Steven Greenhut, executive for the poorly-named Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity whines about reports revealing Charles Koch as a primary donor.
March 14, 2013

Here's a Franklin Center for Public Integrity tribute to the journalism of Andrew Breitbart.

What is it about right wing organizations who complain about so-called "liberal bias," set out to counterbalance said perception of bias with right wing hackery, and then when the money trail leads to a billionaire, they whine?

Steven Greenhut with the inaccurately-named Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity took to the pages of the Huffington Post to whine:

But in mid-February, the game started again. Another left-wing, foundation-funded journalism group, the Center for Public Integrity, released a report about our funding. Media Matters wrote about us yet again, and its headline captured the gist of all these stories: "Franklin Center Top Donor Is Right-Wing's 'Dark Money ATM.'"

We expect these groups to target us. That's their mission. Here's where it gets disturbing. Their circular hype -- I write about you and then you write about me writing about you -- caused enough of a stir to prompt some prominent journalism enterprises to bite at the story. First, the London-based Guardian newspaper published a piece headlined, "Media campaign against wind farms funded by anonymous conservatives."

My editors and I couldn't immediately recall even running any articles about wind farms, let alone leading a campaign against them. But there we were in a major news publication described as the cat's paw for "conservative billionaires who are funding the anti-climate cause."

The author, Suzanne Goldenberg, never contacted us. She regurgitated the CPI "findings." We tried to respond. Nearly two weeks after the story ran, we finally heard back from the Guardian's readers' editor. He wouldn't print a rebuttal, but agreed to include my letter in the comments section and link from the story to the comment. He edited the letter significantly, removing the key fact that Goldenberg never contacted us while she reported the story. His explanation: Our criticism of the reporter was "ad hominem."

These elite journalists can say what they want about us, but any of my reporters who did such shoddy work would now be unemployed.

Huh. Standards at the Franklin Center? I guess Greenhut forgot to fire the person who reported on Kyle Wood's lie about being attacked for supporting a Republican candidate last year. Remember that one?

Kyle Wood, described as a "full-time volunteer" for the Republican congressional candidate Chad Lee, last week told the right-wing website the Daily Caller, that he had been physically attacked and choked in his Madison apartment by an unknown assailant for being gay but supporting a Republican running against a gay Democrat. The odd tale, accompanied by staged-looking photos, was picked up by the Franklin Center site Wisconsin Reporter and Breitbart blog. The Dane County GOP weighed in, issuing a statement backing Wood and his bona fides: "Wood is a full-time volunteer working with GOP 2nd District Congressional candidate, Chad Lee. He is brilliant, liked and respected by all who have worked alongside him on Lee's campaign."

But the story went mainstream when a legitimate new source, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, took the bait. Christian Schneider, a columnist that believes that "early voting is bad for democracy," detailed Wood's allegations in an online column on October 28. Schneider, a fellow at the right-wing Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, later retracted the story while fatuously patting himself on the back for having doubts about it in the first place.

I don't recall the Franklin Center retracting their article about it. If they did, they certainly did it quietly. I just tried a search on the site with Kyle Wood and Chad Lee and found no results, so I guess they pulled that post. But I didn't hear of any heads rolling over it.

On the other hand, there are several articles about wind farms, and one in particular claiming "they blow."

Greenhut is apparently upset that our reports, while providing himself and other Franklin Center leaders with the opportunity to defend the group, revealed that the organization is funded by a massive right-wing donor organization; staffed by former employees of groups backed by the Koch brothers; makes even editors who use the outlet's reports uneasy due to its ideological bent; and has had its affiliates denied credentials by some statehouse reporters associations.

While Greenhut downplays the story as concluding "that conservatives fund and work for conservative-oriented groups," which he terms "no big deal," the fact that such "conservative-oriented" journalism is explicitly designed to be reprinted in local and state papers and fill the void caused by the slashing of statehouse reporting staffs in recent years is very much a point of interest.

More importantly, how can Greenhut claim integrity and transparency while wailing over the public receiving information about who signs his paychecks?

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