More fun with corporate propaganda

The man behind SourceWatch. We are not worthy.


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Andrew Leonard
May 19, 2006 9:24PM (UTC)

In its ongoing campaign to alert readers to the absurd allegations of corporate propagandists, the Wall Street Journal tells us today about an anti-union television ad produced by the Center for Union Facts. Again, the Journal doesn't bother to investigate whether there is any merit to such allegations as "union discrimination against minorities." It simply repeats them. Couldn't a single call for comment have been made to, say, the Services Employees International Union, which represents hundreds of thousands of Latino workers?

Readers of yesterday's post about similar attacks on Eric Schlosser and "Fast Food Nation" poured considerable scorn on expecting anything better from the Journal. But I'll push back on that -- I've been subscribing to the Journal for a decade because it is an invaluable source of solid financial reporting that breaks a lot of news. I normally find it pretty trustworthy, if I avoid the editorials. But two such pieces in two days is a little much.

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And yet, I'm glad to have read it, because now I can add the name Rick Berman to How the World Works' rogues' gallery. Like our favorite punching bags, Steve Milloy and the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Berman is a frontman for corporate interests. But he may be the most prolific of them all. In addition to the Center for Union Facts, he also runs the Employment Policy Institute and the Center for Consumer Freedom. For detailed background, as usual, SourceWatch has copious facts to offer.

And here's where I'd like to shift the spotlight for a second. We like nothing better here at How the World Works than whacking corporate tools, but it does get a little tiring sometimes, endlessly swinging a machete at their hydra-heads. Let's try a change of pace. While reading up on Berman, I ran across a mention of John Stauber, an environmental activist who founded the Center for Media and Democracy, an organization that provides a host of useful services, not least the invaluable SourceWatch, a collaboratively produced watchdog run along the lines of Wikipedia.

John Stauber has made it his life work to expose corporate propagandists. We can only kowtow in awe before him. We are not worthy. Here's his profile, along with a slick video interview. But all you really need to know about where he's coming from is one line from the page on "financial supporters" at the Center for Media and Democracy's home page.

"The Center does not accept corporate or government grants."

Show me a line like that on the Web site for a nonprofit "research center" that is bashing unions, or telling us why raising the minimum wage is bad, or eating at McDonald's is good, or global warming is nothing to worry about. Then maybe I'll pay attention. In the meantime, all hail John Stauber. His Guerrilla News Network profile concludes with the following quote: "Kick butt or die, but have fun and love life and your neighbors."

I'm down with that, as long my neighbors aren't Steve Milloy or Rick Berman.


Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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