The big news over the weekend revolved around a potentially-explosive accusation from Democratic Party that there are shadowy foreign interests funneling money through the Chamber of Commerce to influence our elections.
I say “potentially-explosive” because the only ones actually taking the story seriously are the Democrats. That is because there’s nothing even approaching plausible proof for the charge. Let me lay the Democrats’ case out for you, as outlined here by its originator, Think Progress’ Lee Fang (more on that name later).
- The Chamber of Commerce gets money in dues from foreign corporations who are members of the Chamber’s foreign bureaus. The total amount of money raised this way may well mount into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
- All of that money goes into Chamber’s general fund.
- The Chamber of Commerce may spend as much as $75 million dollars to defeat Democratic candidates whose policies run directly counter to its members’ interests. If any of that money comes from foreign donors, it is a violation of Federal election law.
- Thanks to the scurrilous United States Supreme Court, the Chamber of Commerce does not have to reveal who its foreign donors are and has steadfastly refused to do so. And so…
- The Chamber of Commerce is committing unprecedented violations of Federal election law because, obviously, it is using all that foreign money to fuel its campaign ads.
- Democracy will now crumble thanks to the influence of shadowy foreigners, which is really the goal of capitalists anyhow.
Now, you’ve probably noticed that Fang’s accusation is missing something crucial: evidence. His reasoning (and oh how I had to resist putting quotation marks around that word) actually resembles Underpants Gnome logic where the step between taking foreign money and destroying democracy is filled with more question marks than Matthew Lesko’s closet. Fang is so far out on a limb that he even lost the New York Times editorial staff, who felt compelled to note that the Chamber’s activities didn’t appear to be “improper or even unusual”. Perhaps the Times remembered just how much illegal money Candidate Obama raised from foreign donors or how much more money Democrats get from foreign PACs than Republicans.
Now, where I come from, Fang’s story would have hit the trash can so fast that the sonic boom would have shattered windows. But Fang has a peculiar aptitude for writing particularly aerodynamic piles of bullshit for the Democratic message machine to fling like the chimpanzee version of Bullseye. David Axelrod, the Meisterflinger von Chicago, used Fang’s work as ammunition for a McCarthyite missileering performance so bravura that even Bob Schieffer had to make sure he hadn’t slipped back to the days of the HUAC. Even today, the White House is mostly standing by Fang’s fictional charge and the DNC, who loves Fang’s work like I love blog traffic, accused Republicans of “stealing our democracy”.
But the fact that Fang is involved ought to be a red flag that there is, shall we say, a truth deficit. However, it’s curious that his work seems to get into so many powerful Democratic hands so quickly. Let’s take a look at some of Fang’s most notable hit pieces from the past couple years.
April, 2009 – Fang accuses FreedomWorks, one of the few established conservative organizations to publicly back the Tea Party movement of being the astroturfing masterminds behind the whole thing. The “astroturfing” meme got repeated by Paul Krugman, Talking Points Memo, and Nancy Pelosi.
August, 2009 – Fang misrepresented a memo written by a local Tea Party member to less than a dozen of his friends as a grand strategy memo tied to FreedomWorks, one of the few large organizations backing the nascent movement at the time. The story made it to Rachel Maddow’s show on MS-NBC and a DNC advertisement.
May, 2010 – Fang posted the breathless revelation that telecom companies colluded to put down Net Neutrality legislation. His proof was a Powerpoint presentation that was actually created by a group of college students for a contest and cost them less than $200. That story hit some major tech blogs like Slashdot and Boing Boing.
July, 2010 – Fang pushed a Think Progress video that purported to show that Tea Partiers are racist. The video featured four different “activists” that Fang said demonstrated “the vile racism that has been exhibited at some Tea Party events”. It was all fiction. One quote was pulled out of context and actually made the opposite point of what Fang said it did. One quote came from a left-wing infiltrator there to discredit the Tea Parties. One came from a protest march in 2006, three years before anyone ever considered a Tea Party protest. One was more puzzling than racist. This story went big as well, though the corrections didn’t quite make the same kind of splash.
Now, I can understand one story slipping past Think Progress well-paid editorial staff, but five? And after the second one, you’d think that intellectually-honest people would check Fang’s work so as not to get burned yet again by a guy who I’m willing to say is paid to churn out innuendo masquerading as real news. It makes you wonder just how devoted to telling the truth Barack Obama, David Axelrod, Tim Kaine, and the rest of the Democratic Party really is. If they valued honesty and fair election campaigning, they’d denounce Think Progress and Lee Fang and demand better work from them.
Don’t hold your breath. John Podesta, the man behind Think Progress, is a powerful lobbyist (as is his wife) and key to millions of dollars worth of free advertising and propaganda. The Democrats would just as soon lop off their right arms as denounce anything he does.
UPDATE: Melissa Clouthier: Should the President have the Supreme Court at the top of his enemies list?