While I was unable to attend the Franklin Center/Montana Watchdog Citizen blogger event today as I was job creating in my small business, the recap provided by Dave Budge over at the Electric City Weblog made it clear that I probably made the right choice not to attend.
It’s not that I mind listening to an even arguing with conservatives. My problem is that this organization is deliberately misleading readers in its news coverage and deliberately misled in its presentation today.
While the event was billed as non-partisan, other than the truly non-partisan Money in State Politics, the roster of speakers was confined to speakers who are conservative or paranoid-conservative.
Who were some of the guests the non-partisan event invite to speak?
- Tabitha Hale, who was billed as the “new media outreach person at the Franklin Center,” discussed new media. She’s the former New Media Director for FreedomWorks and a blogger at the rabidly conservative RedState. While there, she wrote some entirely non-partisan pieces on unions, Harry Reid, and the 2010 election, in which she offered this non-partisan commentary: “ Here’s the thing: Republicans are undoubtedly going to win next Tuesday. We will pick up house seats and some Senate seats. You control how many seats we will win.”
- The keynote speaker was Catherine Engelbrech of True the Vote, a TEA Party-affiliated organization dedicated to fighting illusory Democratic voter fraud and UN involvement in American elections. Her organization was deeply involved in the non-partisan effort to keep Scott Walker in office.
- Joe Balyeat, former Republican legislator and current state director with Americans for Prosperity was also on hand to present some non-partisan views. During his time in the Legislature, Mr. Balyeat was known for his insulting, abrasive, and incredibly conservative views. Exactly a month ago, Mr. Balyeat was robo-calling Montana voters to attack Jon Tester.
Hardly a roster of independent, non-partisan thinkers.
This event comes on the heels of a Media Matters for America report which exposed the agenda of the Franklin Center’s media explosion:
But in several states, Franklin Center-affiliated sites have developed a reputation for promoting a right-wing slant, occasionally leading to those outlets being denied credentials or having their work rejected by newspapers.
We’ve seen this kind of coverage in Montana the past few months. When discredited reporter Dustin Hurst left the Idaho Reporter (another Franklin affiliate), he immediately brought his slanted, inaccurate reporting here to Montana.
Media Matters also specifically looked at these “citizen events” hosted by the Franklin Center:
Complicating the ethical dilemma confronting editors who would run Franklin Center reporting are the array of conservative events the group sponsors through its “citizen journalism” arm. These include a conservative blogger conference in April that featured discredited right-wing voices Dana Loesch and James O’Keefe. It also holds regular citizen watchdog training seminars that promote conservative principles and feature O’Keefe, Franklin Center staffers, and other conservative luminaries.
The Franklin Center contends that their mission is transparency. It’s time for them to demonstrate their real commitment to it—and own up to their conservative and corporate bias. They have every right to present conservative viewpoints, but they should demonstrate the intellectual honesty and ethical consistency to simply admit their profound bias.