Gary is taking a break this week from consulting, blogging and politics. He invited several TAPsters to contribute blogs during his hiatus. Here’s one of them:
Art Pope likely has never thought of himself as allied with the oft-bashed-as-liberal news media, but the mainstream media has succeeded in giving undeserved credibility to Pope’s squadron of institutes that serve as cheerleaders for partisan Republican causes.
News media now regularly quote the Pope-bankrolled Civitas Institute in news stories with no hint of its conservative orientation.
Moreover, smaller newspapers around the state, desperate for content after the newspaper business laid off reporters in droves, have begun running Civitas reports as news stories, even though the biased reports lack opposing viewpoints.
Mind you that Civitas is unlike some of Pope’s other dollar store think tanks, like the John Locke Foundation, which publishes agenda-driven research and news stories. Civitas has an appendage that funds, operates and executes campaigns to defeat Democrats, while maintaining the defense that its campaign operation, Civitas Action, is separate from the institute. Never mind that the same guy runs them both. This is like a McDonald’s manager arguing that the drive-through is a separate operation.
Even larger mainstream publications, like the News & Observer, are providing credibility for Pope’s operations. The N&O’s John Frank recently wrote a front page story on the Republican-led legislature’s midnight session – the one devoted to passing legislation that undermines the state teachers association after the group stood up to GOP education cuts. The story examined whether, among other flaws, the legislature’s session was constitutionally convened. Frank quoted two experts: a scholar at UNC’s Institute of Government and a top lawyer at Pope’s N.C. Institute for Constitutional Law. The Pope lawyer (who, not surprisingly, said that the General Assembly’s procedure was fine) was quoted without any qualifier about NCICL, such as Pope’s funding or its six-member board that includes two men who held state office and one who ran statewide – all as Republicans. Frank failed even to mention that House Speaker Thom Tillis’ legal counsel, whose job would include advising Tillis on issues such as the constitutionality of the 1 a.m. session, was hired directly from – wait for it – NCICL.
Congratulations, Mr. Pope. Your institutes have arrived, and what’s left of the mainstream media paid for the ticket.