Monday, December 8, 2008

The New Media Alliance - a PR Firm for Fascist Republican Groups

By Alex Constantine

If there was a Most Offensive Right-Wing Propaganda Award, New Media Alliance would win it hands down. The NMA gave us "Haditha Massacre: Media and Terrorist Hoax?" (, which ranks with Holocaust denial for its duplicity, and this bit of tripe, also by Sher Zieve, a staff writer for the NMA:


Iran Poised to Take Over Iraq
By Sher Zieve, New Media Alliance, Sep 01, 07

"As Democrats prepare their refutations of the yet to be presented General Petraeus report on Iraq, Iran’s President Ahmadinejad is already planning his takeover of that country. In the past, Ahmadinejad has encouraged the American people to place Democrat politicians in power. Tragically, for the 2006 midterm elections, Ahmadinejad’s strategy appears to have worked and he is, again, counting on US Democrat leaders to pull the United States out of Iraq - in opposition to all recent reports from both Democrats and Republicans that the surge is working. This will allow him to seize the country. ... "
Wikipedia on the New Media Alliance

The New Media Alliance (NMA) describes itself as "a foundation of Heritage New Media Partners, Inc. established to promote and defend traditional social, political and economic principles nationally." While the NMA describes itself as a 501(c)(3) non-profit group, Heritage New Media Partners is a public relations firm specialising in online advocacy for conservative groups. On its website Heritage New Media describes NMA as "a conservative issue advocacy and information group established to promote and defend traditional social, political and economic principles nationally."


On its website the NMA states that is "currently funded by contributions made by its parent company, Heritage New Media Partners, Inc. and by the gracious gifting of the Alliance members and sponsors who share this renewed vision for America and wish to support us in the ongoing fight for American freedom."

Who the Alliance members and sponsors are is unspecified.
New Media Alliance Founder Gary Schneider

Gary Schneider is president and founder of, "a Conservative policy advocacy group" and the public relations company Heritage New Media Partners. He is the Administrator of The Reality Forums.

Schneider is also listed as the co-ordinator for the North Eastern region of Reality Check On Campus, a PR support service for conservative student groups.

A biographical note states that Schneider received his degree in Government and Russian Studies at Norwich University's Military College of Vermont and later worked in New York as a financial researcher for "for various on-line and print publications used by Wall Street investors." The note states that he has subsequently done financial research for Thomson Financial and Reuters.

"His articles have recently appeared in Americas Voices,,,, The Patriotist,, American Daily and EnterStageRight," the note states.
NMA's Jim Kouri Denounces "Leftists" for Opposing Illegal NSA Wiretaps

Activist Judge Turning Over Top Secret NSA Files to Leftists
by Jim Kouri, CPP

[Biographical note: Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he's a staff writer for the New Media Alliance ( He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others.]

On Thursday, a federal judge decided that Americans' safety and security takes a back-seat to a left-wing groups' right to view and promulgate top secret National Security Agency documents relating to the terrorism surveillance program. In this case, one of the left-wing groups has direct ties to Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), who was forced to step down from his perch on the Senate Intelligence Committee in 1987 over allegations he leaked classified information to news reporters.

Just one lawyer wearing black robes has usurped the authority of the Commander-in-Chief to wage war as he believes it should be waged. As a result of this decision, the US Justice Department is ordered to respond within 20 days to requests by a civil liberties group for documents about President George W. Bush's NSA surveillance program.

The ruling is being heralded by the news media as "a victory for the Electronic Privacy Information Center," which sued the Justice Department under the Freedom of Information Act in seeking the release of classified documents. In other words, an unelected lawyer is using the FIOA to divulge the information gathered during a war to a left-wing group of lawyers, college professors and antiwar activists who will make they documents public. By public, I mean releasing classified information to everyone including terrorists, insurgents, international gangsters and other assorted misfits. ...
A Newsvine user busted a powerful stealth campaign with just a few clicks, and a simple question. "Why does Newsvine allow political organizations to seed 'astroturf' content?"

He'd discovered a pattern to the way a story's URL had been suggested to the bloggers at Newsvine. The same user had suggested over 470 URLs, each one pointing only to articles on the exact same site.

And more investigation revealed the site could be tied to a powerful PR firm. "It turns out that it is a member of The New Media Alliance…a foundation established by Heritage New Media Partners, Inc., a public relations company," the user argued.

It turns out the URLs were all coming from Frank Salvato, the managing editor of the very web publication being promoted. According to his biography, Salvato is also a commentator who's appeared on radio and TV, including Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor.

Salvato disputes any publicity arrangement with the PR firm. "The fact is that I, alone, made an honest mistake in not thoroughly reading the 'Code of Conduct' at Newsvine before using the venue," Salvato told us. "[O]n a regular basis we rarely received more than a twenty-seven count in traffic from the Newsvine venue…testimony to the notion that we certainly weren't doing it for the traffic."

After making his discovery, the Newsvine user blew the whistle, writing an article for Newsvine. His exposé quickly reached the front page of and became one of the site's most-active stories, receiving over 75 votes. ("Excellent catch," wrote one user. "We definitely cannot allow Newsvine to be used as an advertising base for websites, regardless of their positions…")

Within 90 minutes, his article received a response from Calvin Tang, the site's co-founder and chief operating officer. "Thank you for notifying us of this blatant disregard for the Code of Honor, rule #3," he wrote in the article's comments, reporting that the user has been off the main site and "back into the Greenhouse, pending his acceptance of our request to him that he abide by Newsvine's rules."

Ironically, the user discovering the shenanigans had the user name "Partisan Hack." But he's deadly serious about the site's user community. "If we are to have real citizens' journalism, we need to have some confidence that content being seeded and written in Newsvine has some level of independence and it not being put here at the behest of organizations or causes who want to use Newsvine as 'astroturf' — content that is meant to appear to be coming from the grass roots that is in fact sponsored for political or commercial goals."

Answering coments, Partisan Hack acknowledged a role for groups challenging the conventional wisdom "If they can challenge it openly - not through proxy agents masquerading as individuals," and "in ways that does not leverage their economic power to the disadvantage of a community's citizens."

It's not the first time this has happened. Earlier this month another user discovered a Monsanto publicist on the site promoting a blog lobbying for genetically modified food. ""These groups are free to promote any view they choose but what does it say about their ethics that plants are mixed among users to promote a business agenda? What does it say about the Monsanto strategy that free sites like ours and Yahoo! Answers have professional spin masters supplying corporate PR as opposed to paying to advertise?"

But there's another obvious take-away message. Any community site has an ad hoc legion of watchdogs on patrol — the site's own network of dedicated users. Newsvine reports over 1,000,000 users a month, and was recently acquired by MSNBC. ("[I]t's telling that this is the first acquisition of's 11-year history," the Motley Fool reported.)

Any stealth publicity effort will face resistance from a site's passionate user base, at least judging by the fate of Salvato's original article. It's been replaced by a single 9-word sentence.

"This article has been removed by the Newsvine community."
The New Media Alliance - A Fascist Propaganda Clearinghouse

It is a Section 501(c)(3) organization, a non-profit organization. As stated in The New Media Alliance Web site they manage efforts to provide exposure for sponsored political views:

"Through the managed efforts of our writers and media partners we promote awareness and educate all Americans to the impact of government, educational and traditional media policies and agendas, that have become increasingly repressive and partisan. Our mission is, therefore, to help sustain America’s most basic and cherished freedoms by aggressively empowering conservative thought and perspective."

In other words, the PR from this organization is designed to seed "spin" into the news cycle. How does this relate to The New Media Journal? The New Media Alliance site provides additional information:

"Through our parent company, Heritage New Media Partners, Inc., the NMA is actively engaged with various conservative organizations, think tanks and activist groups which seek talented writers and researchers to perform research or to become involved in media campaigns by writing articles, commentary or news pieces.

The NMA's pool of participating writers are eligible to receive writing or research assignments for such work and will be provided with grant money to do so.

"If you are a writer and would like to be included in the NMA writers pool to receive such assignments, please let us know and you will be contacted for follow-up information."

It appears as if writers working for The New Media Alliance receive "grants" that enable them to write materials for channels such as The New Media Journal - sponsored content, or PR. The New Media Journal does not pay these people directly, so it will have the appearance of "citizen journalism". Instead, it's likely with this network of alliances that "grant" money for these authors is funneled to them indirectly via The New Media Alliance. This enables The New Media Journal to claim that it is only providing an outlet for its contributors, as stated in their site:

"Opinions expressed by contributing writers are expressly their own and may or may not represent the opinions of The New Media Journal, its editorial staff or its publisher. Reprint inquiries should be directed to the author of the article."

It's bad enough that Newsvine is apparently being used regularly as an advertising vehicle for sponsored PR content, but worse yet that it's being done apparently to further political purposes. If we are to have real citizens' journalism, we need to have some confidence that content being seeded and written in Newsvine has some level of independence and it not being put here at the behest of organizations or causes who want to use Newsvine as "astroturf" - content that is meant to appear to be coming from the grass roots that is in fact sponsored for political or commercial goals. ...

I am concerned that there are any number of "astroturf" fronts on Newsvine, but this is the first time that I have seen what appears to be an "astroturf" publishing organization using Newsvine as a publicity outlet on such a broad scale.

Friday, November 28, 2008

For-the-Record "Mainstream" Media Correction: US Blackmailed Iraqis for Deal

" ... Washington echelons repeatedly threatened to overthrow the Iraqi government if they continued their opposition to the security deal ... "

Janaati: Iraq passed US deal out of force
Fri, 28 Nov 2008§ionid=351020101

The Iraqi Parliament was pressured into voting in favor of the US-proposed security agreement, says a senior Iranian official.

A member of Iran's Guardian Council said on Friday that Washington had threatened to topple the Iraqi government if it resisted the security deal and therefore forced the ratification of the controversial agreement.

"Washington echelons repeatedly threatened to overthrow the Iraqi government if they continued their opposition to the security deal," said Tehran's interim Friday prayers leader Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati.

Iraq's al-Morsad reported on Oct. 10 that US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte had warned that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki would be 'ousted' unless he signed the US-proposed security pact.

Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi has also claimed that the Bush administration had threatened to cut off vital services to Baghdad if it further delayed the accord, saying the threats were akin to 'political blackmail'.

"It was really shocking for us…Many people are looking to this attitude as a matter of blackmailing," al-Hashimi said on Oct. 26.

According to Ayatollah Jannati, Iraqi lawmakers approved the bill to safeguard the interests of the war-torn country and drive away potential threats.

The Iraqi Parliament after much deliberation decided on Thursday to approve a controversial security pact with the United States after government concessions to put the agreement to a referendum no later than July 30, 2009.

The deal has met extreme opposition in the oil-rich country as it extends US presence in Iraq for an additional three years and grants Americans immunity from persecution in Iraqi courts.

The agreement had been signed by the Iraqi Cabinet before gaining parliamentary approval and now requires the ratification of Iraq's Presidential Council.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Newt’s ’Gay Fascism’ Comment Slammed

by Kilian Melloy
EDGE Contributor
Nov 26, 2008

Voter approval of a ballot initiative in California, Proposition 8, which rescinded the existing right of gay and lesbian families to marry, has sparked a massive, nation-wide resistance, with almost entirely peaceful demonstrations occurring in 300 cities around America, a new legal challenge to the amendment headed to the California Supreme Court, and a vow to fight, and repeal, the anti-gay measure unifying GLBT organizations.

But the response of gay and lesbian Americans fighting for their families has given far-right wing figures an opportunity to promote neoconservative causes, even at the dawn of the Obama administration and a Democratic White House.

Zeroing in on a few rare, isolated instances in which anti-Prop. 8 demonstrators crossed the line--instances, some say, in which that behavior was provoked by publicity-seeking Prop. 8 supporters--Fox News talk show host Bill O’Reilly and his recent guest, Newt Gingrich, launched a renewed assault against American gay and lesbian families by painting them as "fascists."

This is nothing new. The right--from social conservatives to far-fringe Christian Web outlets--routinely dismiss and demonize gay individuals, families, and organizations as "fascists."

Indeed, such Web outlets sometimes refer to gays as "fascists" and "anarchists" indiscriminately, despite the polar opposition of those political stances.

But Newt Gingrich’s re-emergence, and his embrace of the characterization of gays and lesbians as "fascists" has led to outrage, and to concern--and not just here at home.

In the UK newspaper The Guardian, a Nov. 25 article predicted that Gingrich might rise to power anew, much as he did in the early 1990s, when he exploited white male anger and ushered in an era of Republican Congressional control even as Democratic president Bill Clinton steered the country to a period of prosperity from the White House.

In the current financial meltdown, the aftermath of two terms of Republican president George W. Bush, the voters’ mood has proven volatile: Democratic President-elect Barack Obama has been elected to the White House as much on his mantra of "change" as his well-articulated strategies for economic recovery.

But foundational change will only come gradually, and two years from now, with the 2010 mid-term elections, another Republican sweep is not out of the question, should the American public grow impatient with the drab fact that economic recovery is likely to take years--perhaps decades--and that Obama cannot turn the situation around overnight.

Noted the Guardian article, "Today, [as in 1993] another Democrat is entering the White House with a governing majority in both Houses of Congress.

"And Newt is back, doing what he does best--laying the groundwork for a Republican comeback by preying on the fears of the populace.

"And, who knows, perhaps if he keeps the Democrats from winning an obstruction-proof majority in the Senate, he’s on the road back to real power.

The Guardian article points out that, "Barack Obama may have won the US presidency by a decisive margin, but the strength of his governing majority remains uncertain.

"In two states, Minnesota and Georgia, the results of Senate races have yet to be determined.

"Minnesota’s is headed for a recount and perhaps a court challenge. Georgia’s is headed for a runoff next week."

Notes the article, "Should the Democrats prevail in both contests, they will have the coveted 60-vote majority required for governing with ease.

"A vote shy of 60 on any piece of legislation allows the opposition to hold it up indefinitely by means of a filibuster--a privilege that Republicans wish dearly to retain."

Enter Gingrich, which the article speculates has brought his rhetoric about "fascism," and his targeting of gay and lesbian Americans, always a soft target, to the stage.

In his Nov. 14 appearance on O’Reilly’s program, Gingrich engaged the talk show host over the topic of the anti-Proposition 8 demonstrations.

O’Reilly did not address the overwhelmingly peaceful nature of the protests, but instead cherry-picked an incident in Palm Springs in which an elderly woman carrying a Styrofoam cross pushed her way into the thick of an anti-Prop. 8 candlelight vigil, apparently in an attempt to make her way to a film crew.

The same woman, Phyliss Burgess, had been filmed by that crew five days earlier when she carried a cross into a Gay Pride parade.

Several people in the crowd grew so angry that they snatched the cross from Burgess and stomped it to bits.

That episode of violence has proven a cause celebre for right-wing blogs, Web sites, and now, Bill O’Reilly and Fox news.

Using the highly unusual--and nearly unique--incident as an opportunity to blacken all America’s gays and lesbians, Gingrich declaimed that, "I think there is a gay and secular fascism in this country that wants to impose its will on the rest of us, is prepared to use violence, to use harassment."

Seeking to link the so-called gay "fascists" to the President-Elect, Gingrich continued, "I think it is prepared to use the government if it can get control of it."

Quoting from a familiar religious script used recently by prominent anti-gay figures such as Oklahoma state representative Sally Kern, who compared gays to terrorists and predicted the end of civilization because of the growing acceptance of gays and lesbians, Gingrich went on, "I think that it is a very dangerous threat to anybody who believes in traditional religion.

"And I think if you believe in historic Christianity, you have to confront the fact."

Gingrich’s attempt to link gays with fascism elicited a detailed history lesson from Patricia Nell Warren, who wrote an extensive article on the subject that appeared Nov. 26 at The Huffington Post.

Wrote Warren, "Good grief, Newt Gingrich is ’teaching’ history again.

"On the Bill O’Reilly show the other day, Gingrich came up with his biggest lie about history yet. He said, ’I think there is a gay and secular fascism in this country that wants to impose its will on the rest of us... it is a very dangerous threat to anybody who believes in traditional religion.’

"Wow," continued Warren. "And to think that the real fascists were neither gay nor secular. In fact, the real fascists supported--and were shamelessly supported by--ultra-traditional Christian religion.

"I’m talking mainly about Spain’s Franco, Germany’s Hitler and Italy’s Mussolini, who were the most powerful and destructive figures among European fascist rulers of the 20th century."

Noted Warren, "Hitler himself--who is the focus of American conservatives’ fascistophobia--was born and raised a Catholic, and never left the Catholic Church. Indeed, he encouraged his top leadership people to stay Catholic as well."

In the course of her detailed explanation of what constitutes fascism historically, Warren wrote, "Throughout the 20th century, a number of fascist regimes popped up like thunderheads along the Western horizon, all the way from north Europe to South America.

"They all had certain dark quirks in common. They were totalitarian, right-wing and military--fiercely nationalistic, often expansionist, and enjoyed strong support from wealthy aristocracy, industry and big business."

Warren also cited the Webster’s Dictionary definition of fascism, which, the reference book says, is "a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition."

"But the Webster’s definition carefully avoids mentioning religion," Warren adds. "Yet Europe’s fascist regimes had religious underpinnings.

"Much of Europe’s ultraconservative Christian leadership--notably the Vatican--supported and appeased those 20th-century fascist movements.

"In fact, the tie to conservative Christianity made fascism the sworn enemy of communism, which had stomped on the churches in every country it took over.

"The Christian tie also made fascism obsessively and moralistically controlling of the sexual, reproductive and family lives of its citizens."

Added Warren, "Last but not least, the ’forcible suppression’ of fascist regimes was directed at classes of people that conservative Protestants and Catholics had always hated and feared--notably Jews and homosexuals."

Warren went on to observe, "Americans who believe that Hitler was a ’secular’ and ’pagan’ figure have never bothered to read Mein Kampf.

"Today it’s one of the least-read among history-making books. Copies have been quietly removed from most public and school libraries, so the only place you can find it is online and used-book services.

"And no wonder it’s ignored," Warren added. "When I read it for the first time, I was amazed to see the many invocations of Almighty God, and the admiring mentions of the Holy Roman Empire.

"And comments like the following: ’I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.’"

Warren went on to sketch out the friendly relations between the Catholic church and dictators Franco and Mussolini.

Wrote Warren, "Does my thumbnail portrait of three fascist rulers sound like anything that LGBT activists are standing for? I think not.

"In fact, everything for which our liberal, pluralist, democratic, individualist movement stands is exactly the kind of thing that the real fascists tried to stamp out.

"Now we come to the $64 question. How does a talking head like Newt Gingrich get away with such an appalling lie about history?"

Warren’s article examined the ways in which Hitler and other fascist figures are re-cast today as "Satanic" or anti-Christian, when they promoted themselves as acting in the interests of the Christian faith.

Warren addressed another element of modern revisionism, writing, "As a sideline, conservative media are developing a sub-myth that the Hitler movement itself was ’homosexual.’

"They point to the fact that stormtrooper chief Ernst Rohm’s homosexuality and that of a few of Rohm’s buddies was evidently known to Hitler during the early years.

"However, Hitler’s willingness to use people and institutions--including the Catholic and Lutheran Churches--explains his temporary forbearance in Rohm’s case.

"During the social violence attending the Nazi Party’s rise, Hitler needed Rohm’s muscle to establish and protect himself. Eventually, however, Hitler felt secure enough to get rid of Rohm. During the famous ’Night of the Long Knives,’ the Fuhrer had Rohm and his gay associates massacred."

Wrote Warren, "This event--and the fact that homosexuality was a capital crime under the Nazis, who sent an estimated 100,000 homosexuals, mostly gay men, to the death camps--sends its own clear message.

"The Nazis’ real views on sexual orientation were the same as those of ultra-traditional Christians in the U.S. who want to have all homosexuals put to death."

Warren pointed out that those movements from the mid-20th century have their analogues today: "...these ultra-traditional church activists say openly that they want to take over the United States, get rid of democracy and the Bill of Rights, establish a state religion, invade and occupy other countries, control everybody’s sex lives, and kill any factions that they don’t approve of.

"Some of them are even fiercely anti-Semitic. Indeed, their aims are laid out in their own writings, which can be found and read by anybody who really wants to know what they’re up to."

Gingrich’s half-sister, gay activist Candace Gingrich, published her own essay, in the form of a letter to her brother Newt, in a Nov. 22 article in the Huffington Post.

"Dear Newt," wrote Candace Gingrich, "I recently had the displeasure of watching you bash the protestors of the Prop 8 marriage ban to Bill O’Reilly on FOX News.

"I must say, after years of watching you build your career by stirring up the fears and prejudices of the far right, I feel compelled to use the words of your idol, Ronald Reagan, ’There you go, again.’"

Added Gingrich, "However, I realize that you may have been a little preoccupied lately with planning your resurrection as the savior of your party, so I thought I would fill you in on a few important developments you might have overlooked.

"The truth is that you’re living in a world that no longer exists. I, along with millions of Americans, clearly see the world the way it as--and we embrace what it can be.

"You, on the other hand, seem incapable of looking for new ideas or moving beyond what worked in the past.

"Welcome to the 21st century, big bro."

Gingrich continued, "I can understand why you’re so afraid of the energy that has been unleashed after gay and lesbian couples had their rights stripped away from them by a hateful campaign.

"I can see why you’re sounding the alarm against the activists who use all the latest tech tools to build these rallies from the ground up in cities across the country.

"This unstoppable progress has at its core a group we at HRC call Generation Equality," Gingrich wrote. "They are the most supportive of full LGBT equality than any American generation ever--and when it comes to the politics of division, well, they don’t roll that way."

Gingrich noted that voters between the ages of 18 and 24 voted for Barack Obama, and against Proposition 8, and asserted that, "the numbers of young progressive voters will only continue to grow."

Added Gingrich, "Even older Americans are turning their backs on the politics of fear and demagoguery that you and your cronies have perfected over the years."

Wrote Gingrich, "This is a movement of the people that you most fear. It’s a movement of progress--and your words on FOX News only show how truly desperate you are to maintain control of a world that is changing before your very eyes."

Added Gingrich, "Then again, we’ve seen these tactics before. We know how much the right likes to play political and cultural hardball, and then turn around and accuse us of lashing out first.

"You give a pass to a religious group--one that looks down upon minorities and women--when they use their money and membership roles to roll back the rights of others, and then you label us ’fascists’ when we fight back.

"You belittle the relationships of gay and lesbian couples, and yet somehow neglect to explain who anointed you the protector of ’traditional’ marriage.

"And, of course, you’ve also mastered taking the foolish actions of a few people and then indicting an entire population based on those mistakes."

Wrote Gingrich, "I fail to see how any of these patterns coincide with the values of ’historic Christianity’ you claim to champion."

Gingrich went on to write, "What really worries me is that you are always willing to use LGBT Americans as political weapons to further your ambitions.

"That’s really so ’90s, Newt. In this day and age, it’s embarrassing to watch you talk like that."

Added Gingrich, "In other words, stop being a hater, big bro."

Kilian Melloy reviews media, conducts interviews, and writes commentary for EDGEBoston, where he also serves as Assistant Arts Editor.

Co-opting Intellectual Aggressors - The "Progressive" Face of the CIA

" ... In an attempt to develop a more nuanced understanding of the CIA's role in contemporary society this essay will explore their long-term involvement in utilising ostensibly progressive dissent in the service of imperialism. ... It should not be surprising that the same elites who worked within the upper echelons of both the CIA and the world of liberal philanthropy would ensure that the CIA (which was created in 1947) would play an important role in manipulating progressive social movements globally. ... "

by Michael Barker
Swans Commentary
November 17, 2008

"The CIA offers exciting career opportunities and a dynamic environment. We're on the forefront of world-altering events -- as they happen. So working here isn't just a job, it's a mindset and a lifestyle." — Central Intelligence Agency -- 2008.

"Those who hold power in the society retain control, though they may grant support to dissidents when it suits their immediate purposes... [T]hose in power know precisely why their support is rendered, even if the recipients know neither the reason nor the source." — Dan Schechter, Michael Ansara, and David Kolodney -- 1982. (1)

(Swans - November 17, 2008) Mention the CIA to most historically-informed people and the immediate images that spring to mind are those of assassinations, coups d'état, drug running, and covert wars. On the other hand, those individuals whose understanding of the CIA's work has been stunted, primarily though exposure to the mass media, are more inclined to associate the CIA with bungling over-resourced spies, rogue elephants, or perhaps, in the case of conservatives, as patriotic warriors protecting homeland security. (2) Yet another side to the CIA that is rarely mentioned by progressives, let alone the mainstream media, is their commitment to public activism. By commitment I do not refer to their dedication to infiltrating progressive social movements with informants or agent provocateurs, although this is of course an important aspect of the subterfuge undertaken by the Agency. Instead I refer to the CIA's ongoing efforts to channelling popular dissatisfaction with political processes -- on both a theoretical and grassroots level -- towards support for counterrevolutionary causes. (3) Key organizations that have historically played an important role in helping the CIA's democracy manipulators include the most influential liberal foundations, two prominent examples being the Ford Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation. (4) So in an attempt to develop a more nuanced understanding of the CIA's role in contemporary society this essay will explore their long-term involvement in utilising ostensibly progressive dissent in the service of imperialism.

Like most class-conscious institutions, the CIA is not stupid, although a useful PR purpose is served by presenting their activities as such. Instead the elites managing the upper echelons of the CIA have long understood the power of grassroots activism, and have demonstrated their longstanding fear of the public by industriously working to undermine our ability to effectively cooperate with one another to promote our own best interests. One simple elite method of attacking popular social movements that challenge capitalist interests is to destroy their leaders, firstly by attempting to weaken their legitimacy in the cultural sphere, and when this fails, by resorting to the literal termination of their lives. However, another more proactive, and arguably more effective, strategy to undermine the revolutionary potential of dissent is to co-opt it: a tactic that if taken to its logical extreme involves the manufacture of dissident groups, which pre-empt organic (more radical) grassroots responses to capitalist-driven injustices. This form of political warfare is as old as politics itself; yet as a result of significant plutocratic advances in the early twentieth century, and the ensuing public resistance to these developments, such co-optive strategies were institutionalized within capitalist states in the form of liberal foundations. As Edward Berman notes in his important book The Ideology of Philanthropy: The Influence of the Carnegie, Ford, and Rockefeller Foundations on American Foreign Policy (State University of New York Press, 1983), the goals of such foundations...

It should not be surprising that the same elites who worked within the upper echelons of both the CIA and the world of liberal philanthropy would ensure that the CIA (which was created in 1947) would play an important role in manipulating progressive social movements globally. In this regard it is clear that the leading US-based liberal foundations were not the CIA's unwitting dupes. (8) However, given the progressive image that these liberal philanthropists wish to project to the public, revelations in the late 1960s of their ties to the much maligned CIA led to "reforms" of the CIA's funding relations. In truth these reforms merely catalysed a chain of events that would ensure that the CIA's soft-power politics (philanthropic manipulation) were institutionally isolated from their hard-power politics (which includes their covert military operations). ...


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Public Broadcasting & State Propaganda (2005 NYT Article)

The Armstrong Williams NewsHour
June 26, 2005

HERE'S the difference between this year's battle over public broadcasting and the one that blew up in Newt Gingrich's face a decade ago: this one isn't really about the survival of public broadcasting. So don't be distracted by any premature obituaries for Big Bird. Far from being an endangered species, he's the ornithological equivalent of a red herring.

Let's not forget that Laura Bush has made a fetish of glomming onto popular "Sesame Street" characters in photo-ops. Polls consistently attest to the popular support for public broadcasting, while Congress is in a race to the bottom with Michael Jackson. Big Bird will once again smite the politicians - as long as he isn't caught consorting with lesbians.

That doesn't mean the right's new assault on public broadcasting is toothless, far from it. But this time the game is far more insidious and ingenious. The intent is not to kill off PBS and NPR but to castrate them by quietly annexing their news and public affairs operations to the larger state propaganda machine that the Bush White House has been steadily constructing at taxpayers' expense. If you liked the fake government news videos that ended up on local stations - or thrilled to the "journalism" of Armstrong Williams and other columnists who were covertly paid to promote administration policies - you'll love the brave new world this crowd envisions for public TV and radio.

There's only one obstacle standing in the way of the coup. Like Richard Nixon, another president who tried to subvert public broadcasting in his war to silence critical news media, our current president may be letting hubris get the best of him. His minions are giving any investigative reporters left in Washington a fresh incentive to follow the money.

That money is not the $100 million that the House still threatens to hack out of public broadcasting's various budgets. Like the theoretical demise of Big Bird, this funding tug-of-war is a smoke screen that deflects attention from the real story. Look instead at the seemingly paltry $14,170 that, as Stephen Labaton of The New York Times reported on June 16, found its way to a mysterious recipient in Indiana named Fred Mann. Mr. Labaton learned that in 2004 Kenneth Tomlinson, the Karl Rove pal who is chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, clandestinely paid this sum to Mr. Mann to monitor his PBS bête noire, Bill Moyers's "Now."

Now, why would Mr. Tomlinson pay for information that any half-sentient viewer could track with TiVo? Why would he hire someone in Indiana? Why would he keep this contract a secret from his own board? Why, when a reporter exposed his secret, would he try to cover it up by falsely maintaining in a letter to an inquiring member of the Senate, Byron Dorgan, that another CPB executive had "approved and signed" the Mann contract when he had signed it himself? If there's a news story that can be likened to the "third-rate burglary," the canary in the coal mine that invited greater scrutiny of the Nixon administration's darkest ambitions, this strange little sideshow could be it.

After Mr. Labaton's first report, Senator Dorgan, a North Dakota Democrat, called Mr. Tomlinson demanding to see the "product" Mr. Mann had provided for his $14,170 payday. Mr. Tomlinson sent the senator some 50 pages of "raw data." Sifting through those pages when we spoke by phone last week, Mr. Dorgan said it wasn't merely Mr. Moyers's show that was monitored but also the programs of Tavis Smiley and NPR's Diane Rehm.

Their guests were rated either L for liberal or C for conservative, and "anti-administration" was affixed to any segment raising questions about the Bush presidency. Thus was the conservative Republican Senator Chuck Hagel given the same L as Bill Clinton simply because he expressed doubts about Iraq in a discussion mainly devoted to praising Ronald Reagan. Three of The Washington Post's star beat reporters (none of whom covers the White House or politics or writes opinion pieces) were similarly singled out simply for doing their job as journalists by asking questions about administration policies.

"It's pretty scary stuff to judge media, particularly public media, by whether it's pro or anti the president," Senator Dorgan said. "It's unbelievable."

Not from this gang. Mr. Mann was hardly chosen by chance to assemble what smells like the rough draft of a blacklist. He long worked for a right-wing outfit called the National Journalism Center, whose director, M. Stanton Evans, is writing his own Ann Coulteresque book to ameliorate the reputation of Joe McCarthy. What we don't know is whether the 50 pages handed over to Senator Dorgan is all there is to it, or how many other "monitors" may be out there compiling potential blacklists or Nixonian enemies lists on the taxpayers' dime.

We do know that it's standard practice for this administration to purge and punish dissenters and opponents - whether it's those in the Pentagon who criticized Donald Rumsfeld's low troop allotments for Iraq or lobbying firms on K Street that don't hire Tom DeLay cronies. We also know that Mr. Mann's highly ideological pedigree is typical of CPB hires during the Tomlinson reign.

Eric Boehlert of Salon discovered that one of the two public ombudsmen Mr. Tomlinson recruited in April to monitor the news broadcasts at PBS and NPR for objectivity, William Schulz, is a former writer for the radio broadcaster Fulton Lewis Jr., a notorious Joe McCarthy loyalist and slime artist. The Times reported that to provide "insights" into Conrad Burns, a Republican senator who supported public-broadcasting legislation that Mr. Tomlinson opposed, $10,000 was shelled out to Brian Darling, the G.O.P. operative who wrote the memo instructing Republicans to milk Terri Schiavo as "a great political issue."

Then, on Thursday, a Rove dream came true: Patricia Harrison, a former co-chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, ascended to the CPB presidency. In her last job, as an assistant secretary of state, Ms. Harrison publicly praised the department's production of faux-news segments - she called them "good news" segments - promoting American success in Afghanistan and Iraq. As The Times reported in March, one of those fake news videos ended up being broadcast as real news on the Fox affiliate in Memphis.

Mr. Tomlinson has maintained that his goal at CPB is to strengthen public broadcasting by restoring "balance" and stamping out "liberal bias." But Mr. Moyers left "Now" six months ago. Mr. Tomlinson's real, not-so-hidden agenda is to enforce a conservative bias or, more specifically, a Bush bias. To this end, he has not only turned CPB into a full-service employment program for apparatchiks but also helped initiate "The Journal Editorial Report," the only public broadcasting show ever devoted to a single newspaper's editorial page, that of the zealously pro-Bush Wall Street Journal. Unlike Mr. Moyers's "Now" - which routinely balanced its host's liberalism with conservative guests like Ralph Reed, Grover Norquist, Paul Gigot and Cal Thomas - The Journal's program does not include liberals of comparable stature.

THIS is all in keeping with Mr. Tomlinson's long career as a professional propagandist. During the Reagan administration he ran Voice of America. Then he moved on to edit Reader's Digest, where, according to Peter Canning's 1996 history of the magazine, "American Dreamers," he was rumored to be "a kind of 'Manchurian Candidate' " because of the ensuing spike in pro-C.I.A. spin in Digest articles. Today Mr. Tomlinson is chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the federal body that supervises all nonmilitary international United States propaganda outlets, Voice of America included. That the administration's foremost propagandist would also be chairman of the board of CPB, the very organization meant to shield public broadcasting from government interference, is astonishing. But perhaps no more so than a White House press secretary month after month turning for softball questions to "Jeff Gannon," a fake reporter for a fake news organization ultimately unmasked as a G.O.P. activist's propaganda site.

As the public broadcasting debate plays out, there will be the usual talk about how to wean it from federal subsidy and the usual complaints (which I share) about the redundancy, commerciality and declining quality of some PBS programming in a cable universe. But once Big Bird, like that White House Thanksgiving turkey, is again ritualistically saved from the chopping block and the Senate restores more of the House's budget cuts, the most crucial test of the damage will be what survives of public broadcasting's irreplaceable journalistic offerings.

Will monitors start harassing Jim Lehrer's "NewsHour," which Mr. Tomlinson trashed at a March 2004 State Department conference as a "tired and slowed down" also-ran to Shepard Smith's rat-a-tat-tat newscast at Fox News? Will "Frontline" still be taking on the tough investigations that network news no longer touches? Will the reportage on NPR be fearless or the victim of a subtle or not-so-subtle chilling effect instilled by Mr. Tomlinson and his powerful allies in high places?

Forget the pledge drive. What's most likely to save the independent voice of public broadcasting from these thugs is a rising chorus of Deep Throats.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The "Integrity" of Andy McCarthy and National Review

Question for talk show interviewer Warren Olney at KCRW-FM, the NPR affiliate in L.A.: The National Review has no integrity. It plies manipulative falsehoods to shape "conservative" public opinion and drive it to the right. Any informed person - even one who doesn't know the magazine's CIA history - can do an easy scan of its contents online and see that. So why are opinionated drips from this bottle of political moonshine always bubbling up on your program to pollute your listeners's lives re national affairs with NR's fascist toxins? - Curious AC

Glenn Greenwald
Nov. 3, 2008

One of the most significant aspects of Thursday's judicial ruling ordering the release of 5 Guantanamo detainees is that it came from Federal District Judge Richard Leon. Leon is an appointee of the very President whose decisions on these detainees he overrode and whose evidence he rejected as woefully inadequate -- George W. Bush. It was Lyon himself who ruled in the first instance that Guantanamo detainees have no right to habeas corpus -- the decision which the Supreme Court ultimately reversed in Boumediene.

Before Leon was appointed by Bush to the bench, he was a long-time right-wing operative. That such an emphatic repudiation of Bush's arguments justifying these detentions came from this judge -- appointed at the height of Bush 43's "War on Terror" popularity and power in 2002 -- underscored how unjustified the detentions were and how flimsy was the evidence on which they were based.

But readers of National Review and Andy McCarthy wouldn't know any of this. That's because, when McCarthy wrote about this ruling on Thursday and vehemently criticized it, he stated, falsely, that Judge Leon was appointed by Bush's father, not by Bush himself:

At issue are six Algerians, one of whom is identified as a member of al Qaeda. His detention was upheld, but Judge Richard Leon -- a Bush 41 appointee reputed to be generally sympathetic to the government -- has ordered the remaining five released.

In the right-wing choruses that rely on National Review for analysis, that is an important distinction, since Bush 41 is regarded as a soft and heretical moderate, while Bush 43 -- particularly when it comes to judicial appointments and "War on Terror" issues -- is viewed as stalwart and pure.

The fact that it was a Bush 43 judge -- a real right-wing ideologue -- who rejected Bush 43's justifications for holding these men at Guantanamo negates many of the standard arguments used to demonize this decision, including the ones McCarthy went on to make.

Despite all of that, it's certainly possible, and I assumed it to be the case when I first read it, that McCarthy's false statement was unintentional and was just a good faith mistake. As a result, I emailed him on Thursday afternoon as follows:

From: Glenn Greenwald
Sent: Thursday, November 20, 2008 6:43:51 PM
Subject: CORRECTION NEEDED - Judge Leon

He's a Bush 43 appointee, not a Bush 41 appointee (as you said) -

He's a long-time and well-known lawyer in right-wing circles -- having served as GOP counsel to the Iran-contra Committee, to name just one episode.

By Friday afternoon, McCarthy had posted again on a different topic, but had not corrected his false statement, either in the original post or in a subsequent one. As a result, I emailed National Review Online's Editor, Kathryn Jean Lopez:

Sent: Friday, November 21, 2008 3:55:13 PM GMT -02:00 Mid-Atlantic

Ms. Lopez - A statement made yesterday by Andrew McCarthy is factually false. I notified him of this by email yesterday but he has made no ocorrection.

He yesterday claimed that the Judge who rejected the Bush administration's arguments and ordered the 5 Guantanamo detainees released -- Richard Leon -- was a Bush 41 appointee. He is not. He is a Bush 43 appointee, having been appointed in 2002:
Mr. McCarthy's inaccurate and still uncorrected post is here:
I'm sure you don't want to mislead your readers.

Glenn Greenwald

Since that email, Lopez has posted multiple times on all sorts of topics, but has not corrected McCarthy's false statement, nor has McCarthy. The false statement remains.

The original inaccuracy is not a monumental episode. It's the sort of error that is made routinely by everyone (though given how easy it is to verify, and given McCarthy's claimed status as an expert on legal matters, it's certainly quite sloppy). But what kind of magazine, once notified, just refuses to correct such a straightforward and clear factual error like that?

National Review has reacted this way to glaring errors in the past, such as when it allowed Michael Ledeen to falsely state in 2006 that he had opposed the Iraq War even though he had urged its commencement as clearly as could be right in the pages of National Review. During that episode, editors Lopez and Rich Lowry refused to retract or even address the lie Ledeen published despite an avalanche of emails requesting that they do so.

McCarthy's false statement here is certaintly less substantial, but on some level, the relatively minor nature of the original error makes the refusal to acknowledge and correct it that much more pitiful and revealing of what National Review is.

UPDATE: A reader emails to ask how I can prove that McCarthy and Lopez read the email corrections. The answer, of course, is that I can't prove that, though this is my reply to him:

I considered that possibility, of course, and can't say it's impossible, but I consider it highly unlikely in the extreme.

First, it would have to be the case that both of them independently haven't checked their email for days -- 3 days for McCarthy and 2 for Lopez. That would be extremely unusual for people who write online.

Second, both of them have written posts since those emails were sent. They have been online. I highly doubt that, having been online, they just didn't bother to check their emails.

Third, for exactly that reason, I wrote in upper-case letters in the Subject Line: CORRECTION NEEDED. I get literally hundreds of emails every day. I am always behind in responding to them. But I always check my email inbox -- usually multiple times per hour -- precisely because that is how I get notified of tips and corrections. I guarantee you that's true for every blogger.

Fourth, if what you suggest is what happened, I'd say that is itself irresponsible. What's the point of publishing your email address for readers if you don't bother to check for days what you have been sent?

Fifth, as I said, National Review has done this before. When those who aren't within their ideological chorus point out their errors, they tend to ignore them. It's consistent with prior behavior.

Finally, if it's the case that they didn't check their emails, they should say so and make the correction, and I'll be happy to print that.

As I said, I don't think the original error is a big deal -- just garden-variety sloppiness. It's the refusal to correct it that is significant.

Conflicts of Interest May Ensnare Journalists, Too

Also see: "Canadian TV Pro-NutraSweet Advocate Dr. Joe Schwarcz is a Monsanto Shill," and "NPR Radio Host Has Drug Company Ties"

November 22, 2008

Health reporters may become entangled in the same kinds of ethical conflicts they often expose when accepting industry-sponsored awards and relying on corporate public relations offices, three researchers warn.

Journalism awards consisting of cash prizes and all-expense-paid trips given out by drug companies are among the more “astonishing” financial ties between journalists and drug companies, the authors said. The paper appears in the online edition of the British medical journal BMJ.

Among the prizes cited are the Embrace Award for reporting on urinary incontinence — consisting of trips to Washington, D.C., and Paris — offered by pharmaceutical firms Eli Lilly and Boehringer Ingelheim, as well as another Eli Lilly award for cancer treatment stories that includes a weeklong international trip for two.

The authors also point a finger at journalism training and education programs sponsored by the health care industry and to professorships funded by drug company grants. The writers go on to criticize reporters’ reliance on drug company press officers for referrals to experts or to patients, whose views may have been carefully screened.

Pharmaceutical companies “work really hard to get their message out to the public and physicians through advertisements and continuing medical education and all the other things people hear about, so it makes sense they would go after the media as well,” said Dr. Steven Woloshin, associate professor of medicine at The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, one of the paper’s authors. “It’s striking that nobody’s been writing about this.”

Dr. Woloshin said reporters have told him that they often get names of patients from the press officers of drug companies but don’t include that fact in the coverage. “That may be a blind spot for journalists,” he said.

The paper also expressed concern over television programming produced for doctors’ waiting rooms, which may feature journalists but also serve as a platform for drug advertising. “Physicians are legitimately being questioned about their ties to industry and their independence and apparent conflicts of interest, and it’s just as important for the journalists who are doing it,” Dr. Woloshin said.

But Kelly McBride, ethics group leader at the Poynter Institute, a journalism think tank and training center, said that while a few freelance writers or magazine writers might vie for industry-sponsored awards, most journalists do not, because the conflicts of interest are obvious.

Len Bruzzese, executive director of the Association for Health Care Journalists, a group that was lauded in the paper for its high ethical standards, said he is concerned about a growing number of online outlets that operate in a “grayer area,” because they do traditional journalism but also provide opportunities for commercial interests to air videos through commercials or more direct sponsorship. For the most part, he said, “journalists are good solid people who will avoid these conflicts, or they wouldn’t have entered journalism to begin with.”

Saturday, November 22, 2008

NPR Radio Host Has Drug Company Ties

“ ... 'In retrospect, that should have been disclosed,' he said. ... Dr. Goodwin earned around $20,000 from GlaxoSmithKline, which for years suppressed studies showing that its antidepressant, Paxil, increased suicidal behaviors. ... "

November 22, 2008

An influential psychiatrist who was the host of the popular NPR program “The Infinite Mind” earned at least $1.3 million from 2000 to 2007 giving marketing lectures for drugmakers, income not mentioned on the program.

The psychiatrist and radio host, Dr. Frederick K. Goodwin, is the latest in a series of doctors and researchers whose ties to drugmakers have been uncovered by Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa. Dr. Goodwin, a former director of the National Institute of Mental Health, is the first news media figure to be investigated.

Dr. Goodwin’s weekly radio programs have often touched on subjects important to the commercial interests of the companies for which he consults. In a program broadcast on Sept. 20, 2005, he warned that children with bipolar disorder who were left untreated could suffer brain damage, a controversial view.

“But as we’ll be hearing today,” Dr. Goodwin told his audience, “modern treatments — mood stabilizers in particular — have been proven both safe and effective in bipolar children.”

That same day, GlaxoSmithKline paid Dr. Goodwin $2,500 to give a promotional lecture for its mood stabilizer drug, Lamictal, at the Ritz Carlton Golf Resort in Naples, Fla. In all, GlaxoSmithKline paid him more than $329,000 that year for promoting Lamictal, records given to Congressional investigators show.

In an interview, Dr. Goodwin said that Bill Lichtenstein, the program’s producer, knew of his consulting but that neither thought “getting money from drug companies could be an issue.”

“In retrospect, that should have been disclosed,” he said.

But Mr. Lichtenstein said that he was unaware of Dr. Goodwin’s financial ties to drugmakers and that, after an article in the online magazine Slate this year pointed out that guests on his program had undisclosed affiliations with drugmakers, he called Dr. Goodwin “and asked him point-blank if he was receiving funding from pharmaceutical companies, directly or indirectly, and the answer was, ‘No.’ ”

Asked about the contradiction, Dr. Goodwin and Mr. Lichtenstein each stood by their versions of events.

“The fact that he was out on the stump for pharmaceutical companies was not something we were aware of,” Mr. Lichtenstein said in an interview. “It would have violated our agreements.”

Margaret Low Smith, vice president of National Public Radio, said NPR would remove “The Infinite Mind” from its satellite radio service next week, the earliest date possible. Ms. Smith said that had NPR been aware of Dr. Goodwin’s financial interests, it would not have broadcast the program.

Sarah Alspach, a spokeswoman for GlaxoSmithKline, said, “We continue to believe that healthcare professionals are responsible for making disclosures to their employers and other entities, in this case National Public Radio and its listeners.”

“The Infinite Mind” has won more than 60 journalism awards over 10 years and bills itself as “public radio’s most honored and listened to health and science program.” It has more than one million listeners in more than 300 radio markets. Mr. Lichtenstein said that the last original program was broadcast in October, that reruns have been running since and that “the show is going off the air.”

The program has received major underwriting from the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, both of which have policies requiring grantees to disclose and manage conflicts of interest. Mr. Grassley wrote letters to both agencies asking whether disclosure rules were followed for the grants. Spokesmen for both agencies said they were cooperating with the investigation.

Mr. Grassley is systematically asking some of the nation’s leading researchers and doctors to provide their conflict-of-interest disclosures, and he is comparing those documents with records of actual payments from drug companies. The records often conflict, sometimes starkly.

In October, Mr. Grassley revealed that Dr. Charles B. Nemeroff of Emory University, an influential psychiatric researcher, earned more than $2.8 million in consulting arrangements with drugmakers from 2000 to 2007, failed to report at least $1.2 million of that income to his university and violated federal research rules. As a result, the National Institutes of Health suspended a $9.3 million research grant to Emory, and Dr. Nemeroff gave up his chairmanship of Emory’s psychiatry department.

In June, the senator revealed that Dr. Joseph Biederman of Harvard, whose work has fueled an explosion in the use of powerful antipsychotic medicines in children, had earned at least $1.6 million from drugmakers from 2000 to 2007, and failed to report most of this income to Harvard.

Mr. Grassley’s investigation demonstrates how deeply pharmaceutical commercial interests reach into academic medicine, and it has shown that universities are all but incapable of policing these arrangements. As a result, almost every major medical school and medical society is reassessing its relationships with makers of drugs and devices.

“We know the drug companies are throwing huge amounts of money at medical researchers, and there’s no clear-cut way to know how much and exactly where,” Mr. Grassley said. “Now it looks like the same thing is happening in journalism.”

Mr. Grassley has proposed legislation that would require drugmakers to disclose all payments of $500 or more to doctors. Eli Lilly and Merck have promised to begin doing so next year.

Dr. Goodwin has written an influential textbook on bipolar disorder and is an adjunct professor at George Washington University. In an interview, he blamed a changing ethical environment for any misunderstandings with Mr. Lichtenstein about his consulting arrangements. “More than 10 years ago, when he and I got involved in this effort, it didn’t occur to me that my doing what every other expert in the field does might be considered a conflict of interest,” Dr. Goodwin said.

He defended the views he expressed in many of his radio programs and said that, because he consulted for so many drugmakers at once, he had no particular bias.

“These companies compete with each other and cancel each other out,” he said.

Industry critics dismiss that view, saying that experts who consult for drugmakers tend to minimize the value of nondrug or older drug treatments.

In the fine print of a study he wrote in 2003, Dr. Goodwin reported consulting or speaking for nine drugmakers, including Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and Novartis. Mr. Grassley asked for payment information only from GlaxoSmithKline. Dr. Goodwin said that in recent years, GlaxoSmithKline paid him more than other companies.

He said that he had never given marketing lectures for antidepressant medicines like Prozac, so he saw no conflict with a program he hosted in March titled “Prozac Nation: Revisited.” which he introduced by saying, “As you will hear today, there is no credible scientific evidence linking antidepressants to violence or to suicide.”

That same week, Dr. Goodwin earned around $20,000 from GlaxoSmithKline, which for years suppressed studies showing that its antidepressant, Paxil, increased suicidal behaviors.

Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, said that although concerns about news media bias were growing, few people believed that journalists took money from those they covered. Disclosures like those surrounding Dr. Goodwin could change that, “so this kind of thing is very damaging,” Mr. Rosenstiel said.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Judith Regan Drives Two Authors Bonkers

M NOVEMBER 16, 1997

When the morning delivery of The New York Times brought news on June 27 that Harper Collins had canceled more than 100 titles from its publishing list to cut costs, Ellen Hawkes turned to her longtime companion, Peter Manso, and said: "We should be so lucky."

At the time they read the article in their Berkeley, Calif., home, Ms. Hawkes and Mr. Manso, accomplished book authors both, had been collaborating for almost a year on a biography of the deceased model and actress Margaux Hemingway for Regan Books, the Harper Collins-owned imprint run by publishing's brash wonderwoman, Judith Regan. The deal had been signed with high hopes on both sides-including an ABC-TV mini-series tie-in for the book, dreamed up and arranged by Ms. Regan.

But all was not well between the authors and their editor. They claimed they had not been in contact with Ms. Regan since September 1996. She had, however, made her presence felt in a phone call on June 6 to Ms. Hawkes' agent, Marion Rosenberg. "They are assholes, unprofessional beasts, reprehensible, unprofessional motherfuckers," she told Ms. Rosenberg (who took notes), by way of complaining about manuscript chapters that she had not received. Ms. Regan also allegedly threatened to "ruin" Mr. Manso's chances of working again.

For 15 months, the authors, their two agents, Ms. Regan and several other Harper Collins representatives battled one another in a barrage of correspondence. Ms. Regan reserved much of her most descriptive vitriol for Mr. Manso, calling him, in one memo "a reptile, a weasel" and someone with a "dog-shit reputation."

One of their many editors, at Ms. Regan's behest, wrote them that Margaux Hemingway "is symbolic of an era of excess, of discarding women when they age; men used her her whole life." He then asked: "Who killed Margaux?"

The answer: "We all did."

The authors themselves were no shrinking violets when it came to memos. "Judith (and we) have all along thought of this as a 'woman's' book," they wrote to Mr. Manso's agent, Elaine Markson, when they learned that Ms. Regan wanted a shot of Hemingway "with breasts visible under [a] sheer wet dress" on the book's cover. "We must prevail on whoever at this publishing house might have some standards of taste, as well as marketing and common sense, to put a stop to this ill-conceived notion immediately." Ms. Markson at one point wrote Harper Collins' general counsel, James Fox, "Please inform Regan Books that, like E.E. Cummings, there is some shit I will not eat."

Believe it not, things are now worse. On Oct. 17, Ms. Regan rejected the authors' manuscript, which had been titled American Girl . A few days after, the authors learned an additional bit of information that they contend is significant. Ms. Rosenberg called Frank Konigsberg, whose production company was going to produce the Hemingway project for ABC, to let him know that Ms. Regan had canceled their book and to see if he might still be interested should the book be picked up by another publisher. It was then that Ms. Rosenberg learned that one of the points holding up Mr. Konigsberg's deal with ABC was the size of Ms. Regan's fee. The authors contend that when Ms. Regan suspected her TV deal might not fly, she pulled the plug on their book.

Although Ms. Hawkes and Mr. Manso claim their contract was violated on a number of counts and have retained attorney Jerome Traum, they told The Observer that as of press time, they had no plans to take legal action. They, as well as their agents, have decided to go public about their experiences.
Meanwhile, the usually outspoken Ms. Regan has remained mum on this subject. She declined to talk to The Observer and instead chose to issue a statement through Regan Books' marketing director, John Ekizian, who denied that Ms. Regan canceled the book because of the stymied miniseries.
According to Mr. Ekizian, American Girl was "deemed unacceptable by Regan Books last month and canceled." He added that "Mr. Manso failed to honor the terms of his agreement by failing to cooperate with the Harper Collins legal department's vetting process, including the identification of key sources, the refusal to provide photo permission that was necessary to the book's content and failure to respond to the professional judgment that the book was excessively long and required substantial cutting."

"Bullshit," said Ms. Markson, who explained that her clients were ready and willing to cooperate on every front and were simply waiting, as is traditionally the case, for "editorial acceptance" of the manuscript. "Why would you give a book to the legal department for vetting, and waste their time and money, if it weren't accepted editorially?"

Mr. Traum told The Observer that his clients were "willing, at the appropriate time, to meet with the lawyers and to justify every factual statement in the book."

Meanwhile, Mr. Manso sounded fairly apoplectic. "These are smear tactics," he said. "It's wrong. It's demonstrably wrong. It's demonstrable slander." He seemed further vexed that Ms. Regan seemed to be singling him out in this whole deal. "Why is this Manso, Manso, Manso?" he said, then answered his own question: "It goes to Regan's vow to destroy me. Either that, or she's the biggest fucking sexist on earth."

Ms. Hawkes offered a more psychological explanation, saying that Ms. Regan may have focused on him because "he is the male who is rejecting her."

Mr. Manso, who admitted that initially he was seduced and charmed by Ms. Regan, characterized his editor in another way. "We made a pact with the devil, we did," he told The Observer.

It wouldn't be the first time that Ms. Regan has been fingered as publishing's Antichrist. She has a foul mouth, a tabloid sensibility and a desire to be a Hollywood producer. ("She's a latter-day Harry Cohn," said Mr. Manso, referring to the late, heavy-handed Columbia Pictures president, "except she doesn't have Harry Cohn's taste.")

On the other hand, Mr. Manso-who is certainly the more talkative of the American Girl duo-knows, too, how to turn out a hypermuscular quote. ("Judith Regan does not believe in the soul," he said at one point.) According to one person involved in the making of American Girl , when tension ran high, Mr. Manso tended to "seize on all sorts of small things and blow them up out of proportion."

A closer look at the chain of events-and the extensive correspondence that resulted among the authors, the agents, Ms. Regan and representatives of her imprint-reveals the anatomy of the book deal from hell. And it reveals the rift between publishing's old school, represented by Ms. Hawkes, Mr. Manso and their agents, and the new school, where Ms. Regan has written a number of the rules.

A Miniseries, and They Were Hooked

When Mr. Manso first met with Ms. Regan, he was coming off his 1994 biography of Marlon Brando ( Brando ), a book that he spent seven years-an eternity by current publishing standards-writing for William Morrow & Company before moving it to Hyperion. Ms. Hawkes was also no stranger to complex, even difficult book subjects. In 1993, she had written about the warring wine-making Gallo family in the critically well-received Blood and Wine Prior to those efforts, Mr. Manso took on Norman Mailer (Mailer: His Life and Times), and Ms. Hawkes the Ginny Foat murder case (Feminism on Trial).

Mr. Manso, whose meeting with Ms. Regan was set up by his agent, Ms. Markson, told The Observer that, initially, he liked Ms. Regan's "moxie." It was Ms. Regan who broached the idea of doing a book about Margaux Hemingway; it was she who also had the idea that the book be turned into an ABC miniseries. (Mr. Manso said that he, too, had had the idea for a TV tie-in.) According to Mr. Ekizian, Ms. Regan had successfully pitched the series to ABC before attaching Mr. Manso and Ms. Hawkes to the book. Mr. Manso, who called the lure of TV "undeniable," was hooked.

At the time, Mr. Manso said, the Hemingway book "was envisioned as a happy opportunity to write a quick book about a decent subject where one could put some money in the bank."

Sources familiar with the deal put the American Girl advance in the low-six figures, not including the anticipated money from the television deal. (Mr. Manso would not confirm this.) But the first signs of trouble arrived with the deal memo, dated July 29, 1996. Although Ms. Rosenberg is Ms. Hawkes' literary agent, she is by trade a talent agent whose clientele consists largely of actors, directors and screenwriters. She has also served as a producer on numerous films, including The Deer Hunter and The Missouri Breaks . Hence, Ms. Hawkes and Mr. Manso decided that Ms. Rosenberg would represent the couple on matters pertaining to the Hemingway TV project, and Ms. Markson would handle their book contract.

Ms. Rosenberg noticed that the deal memo called for Regan Books to serve as the agent in the television deal (which would bring Ms. Regan a 10 percent commission) and for Ms. Regan to serve as an executive producer of the resulting TV project. Given that one of a producer's jobs is to keep a lid on the production costs, whereas an agent's responsibility is to get her clients paid, and as handsomely as possible, Ms. Rosenberg reckoned that a potential conflict of interest existed. She called Ms. Regan to ask her to better explain the deal.

Ms. Rosenberg said that Ms. Regan initially told her that she didn't want to "talk to any fucking Hollywood agents," but then said, "I always protect my writers." Ms. Rosenberg said that Ms. Regan also said that she would not sign off on the publishing deal unless she was handling the TV rights. "She said it was a deal breaker," recounted Ms. Rosenberg. "From that moment on, I was on the sidelines."

Said Mr. Ekizian: "Mr. Manso's representatives and agents knew exactly what he was agreeing to."

Told to Get a Book Doctor

Ms. Hawkes and Mr. Manso went ahead with the deal. But by mid-November 1996, said Ms. Hawkes, "it was real clear" that the couple's mid-December deadline was "unrealistic." ("They covered a lot of ground in a real hurry," said one Regan Books insider, who nonetheless added: "Frankly, I don't know how they could have hit that schedule.") The authors agreed to hand in a draft of the first half of the manuscript by Jan. 1, and Regan Books agreed to move the book from its spring to its fall list.

Regan Books' response to the draft took Ms. Hawkes and Mr. Manso by surprise. Mr. Manso said that Kristin Kiser, the editor handling their project, informed them that they needed a book doctor-industry parlance for a rewrite man-and that the $16,000 to hire one would be deducted from their advance. Ms. Kiser, who now works at Crown, declined to comment. "I'm not saying I'm Henry James, but I am saying this is preposterous," Mr. Manso told The Observer .

Enter Ms. Markson: "I said there's no reason for us to pay for a book doctor. These are real writers. What they need is an editor." Regan Books then picked up the tab for the services of Noel Greenwood, a freelance editor based in Santa Barbara, Calif.

Mr. Greenwood declined to comment, except to say, "Giving birth to a book is an ordeal. It's a tough process, and people get very emotional. So naturally there's some tension back and forth."

Sources familiar with the American Girl manuscript said that Mr. Greenwood was brought in to focus and shape the book. The manuscript that Ms. Hawkes and Mr. Manso turned in, said one of the sources, was "a very journalistic account" that was not easily molded into a book "that moved along in a literary fashion" or, perhaps, that would easily translate into a high-concept TV movie or miniseries.

Ratcheting up the tension was the rush to get the book done. It has become the new modern problem of the publishing world. More and more, readers-sated on the media coverage that results when a celebrity dies or becomes involved in scandal-are ready to move on to a new scandal long before a book can be published.

Hence, today's book-publishing schedules resemble yesteryear's New Yorker deadlines. One source who worked on the book said about American Girl , "the more [Ms. Hawkes and Mr. Manso] scrambled and started to bust their deadlines, the more nervous people in New York got. Then Peter and Ellen got nervous, and it fed on itself. There was constant tension and anxiety." (For the record, the writers said, they never missed a deadline.)

By May, the tension levels continued to notch up. Mr. Greenwood had left for a long-planned three-month vacation in Ireland, and the authors groused that they were spending hundreds of dollars to send computer diskettes carrying chapters of their manuscript-via Federal Express-to Galway.

Meanwhile, Ms. Kiser left for Crown. Ms. Hawkes and Mr. Manso were informed that their new in-house editor was David Craig. Mr. Craig had heretofore been working as a vice president of film development for Ms. Regan's company and, according to the authors, had little experience in book publishing. Mr. Craig, who has also since left Ms. Regan's employ, declined to comment.

On May 23, Mr. Craig sent a letter to Mr. Manso and Ms. Hawkes telling them that June 20 was the "drop-dead" date for a final, edited manuscript. It required, he wrote, that the authors turn in their final chapters sooner than planned and take less time to review Mr. Greenwood's edits.

Then, in her June 6 phone call to Ms. Rosenberg, Ms. Regan blew. She charged that Ms. Hawkes and Mr. Manso had not delivered the manuscript and photos for the book as promised and were in breach of contract. Mr. Manso explained that the couple were holding on to the first and last chapters and the photos for the book because they were afraid, as Mr. Manso would write in a memo to Ms. Markson a few days later, that Ms. Regan was going to "ram the Greenwood edit into production without giving us time to review it."

On June 27, Harper Collins' general counsel James Fox stepped into the picture with a letter to Ms. Markson, reassuring her that her clients would have time to review the final manuscript, although Mr. Fox added that the authors could reinstate only those passages that were "absolutely necessary" to the accuracy or clarity of the book. Mr. Fox then added that he trusted that the authors would now send in the rest of the manuscript and the photos.

On July 22, the authors' latest editor, Jeremie Ruby-Strauss, wrote the authors to say that Ms. Regan felt that the first and last chapters of the book needed "more." Mr. Ruby-Strauss flexed his own muscles, writing that his interpretation was that the book needed perspective and conclusion. "Well, if I just read 256 pages, I want to learn something about life, something about me."

Margaux: Up for Interpretation

From its inception, the deal for American Girl had been one long struggle for control between Ms. Regan and the authors. Ms. Hawkes and Mr. Manso had allowed Ms. Regan to be both executive producer and their agent on the TV deal, but now they were determined to resist what they said were Ms. Regan's attempts to remold their sympathetic portrait of Margaux Hemingway into a lurid cautionary tale about the pitfalls of celebrity and the wild 70's. Researching their book, the authors said that they were touched by Hemingway's battle with epilepsy and depression. "This story softened me up and knocked me on my ass," said Mr. Manso.

Three days after the final manuscript had been submitted, Mr. Ruby-Strauss sent Ms. Marks a fax informing her that Ms. Regan wanted to appeal to her "sensibilities as a woman" in order to better shape American Girl . Via Mr. Ruby-Strauss, Ms. Regan argued that the "Hemingway hex" (Hemingway's grandfather, Ernest, took his life) was not enough. "What did it mean to be a woman, childless, not investing in a family, opting instead for glamour?" Ms. Regan wanted to know. "What happened to those women when beauty fades and men stop desiring them?"

Ms. Hawkes was outraged. Until this point, she said, Ms. Regan had virtually ignored her. The following day, she wrote to Ms. Rosenberg. "Perhaps Judith is so crazy that she's trying to write her autobiography (and address her worst fears) on the back of Margaux's biography," Ms. Hawkes wrote. "And it should be noted, whether Judith likes it or not, Margaux never lost her looks and desirability to men."

"How can Judith hope to 'appeal to my sensibilities as a woman,' when she's repeatedly offended my sensibilities as a woman, as a real feminist," Ms. Hawkes continued. She then voiced what both authors had begun to suspect. "Tell her to read the entire book, not just Chapter 1, and all her questions, if not her own fears, will be answered."

'What the Hell Is Going On?'

In another three-page letter to Ms. Rosenberg dated Aug. 19, Ms. Hawkes asked, in capital letters, "What the hell is going on?"

On Aug. 29, an annoyed-sounding Mr. Fox wrote Ms. Markson to point out that, despite her claims that Regan Books had been incommunicado for several weeks, he had been talking to her about American Girl "at least once, and often more than once" every day. He then informed her that the book had been moved to the winter list, and that it would not be considered for acceptance until the authors had responded to queries from Mr. Greenwood "on factual matters" and had provided Regan Books with photo permissions.

Ms. Regan finally weighed in with a three-page letter to the authors that arrived in the second week of September. Once again, Ms. Regan called for a broader perspective at the book's start and close. The fact that her suggestions were limited to the first and last chapters further demonstrated to Ms. Hawkes and Mr. Manso that Ms. Regan had not read the manuscript. But there was one additional point. On Aug. 31, Diana, Princess of Wales, had perished in a Paris car accident, and the implications of her early death seemed to be on Ms. Regan's mind. "Like Princess Diana, she was a bauble for some and was betrayed time and time again," Ms. Regan wrote.

Finally, Ms. Regan wrote that she had a much more "arduous" task for the couple to attempt. The book was supposed to come in at 100,000 words; instead, it came in at 160,000. She explained that the target market would "hesitate" to pick up "such a weighty tome," that its size made it "prohibitive to sales." She wanted 20,000 words cut from American Girl .

With their attorney Mr. Traum in the picture, Ms. Hawkes and Mr. Manso said, they agreed to some concessions. Still, they said, they remained in the dark until mid-October, when Ms. Regan pulled the plug on their book. They have not been paid the rest of their advance, and Mr. Manso claims he is out $50,000 of his own money that was spent on researching the book.

As Ms. Markson sought a new publisher for American Girl , Ms. Rosenberg sought to salvage the TV deal, and Mr. Manso and Ms. Hawkes had fended off a Page Six item on Nov.11, the flurry of activity recalled yet another memo that Ms. Markson sent to Mr. Fox on Aug. 25. In it, she wrote: "To assume we will all live happily ever after requires a wilder stretch of imagination than even I can muster."

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Santa Barbara: Midweek hotel deals for spontaneous shoppers
Los Angeles Times, CA
November 19, 2008

"The Montecito fire reportedly was 95% contained, as of Tuesday. So with the coast clear, so to speak, have a think about the midweek holiday-shopping deal ... "

Eli Roth is Making Propaganda for 'Inglorious Basterds'
by Jessica Barnes
Nov 19th 2008

Now that we've all had a chance to see some of the video footage that has been leaking from the set of Quentin Tarantino's Inglorious Basterds (footage that has since disappeared), you might have noticed that the man himself was nowhere to be found in most of the clips. But, according to The Quentin Tarantino Archives, one man who has been behind the camera lately is Mr. 'Torture Porn' himself, Eli Roth. Rumor has it Roth is directing a Nazi propaganda film to be included in the story of "...a group of prisoners-turned-soldiers whose mission is to take down a group of Nazis, and the other follows a young Jewish woman who seeks to avenge the death of her parents by this Nazi group."

The horror director first signed on to the project back in August to play Sgt. Donnie Donowitz, "a baseball bat swinging Nazi hunter". But, I guess Roth wasn't content with just being in front of the camera this time around. QT Archives reports that Roth is directing the story of "Daniel Brühl as a Nazi sniper and GIs on a suicide mission." -- presumably while Tarantino was off teaching Til Schweiger how to do a spit take.

You almost have to feel sorry for Tarantino with the amount of scrutiny surrounding his WWII epic -- think about it, when was the last time a headline about an orchestral score got this much attention? So far, Tarantino and company have managed to keep a few details from spilling with the help of the odd water cannon. So, you may be wondering: why all the mania? Well, maybe it's because Tarantino has been talking about making Basterds for so long -- or maybe it's just because for a lot fans, Grindhouse wasn't the comeback they had been hoping for. Either way you cut it, we may not like what the guy has come up with, but at least it will be like nothing else we've seen before.

Inglorious Basterds is expected to arrive in theaters in 2009.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

William Bennett's Phony Statistics

William Bennett, Gays, and the Truth
By Walter Olson
Dec. 19, 1997

"This is tough news. It's not pleasant to hear," said former Education Secretary William Bennett on ABC's This Week Nov. 9. "But it's very important, and it's part of telling the truth." The occasion for tough-but-needed truth telling: Bill Clinton's first-ever presidential speech to an organized gay-rights group, the Human Rights Campaign. Clinton had conferred respectability--wrongly--on the gay quest for approval when in fact, said Bennett, he "should tell the truth on this one": Homosexuality "takes 30 years off your life." The average life expectancy for gay men, Bennett declared, was just 43. ...

Story continues

Monday, November 17, 2008

PROPOSITION 8: Time Magazine and Alison Stateman Pour Gasoline on a Fire

" ... Fortunately, the response of outraged citizens to such journalistic malpractice is also exempt from government intervention, thus we are free to excoriate this meretricious writing for the shame it brings to Time Magazine and its author. ... "

Arson! Time Magazine and Alison Stateman Pour Gasoline on a Fire
Posted by Allan Brauer
November 17, 2008

On Saturday, November 15th, 2008, Time published an incendiary piece of “reporting” by Alison Stateman, describing negative consequences experienced by supporters of California’s Proposition 8, with the sensationalistic title, “What Happens If You’re on the Gay ‘Enemies List.’”

The deeply flawed article is a completely one-sided attempt to portray these individuals and businesses as innocent victims of a vengeful, torch-and-pitchfork-wielding gay mob, bent on the destruction of any who dare to stand between them and their goal of legalized gay marriage. This article is nothing more than journalistic arson, as it appears to have been commissioned with the goal of pouring gasoline on the fire of extant rifts between various communities – while polarizing straight people, and African-Americans in particular, against the gay community.

That any high-school journalism student could piece together a more thoughtful and balanced discussion of the initiative’s fallout by performing simple web searches only makes Time’s choice to publish this offal more unforgivable. Perhaps her insufficiency as a reporter can be attributed to Ms. Stateman's role as managing editor of PR Tactics, the in-house magazine of the Public Relations Society of America.

Stateman begins by channeling Bill O’Reilly’s desperate effort to fan the flames of anger between the African-American and LGBT communities. She cites the suspect and unscientifically sampled CNN exit poll proclaiming that 70% of African-Americans voted in favor of the gay marriage ban, then makes unsourced claims of racist actions by opponents of Proposition 8, as follows:

"According to eyewitness reports published on the Internet, racial epithets have been used against African-Americans at protests in California, directed even at blacks who are fighting to repeal Proposition 8."

Setting aside the reality that one can find “eyewitness reports published on the Internet” that insist the US Government detonated the World Trade Center, and that Barack Obama was born in Kenya and ineligible to be President, it is clear that there was a great deal of overreaction to that statistic; and unfortunately some people who were crushed by Prop 8’s passage made inappropriate comments about the black community.

However, the article treats this single measure of African-American opposition to gay marriage equality as an unassailable gold standard, even as several intelligent analysts like Nate Silver have long noted the dangers of interpreting data that is itself a small subset of an already small sample. What’s more important is that it was the mainstream media’s relentless hyping of this CNN poll result that contributed to the climate of scapegoating and fueled such racist remarks. You know, just as Time is attempting to provoke anti-gay sentiment with this article.

The article also fails to note that a diverse set of civil rights advocacy groups, including the NAACP, have signed on to a legal challenge to Proposition 8, on the grounds that permitting an electoral majority to remove rights from a suspect minority class sets a chilling precedent that could redound negatively to other minority groups.

Next, the article invokes visions of the McCarthy era by talking in sinister tones about how “gay activists” are publishing blacklists of pro-Prop 8 donors to the web and calling for boycotts. Never mind that the source from which these nefarious “gay activists” are getting their dirt is California Secretary of State Debra Bowen’s office, as all financial contributions to political candidates and initiatives are public record. In fact, why not click this link and do some evil blacklist-making yourself? And never mind that groups such as the American Family Association have for years made boycotts of “pro-gay” companies like McDonalds, PepsiCo and Disney their stock in trade.

And while the practices of blacklisting and boycotting are something about which reasonable people can disagree, the article neglects to acknowledge that, the principal fundraising and advocacy group supporting Prop 8, sent letters signed by its board and counsel threatening entities that contributed to the No on 8 campaign with exposure as enemies of traditional marriage unless they made matching contributions to the Yes campaign. Note that Stateman also cites as a victim Bolthouse Farms, which, under pressure for its donation in favor of Prop 8, made comparable donations to organizations supporting marriage equality, again while failing to note that this was the precise goal of ProtectMarriage’s letter to No on 8 donors. After all, if your goal is to paint one side in a struggle as the villain, you can’t muddy the waters by pointing out that the side you are portraying as a victim engaged in the same behavior.

Next, arsonist Stateman moves to the story of Scott Eckern, artistic director of Sacramento’s California Musical Theatre, and his resignation after his contribution in favor of the referendum came to light. She gives short shrift to this particular saga, but two interesting points about it would have conflicted with the thesis of her story. First, one of the principal architects of the campaign to call out Eckern for his regrettable choice to finance Prop 8 was the presumably heterosexual actress, wife and mother Susan Egan, who wrote a widely circulated letter on the matter. Second, in speaking with individuals who actually work for CMT (you know, practicing that thing called journalism?), I learned that while gay staff members were hurt and heartsick over Eckern’s contributions, none with whom I spoke characterized him as a homophobe or bigot in the conduct of his life; and though it is an inconvenient truth to Stateman, some of the most aggressive calls for Eckern’s resignation came from straight employees of the organization.

Further, the article neglects to offer even one example of a person who has experienced a loss of employment due to their opposition to Prop 8. For that, one need turn no farther than Fresno, where Catholic priest Father Geoffrey Farrow was removed from his post after he came out to his parish as a gay man and urged them to vote no on 8.

Last, Stateman reports that supporters of Prop 8 have found it necessary to take down web lists of donors and supporters to protect them from the attack of evil blacklisting gays, again neglecting to mention that all such information remains available via simple search of the CA Secretary of State’s website. She unquestioningly quotes the "victim's spokesman" Frank Schubert, campaign manager for Yes on Proposition 8.

"No matter what you think of Proposition 8, we ought to respect people's right to participate in the political process. It strikes me as quite ironic that a group of people who demand tolerance and who claim to be for civil rights are so willing to be intolerant and trample on other people's civil rights."

Stateman fails to do her reporter’s duty to point out that, notwithstanding Schubert’s protestations to the contrary, no civil rights have been trampled on by any action of Prop 8 opponents. Prop 8 opponents are private citizens and not an arm of the government, and it is the government’s repression of speech which is prohibited by law. Just as Prop 8 proponents are free to advocate for their cause and make non-libelous statements about their opponents, so are Prop 8 opponents free to call attention factually to others' actions, and to advocate that people might exercise their freedom of association and choose not to patronize such businesses.

And likewise, the First Amendment’s protection of the press ensures that Time Magazine and Alison Stateman can publish factually correct, but grotesquely imbalanced, treatises whose goal is to foment anger and rage against a widely-hated minority group, and experience no governmental action in return.

Fortunately, the response of outraged citizens to such journalistic malpractice is also exempt from government intervention, thus we are free to excoriate this meretricious writing for the shame it brings to Time Magazine and its author. Thus we can call for Time to throw a bucket of cold water on the fire it has stoked and apologize to its readers for printing this shoddy reporting, and begin publishing well-written articles by thoughtful individuals who have no agenda to promote but the truth.