Yesterday MSNBC’s garbage recycling team picked up a piece from the National Journal’s Major Garrett to post as journalism. Garrett was congressional reporter for Rev. Moon’s Washington Times in the 1990’s. After a stint at CNN, by 2002 he’d slithered down the journalistic food chain to Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes’ Fox News. There he brought the values he’d learned working for Rev. Moon’s propaganda outlet to giving Fox’s spin on the 2004 presidential campaign . He did so well spinning the 2004 campaign for Murdoch and Ailes that Fox assigned him to the 2008 Democratic presidential races, and then to cover Obama’s campaign. After that, the Fox propaganda machine chose him as White House “reporter”, where he faithfully served AIles and Murdoch for over a year before leaving for the National Journal. On his way out he slobbered over his patrons at Fox:
In making the announcement, Garrett said, “Slightly more than eight years ago, [FOX News Chairman & CEO] Roger Ailes, [former FOX News Executive Vice President] John Moody and [former FOX News Washington Managing Editor and current Senior Political Analyst] Brit Hume created a full-time reporting position for me in the Washington bureau. Our new Senior Vice President of News, Michael Clemente, has continued that support. Since August of 2002, the network and its top executives have given me every opportunity a journalist could hope for. I thank the network for giving me the chance to grow as a reporter and broadcaster.”
He continued, “Throughout my television career, I’ve known with certainty I would someday return to my roots in print journalism. That day has come. I will soon announce an exciting new phase of my career — one made possible in no small part by FOX News’ consistent support. It would take a lot — something near perfection — to lure me away from the best job I’ve ever had. Details to come.”
With nine years to “grow as a reporter”, nurtured by “every opportunity a journalist could hope for”, even a former hack from Rev. Moon’s propaganda shop could turn into one fine journalist, no? So how did Major Garrett do in the article MSNBC picked up from his “something near perfection” opportunity at the National Journal?
Yesterday Garrett described to his readers (and editors)
Americans for Prosperity, a grassroots coalition that pushed lower taxes and lower federal spending before the tea party existed.
Poor Major Garrett: with all those opportunities and his current “something near perfection” gig, he still hasn’t learned about Sourcewatch to check his sources.
What does Sourcewatch tell us about this “grasssroots coalition”?
Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is a group fronting special interests started by oil billionaire David Koch and Richard Fink (a member of the board of directors of Koch Industries). AFP has been accused of funding astroturf operations but also has been fueling the “Tea Party” efforts.  AFP’s messages are in sync with those of other groups funded by the Koch Family Foundations and the Koch’s other special interest groups that work against progressive or Democratic initiatives and protections for workers and the environment. Accordingly, AFP opposes labor unions, health care reform, stimulus spending, and cap-and-trade legislation, which is aimed at making industries pay for the air pollution that they create. AFP was also involved in the attacks on Obama’s “green jobs” czar, Van Jones, and has crusaded against international climate talks. According to an article in the August 30, 2010 issue of The New Yorker, the Kochs are known for “creating slippery organizations with generic-sounding names,” that “make it difficult to ascertain the extent of their influence in Washington.” AFP’s budget surged from $7 million in 2007 to $40 million in 2010, an election year. 
Poor readers: anyone who places their faith in Major Garrett, the National Journal, or MSNBC would have read Garrett’s post and come away believing AFP is a grassroots bottom-up group. They wouldn’t have learned AFP is – in reality – a billionaire funded top-down astroturf group created to make the billionaires’ values and agenda look like regular folks’ values and agenda.
Reading Garrett’s implicit comparison of the “grassroots coalition” AFP with the Tea Party, readers who trusted him, the National Journal, or MSNBC may even have bought the Big Lie that the Tea Party is a grassroots movement. They wouldn’t have learned the Tea Party – in reality – is simply another billionaire funded top-down astroturf group created by the Kochs’ AFP to make billionaires’ values and agenda look like normal people’s values and agenda.
The Tea Party Movement gained national attention in the summer of 2009 when organized protests occurred at Congressional “town hall” meetings that discussed healthcare reform.
While promoted as a spontaneous “grassroots” movement, many of the activities of Tea Party groups were organized by corporate lobbying groups….
In an article in the August 30, 2010 issue of The New Yorker magazine, author Jane Mayer links the billionaire brothers David Koch and Charles Koch, owners of Koch Industries to tea party movement funding. Mayer writes,
The anti-government fervor infusing the 2010 elections represents a political triumph for the Kochs. By giving money to “educate,” fund, and organize Tea Party protesters, they have helped turn their private agenda into a mass movement. Bruce Bartlett, a conservative economist and a historian, who once worked at the National Center for Policy Analysis, a Dallas-based think tank that the Kochs fund, said, “The problem with the whole libertarian movement is that it’s been all chiefs and no Indians. There haven’t been any actual people, like voters, who give a crap about it. So the problem for the Kochs has been trying to create a movement.” With the emergence of the Tea Party, he said, “everyone suddenly sees that for the first time there are Indians out there—people who can provide real ideological power.” The Kochs, he said, are “trying to shape and control and channel the populist uprising into their own policies.
Reports indicate that the Tea Party Movement benefits from millions of dollars from conservative foundations that are derived from wealthy U.S. families and their business interests. Is appears that money to organize and implement the Movement flows primarily through two conservative groups: Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks.
In an April 9, 2009 article on ThinkProgress.org, Lee Fang reports that the principal organizers of Tea Party events are Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Works, two “lobbyist-run think tanks” that are “well funded” and that provide the logistics and organizing for the Tea Party movement from coast to coast. Media Matters reported that David Koch of Koch Industries was a co-founder of Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE), the predecessor of FreedomWorks. David Koch was chairman of the board of directors of CSE. CSE received substantial funding from David Koch of Koch Industries, which is the largest privately-held energy company in the country, and the conservative Koch Family Foundations, which make substantial annual donations to conservative think tanks, advocacy groups, etc. Media Matters reported that the Koch family has given more than $12 million to CSE (predecessor of FreedomWorks) between 1985 and 2002.
Koch Industries has denied specifically funding Freedomworks or tea parties directly, however. The company’s director of communications wrote “”Koch companies value free speech and believe it is good to have more Americans engaged in key policy issues. That said, Koch companies, the Koch foundations, Charles Koch and David Koch have no ties to and have never given money to FreedomWorks. In addition, no funding has been provided by Koch companies, the Koch foundations, Charles Koch or David Koch specifically to support the tea parties.” Koch’s director of communications did affirm, however, that the company funds Americans for Prosperity (AFP). TPM’s Lee Fang reports that “AFP was founded in part by the company’s Executive Vice President, David Koch. He is currently the chairman of the board of the Americans for Prosperity Foundation.” 
Media Matters also lists the Sarah Scaife Foundation as having given a total of $2.96 million in funding to FreedomWorks. The Sarah Mellon Scaife Foundation is financed by the Mellon industrial, oil, and banking fortune. 
Media supportBrendan Steinhouser, Dir. of Federal and State Campaigns for FreedomWorks, discusses FreedomWorks’ role in organizing Tea Party movement events
Fox News support
The Tea Party has also gotten substantial support in the form of promotion from Fox News Channel and its talk show hosts, including Glenn Beck. Karl Frisch of Media Matters wrote that Fox News “frequently aired segments imploring its audience to get involved with tea-party protests across the country.” Fox has also provided organizing information for the events on air and online. 
After nine years to grow as a reporter at Fox, nurtured by “every opportunity a journalist could hope for”, and now in his “something near perfection” position at the National Journal, don’t you think Major Garrett would have learned how to check the sources he chooses to cite for his readers?
Don’t you think his editors at National Journal and the MSNBC editors who chose to run his piece would know how to check the sources for their readers?
Of course Major Garrett knows how check sources – even if he proclaims he’s never heard of Sourcewatch. Same goes for his editors at National Journal and the MSNBC editors who chose to run his piece.
Why didn’t he check? Why didn’t his editors at National Journal check his sources? Why didn’t the MSNBC editors check?
Best explanation I can find comes from Upton Sinclair.
“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”
There’s a world of difference between Upton Sinclair and Major Garrett (and Garrett’s editors at National Journal and the MSNBC editors who ran his piece). Upton Sinclair was a real journalist: during America’s Progressive era, he pioneered the sort of journalism we now call “muckraking”. Muckraking journalists challenge the powerful. They don’t serve as stenographers for billionaires. They’re pretty much the antithesis of the “journalists” who sign up to serve Rev. Moon and Rodger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch. Muckrakers rake through the muck the billionaires spew out, so they can challenge the lies of power.
Stark contrast with Major Garrett, who slurps up the muck Fox spewed and spills it out as fact. Stark contrast with the editors who chose to look the other way and not check Garrett’s sources.
Why wouldn’t all these highpowered well-paid professional opinion shapers want to use Sourcewatch? Here’s the most obvious reason: Sourcewatch is published by the Center for Media and Democracy. Sourcewatch’s purpose?
SourceWatch profiles the activities of front groups, PR spinners, industry-friendly experts, industry-funded organizations, and think tanks trying to manipulate public opinion on behalf of corporations or government. We also highlight key public policies they are trying to affect and provide ways to get involved.
You know – the purpose the people we call “journalists” used to have.
Garrett’s career – and his editors’ choices about yesterday’s piece – show us all how the lot of them have nothing to with genuine media, or genuine democracy. On the contrary: Garrett’s work and his editors’ choices show us that when it comes to actions, they act to serve the billioniares.
Who does Major Garrett serve? He’s a Koch-sucker.
Just like the editors at National Journal and the MSNBC editors who passed his propaganda on to their readers as journalism.