high definition camcorder, at Walker press conferences and climbing though Capitol windows with protesters. In the many months she was in Wisconsin, she obtained hundreds of hours of footage -- often at moments when hers was the only camera present. Among her hundreds of interviews with newsmakers and protesters, the Center for Media and Democracy's Mary Bottari was interviewed for the project on the role that ALEC played in shaping the Walker agenda. "People really need to pay attention to this and start bird-dogging these institutions, these legislators and these corporations and taking back their democracy," Bottari said of ALEC.
Confronted with a report by ProgressVA stating that through the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) corporate lobbyists get access to legislators "behind closed doors," ALEC politician Bill Howell dismissed the claim and told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that all ALEC meetings were open to the public.
That would be breaking news to both traditional press and the online media that have been blocked from ALEC meetings and are increasingly being threatened with arrest.
Contrary to most press accounts, there was a decisive winner in the Iowa caucuses last night, and it was neither Rick Santorum nor Mitt Romney. The "winner" was the so-called "Super" PACs (political action committees), the mutant front groups for political candidates that were "created" in the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court's 5-4 decision that unleashed corporations and billionaires to spend unlimited money influencing elections.
As Time Magazine names 'The Protester' as person of the year, news broke that Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal joins JPMorgan Chase as a major stakeholder in Twitter, the social media network that catapulted both the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street movement onto the global stage.
An epic new book examines the crucial role press and media have played over time in perpetuating racist views in American culture. "News for All the People: The Epic Story of Race and the U.S. Media," by Juan Gonzalez and Joe Torres, examines Americans' chronic discontent with the media. The book reveals how racial segregation in the media has historically distorted the news and gives numerous examples of how publishers and broadcasters have actually encouraged violence towards minorities and ethnic groups through their coverage.
The authors, both seasoned journalists and researchers, note that over the decades Americans have expressed constant frustration with inaccurate news coverage, and the discontent is greatest among people of color, who feel denigrated and deeply misrepresented by the American media system.
Former Republican lobbyist and convicted felon Jack Abramoff, free after serving 43 months in federal prison on corruption charges, will now try and make a living off of his past. Abramoff was a highly influential Washington, D.C. lobbyist who was found guilty in 2006 of bribing public officials and bilking his clients, the Choctaw Indian tribe of Mississippi, out of millions of dollars. He also overbilled his lobbying clients and pocketed the extra money. Abramoff, now 53 years old, broke and unemployed, has established a promotional website and plans to charge for giving talks about corruption in Washington with titles like "How Lobbysits Shape Your Industry" and "Can Congress be Fixed?" Abramoff is also making the rounds on talk shows like "Hannity," "60 Minutes," "The Early Show" and "Piers Morgan Tonight" in an attempt to rebrand himself as a whistleblower against corruption. He has a Facebook page and game app called "Congressional Jack," and a feature film in the works about his lobbying exploits. Abramoff needs to make money fast, since he must pay back over $40 million to the Indian tribe he was convicted of bilking. To assist his media endeavors, Abramoff hired PR specialist Janet Fallon of the Washington, D.C.-based PR firm PR Options to help organize his "redemption tour" and promote his new book, Capitol Punishment, about Washington politics. Prior to establishing PR Options, Fallon worked as media consultant at Weber Shandwick and for Pat Buchanan's 1992 presidential campaign.
An effort by the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity (AFP) to brand a frequent critic as a "liar" has been contradicted by a recording of the alleged deceit. AFP has not issued a retraction.
On November 8, Americans for Prosperity published a blog post on their website titled "Lee Fang Lies: The Real Face of 'Think Progress.'" Fang is a researcher and blogger for Think Progress and has written many articles about the Koch brothers, including about their business practices and lobbying efforts, and about their role in manipulating the Tea Party.