Tuesday, February 23, 2010

When Corporate Shills Attack

The Huffington Post just published an attack on Free Press from Patrick Maines, the president of a corporate front group called the Media Institute.

The Institute's sole purpose seems to be to take down anyone who threatens the nation’s media oligarchy ... in this case, cutting down people who support more diverse public media and a more open Internet.

Maines: Keeping us safe from "paleoleftists"
In his Huffington Post bio Maines claims to promote a strong First Amendment. However, he doesn't tell readers that he's a hired gun for Verizon, AT&T, Viacom, Clear Channel Communications, Time Warner Inc, News Corp and other media giants.

When I wrote a reply pointing out the corporate link above, it was deleted. I have re-submitted the comment four times and it has been deleted four times.

Apparently, Maines, who professes to love the First Amendment, thinks free speech is good for only the companies that sign his paycheck, and not people like you and me.

Now he's turned to red-baiting to spread the gospel of mainstream media. This from his article:
Free Press is the absurd name of a paleoleftist organization that sees government influence over the media as a way to advance its larger political views, a point made both explicitly and inadvertently in the published opinions of the group's founder and Maximum Leader, Professor Robert McChesney. Free Press … coins amusingly infantile slogans like "Net neutrality: the First Amendment of the Internet."
Free Press is a regular target of the corporate-funded right on sites like BigGovernment.com, cable shows like Glenn Beck, and by astroturf groups like Americans for Prosperity.

But it’s particularly disturbing now to see the same types pedaling their junk on Huffington Post.

I have written for Huffington for several years and still do, gratefully. When I write something for Arianna, I do so with the understanding that, while readers may not agree with me, they will know that I come by my opinions honestly, that I am not working some hidden agenda. (Free Press doesn’t accept a dime from industry, industry groups, government or political parties.)

I respect Huffington Post for building a home for many of us who seek an alternative to the mainstream mouthpieces that dominate news and commentary. But they do not, unfortunately, require the kind of disclosure I'd like to see regarding a new crop of contributors who are using the site to push corporate agendas. I'm hoping that will change soon.

It may look from a distance that "independent" groups are calling those of us who believe in media reform and an open Internet "paleoleftists" and socialists, it's just the same fear-mongering groups that attack Progressives all the time -- whether we're advocating health care reform, labor rights or curbs to carbon emissions.

I'm not asking Huffington to block voices with whom I disagree. But there should be more clarity when featuring content that has been bought and paid for by powerful corporations seeking to defeat reform.


Timothy Karr said...

UPDATE: I tried to comment on the story at Huffington Post for a fifth time and Maines blocked my comment for a fifth time. I guess it's because he loves free speech so much.

Brett Glass said...

Not a dime from corporate interests, Tim? Hmmmm: How much money does your lobbying group receive from the Knight Foundation, where Google executives are grant administrators? And how much free click-through advertising does your "Save the Internet" lobbying site receive from Google? How come your group never deviates a micron from Google's corporate agenda? Oh, and will you block this comment in the same way that you claim Maines blocked yours?

Timothy Karr said...

Brett. Free Press receives no money from industry, industry groups, political parties or government. We pay for our Google search adwords just like any one else in the marketplace -- with our own money. If you have evidence that Free Press is funded by Google, show it. If you don't, stop spreading lies about it. And I know you don't because it's simply untrue.

Brooke said...


I think you're confused about the First Amendment. It protects our speech from being blocked by the government, not by Patrick Maines, Verizon, or Rush Limbaugh. You have no First Amendment right to post a comment at HuffPo, because the government doesn't run HuffPo. Similaly, if I leave comments on your blog calling you a wanker and you delete them, my right to "free speech" hasn't been violated.

It's upsetting when people on the political left--people who tend to be more sensitive to civil rights issues and who should therefore know better--conflate "free speech" with "speech anywhere, anytime, under any circumstance." Your characterization of the First Amendment here and elsewhere is sloppy and intellectually lazy to the point of meaninglessness.

Michael Corcoran said...

Great post, Tim, and I too am dissapointed that Huff Post allowed those comments to go deleted.

Keep up the good work!

Timothy Karr said...

Brooke. I have just read your comment. Two reactions:

1. You didn't actually read my post.

2. You don't understand my point. (That Maines professes to be a lover of free speech but only when its by the large media corporations that pay him to shill at the Huffington Post).

Also: Do you think calling someone a "wanker" advances your argument, as opposed to just making you seem coarse and ignorant?

Be careful with your answer to that one as I have my own rules for commenting. (See to right)

Tom@IT Services said...

Doesn't seem like they should have the power to do this.. And i used to like the Huffington Post :/ Wonder if there are behind the scenes people trying to persuade them to do this.