Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Murdoch's Date With Justice

A legal net is closing around media mogul Rupert Murdoch. On Monday a top investigator in London reported that senior News Corp. employees authorized hundreds of bribes to police officers and other government officials.

But these reports of criminal behavior in the United Kingdom have yet to trigger a prosecution of Murdoch here in the States, where top executives can be held liable for systematically bribing foreign officials.

To stop this scandal from jumping the Atlantic, Murdoch has added legions of lobbyists and lawyers to his ranks. Their goal is to defang the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which makes it unlawful for a U.S. corporation to pay off a foreign official for the purpose of advancing or protecting a business interest.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Intellectual Dishonesty at the Heart of the Heartland Institute

More media have pored over leaked internal memos that expose the intellectual dishonesty at the heart of the Heartland Institute, the coin-operated think tank that has made a living spreading lies in the service of corporations.

The most revealing of the memos reveals the Institute's plans to create an anti-climate change curriculum for k-12 schools nationwide. The goal, according to the memo is to show "that the topic of climate change is controversial and uncertain — two key points that are effective at dissuading teachers from teaching science."

"There’s your smoking gun," write the editors at the Star-Ledger:

Friday, February 10, 2012

Minneapolis Star Tribune: The onslaught is coming to a TV near you

This piece was published earlier this week by the Star Tribune:

If Minnesotans flip on their TVs right now, they're likely to see at least one -- a political ad slinging mud at a presidential candidate.

As Tuesday's statewide caucuses approach, they're more likely to see many more. Viewers in Florida reported seeing as many as 12 political ads an hour in the runup to that state's Jan. 31 primary. The campaigns and super PACs that bought these ads have now turned their attention from Florida -- where they spent tens of millions of dollars on local media buys -- to Minnesota.

These attack ads by their very nature are negative. But they can also be misleading., which tracks accuracy in political messaging, found that the "avalanche of negativity" in recent Florida ads also contained a fair share of distortions and outright lies.

... Read the full oped.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Obama Joins the Democracy Sell Off

President Obama succumbed late Monday to the dark logic of the Super PACs, instructing top West Wing staffers to help raise money for the so-called "independent" groups that have been successful in picking winners and losers thus far in 2012.

"We decided to do this because we can't afford for the work you're doing in your communities, and the grassroots donations you give to support it, to be destroyed by hundreds of millions of dollars in negative ads," Obama's campaign manager Jim Messina wrote supporters in an email Monday night.

This is no small news -- which explains why the New York Times placed this story on page one today -- as it signals that the president has reversed his earlier stance against working with Super PACs and joined others on the low road to political influence.