Montana Politics The Media

Breaking News from the Watchdog! Someone Read Them

Shares


In what will surely (and finally) get the notice of the Pulitzer people, Montana’s best anddhurst most unbiased political reporter has been repeatedly flogging a SIMPLY ASTONISHING story all day—a story, that when the truth is revealed, will show some people at or near the White House visited Watchdog.org, a faux news, Koch-funded opinion organ, 60 whole times over 1,261 days.  And those scoundrels at the IRS? They visited 456 times over the the period between January 2009-May 2013.

That’s almost once every 20 days for the White House and almost once every three days from the IRS. Now, there’s no telling how these views got there. I imagine even bored staffers at the IRS and White House sometimes Google things like “least credible news site in America” or “Name one thing worse than Fox News” once in awhile.

Read this breaking news, friends in the media world, and weep that you are not this kind of intrepid reporter:

According to Google analytics, the IRS generated 456 unique visitors, between January 2009 and May 2013. The report notes 552 visits and 709 page views from the IRS. Most of the traffic occurred between the second half of 2012 and this week.

One day in December, watchdog.org received more than 100 visits from the tax agency.

The analytics show 60 unique visitors and 84 page views to Watchdog.org from eop.gov, the Executive Office of the President, between December 2009 and May 2013.

Those who follow Montana politics and the media no doubt remember their sad efforts to defeat Jon Tester in the 2012 Senate and their subsequent disappearance from state coverage once the race was over.

The best part of this sad attempt at a story is not even that a corporately-funded effort to shape and control media coverage in the country is pretending to have been victimized by the IRS scandal. It’s not even the spectacle of one of their “reporters” desperately tweeting the non-story to the right wing echo chamber all day.  It’s that, lost in the collective right-wing hernia about the TEA Party being picked on by the IRS, is the fact that the Citizens United decision has made it almost impossible to regulate these dark money groups. As Time’s Alex Altman notes:

All this outrage threatens to obscure an important point: the IRS does need to crack down on political groups masquerading as social-welfare organizations. Many of the nonprofit groups who claim 501(c)(4) status either flout tax law or flirt with the murky line between electioneering and issue advocacy, all while using their tax-exempt status to conceal their donors. The problem isn’t that the IRS flagged nonprofit groups for additional review. The problem is that it did so poorly, lavishing special attention on Tea Party outfits when it should have been scrutinizing everyone — or at least more egregious offenders.

This is easier said than done. After the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in January 2010, donors flocked to 501(c)(4)s as a vehicle to pump cash into elections without disclosing the source of their contributions. The number of groups applying for social-welfare status has since doubled. In 2012, the news outlet ProPublica examined 72 501(c)(4) applications from groups that claimed to have no plans to spend money on elections. They compared those documents against the subsequent tax returns. Nearly half of the groups found their plans had changed.

There’s no doubt that some employees at the IRS behaved inappropriately in this whole debacle, but the very people who should be better regulated to control the spread of corporate influence are hardly best positioned to be making the case for reform. Even if their traffic SURGED to a couple of hits a week.

P.S. There’s always an addendum on the stories about these people. Of course, they got their facts wrong. About their own Google Analytics numbers.

dffd

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a seventeen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

2 Comments

  • One group who has no Business with a social welfare exemption….. I would like to see them audited.

    Watchdog Koch Funded, Koch approved! And least we forget did they conveniently forget how many times the IRS people investigated democratic orgs during Bushes presidency?

    Yeah the short memories of the GOPwatchdogs of Koch and Rove!!!

  • We were all hoping that the Watchdog would get something right. Too bad they fell short.

    The “traffic sources” page on Google Analytics shows which pages other visitors were viewing right before going to watchdog.org, not where the user’s computer is based. The user’s computer would be labeled with a IP address (which Google Analytics does not show), not labeled as IRS.gov (a name only used by their webserver) The only thing the Watchdog reported is that they had 60 people referred to Watchdog.gov from eop.gov. (which admittedly, is still confusing: Why did the IRS & White House have links to Watchdog?)

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: