The Tennessean Strikes Again

More corporate astroturfing from The Tennessean? I know, y’all are shocked!

Our local fishwrap ran a hit piece on electric vehicles today, using the National Center for Public Policy Research as its source. This group is another one of those right-wing think tanks funded by the usual suspects (Scaife, Olin and Bradley foundations, as well as Philip Morris and ExxonMobil). They have an anti-environmental agenda, and have been on the, um, “leading edge” of climate change denial since the ’90s. They’re pro-fracking, pro-drilling, and anti-endangered species. Their president is Amy Moritz Ridenour, who recently found her way over here to comment on my “There Is No Light Bulb Ban” post. Basically these are people who if they saw a butterfly floating by, they’d stomp on it.

I’d forgotten about Ridenour’s NCPPR connection (funny, since it was just a few days ago. D’oh!), but I remembered they were in the news for laundering Tom DeLay’s travel money. The organization set off big Jack Abramoff bells with me, as well. So I Google’d. Ah yes: Abramoff was a former board member and used this organization to distribute some of his Choctaw donations:

Another scholar whose Abramoff Fellowship has gone largely unquestioned is Amy Ridenour, who was and remains president of the right-wing National Center for Public Policy Research. Ridenour received some unwelcome attention last year when she testified before a Senate committee investigating Abramoff’s activities. The subject was a $1 million grant that Abramoff, a longtime friend of Ridenour’s who served on her board, funneled from his client, the Mississippi Choctaw Indian tribe, through NCPPR. Some of the money ended up in Abramoff’s pocket. Ridenour testified that she was unaware of the latter transaction. But why did she agree to let NCPPR be a front group for these contributions in the first place? And why did she similarly agree to put NCPPR’s imprimatur on a congressional junket that Abramoff led to Great Britain, one that famously included a stop at the St. Andrews golf course in Scotland? (Ridenour has said she didn’t know in advance about this side trip.)

Ah, well. That’s all water under the bridge. But you know, it’s a little odd that The Tennessean never even identified the NCPPR as a conservative group — something I believe the organization itself openly admits. Their website identifies them as a group

supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.

Isn’t that code for, “Hey we’re a conservative group supportive of the Republican Party!” You’d think The Tennessean would have mentioned their source’s partisan leanings. Sadly, no.

And as for Bonner Cohen, the “senior fellow” they quoted? Let’s ask SourceWatch:

Bonner Cohen headed EPA Watch, which received funding from Philip Morris. He purported to edit EPA Watch as an independent newsletter published and distributed by the non-profit American Policy Center, but in fact it was a publication of the APCO & Associates PR Group, originally owned by Philip Morris’s Washington legal firm, Arnold & Porter (ie A&P Co = APCO)

During this time he shared the work with Steve Milloy (“Junkman”), who was running the organization known as The Advancement for Sound Science Coalition (TASSC), which purported to be a grass-roots, sound-science organization, but which was originally a tobacco industry front (run also by APCO) pushing a “sound science” line.

Milloy clearly wrote a number of the articles published in EPA Watch, and Cohen eventually became listed as President of TASSC when it moved from being a vehicle just for defense of the tobacco industry, to having a wider agenda, opposing government attempts to regulate a number of polluting industries for the benefit of public health.

A Philip Morris document states that EPA Watch was an “asset” established to assist Philip Morris achieve a broader impact than just on the issue of second-hand smoke. Another Philip Morris document argues the need to “develop a plan for EPA Watch / Bonner Cohen as expert on EPA matters, i.e. regular syndicated radio features on EPA activities.”

Oh, so in other words, another corporate astroturfer. Yeah, we figured as much.

The only thing that would make this more perfect is if The Tennessean got Bonner Cohen to write a “Tennessee Voices” column.

Hey, Tennessean: you still suck. But don’t worry, you’re apparently in good company.

5 Comments

Filed under astroturfing, electric car, media manipulation, right wing, The Tennessean

5 responses to “The Tennessean Strikes Again

  1. Actually, we are pro-endangered species.

  2. Yes, this nice little fact sheet advocating clear-cutting and other “free market solutions” is a lovely piece of anti-environmental propaganda.

  3. There is more wood grown in the U.S. than is cut each year, and the number of acres planted with trees goes up nearly every year. Not since 1933 has the amount of wood harvested exceeded the amount of wood grown. Also, there are more trees in the United States today than there were in the 1920’s.

    Can’t be arsed to go through the whole sheaf of crap, but this by itself is so much horseshit. It’s a common refrain from someone who wants to excuse clear-cutting and over-harvesting practices.

    It is true, as far as a it goes. What it DOES NOT say, is that the wood being harvested from the 30s on was old growth, high density high quality lumber, while the trees being planted now are bred for fast growth, at the expense of the density and quality of the wood. Anybody in the construction industry will tell you that forced-growth wood is much inferior to natural growth, full of flaws and just generally smaller and weaker. Modern lumber grading is partially a response to the fact that forced growth wood is less structurally capable than old growth, and reduced capacity categories had to be added so that structural analysis would be accurate-and safe.

    But that’s the conservative answer all the time isn’t it? Fuck safety, if someone can make a buck or two.

    There are, of course, responsible wood harvesters. Better product and more sustainable practices. But not all, not by any means, and on a nationwide basis wood harvesting is still on the non-sustainable side, regardless of the raw acreage numbers.

  4. What Mr. Zombie Rotten McDonald says. Additionally, cutting old growth, mixes hardwood forests and replanting with trees like spruce, white pine, yellow pine and the like reduces bio-diversity to the extent that some species simply cannot live in the resulting “forests”.

    The Ivory billed woodpecker was not exterminated (or nearly so, the jury’s still out) by shooting them all. Their habitat, mixed old growth, hardwoods and softwoods in warm, wet locales (LA, East TX, other places like them) was logged off. They couldn’t just move, so they just died.

    Southern Beale:

    You know what’s one of the worst things about the Astrodoofuses? The “turf” is like a bad toupee. It doesn’t fool anybody but those who want to be fooled.

    Amy, honey, lying for a paycheck is no way to go through life. Oh, wait, you’re a reptilican, never mind.

  5. You know what they say: there’s lies, damn lies and statistics. What I don’t get is why she’s wasting her time over here on some Tennessee housewife’s blog. Guess the astroturfing business isn’t as profitable as it once was, and why should it be now that SCOTUS allows Philip Morris and ExxonMobil to donate directly to their candidates? No middle man required!