Special Report

Hyatt Hotel Money Funds War on Free Speech

ALEC newest target as Rush attack fails: Leaked MoveOn Memo threatened radio station.

By 4.17.12

Send to Kindle

It's war.

And no less than the Hyatt Hotel chain is funding the War on Free Speech.

Hyatt Hotels? Really?

Yes. Really.

Specifically through the Hyatt money given to Linda Pritzker, a Hyatt heiress whose billionaire fortune comes from ownership of Hyatt stock. Ms. Pritzker is well-known as a left-wing activist and, but of course, a supporter of President Obama. Nothing new there.

What's changed is that Pritzker's Hyatt fortune -- and the fortunes of others that come from some of America's most prominent commercial ventures -- is now being used to fuel a rapidly escalating War on Free Speech. A war with one target: conservatives.

The latest target, as we have documented, was Rush Limbaugh. After a furious assault -- long on the leftist action shelf years before Rush uttered the words "Sandra Fluke" -- the attack not only failed dismally, it backfired. Rush's audience increased between 10%-60%. While his left-wing antagonists at Media Matters, MoveOn.org, and elsewhere in the web of extremist hate groups were busy confecting "lost sponsors" -- 50…100…gasp…150!... -- in fact Rush lost a total of 4 -- 4! -- actual sponsors of his show. And he has sponsors lining up to replace them.

But the game changer here is that the left is no longer content to simply use its own free speech rights to make its case. Now there is an active, intensifying campaign to go after companies that advertise in politically incorrect venues (like The Rush Limbaugh Show) -- or have in any way contributed to any person or group whose activities displease.

As we have noted before, the targets have included Lou Dobbs, Glenn Beck, Pat Buchanan and in the last month, Rush Limbaugh. With, as noted here, Sean Hannity and Fox contributor and former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin on the list.

The other week we profiled how this game was being played with business executive Mark Stevens. Stevens' business -- and Stevens himself -- was abruptly inundated with threatening calls and e-mails demanding he remove his company's advertising from Rush's show as broadcast in the New York area -- or else. An incensed and decidedly heroic Stevens not only doubled down on his advertising as a result, he went on Fox News to directly take on the thugs -- saying in part that what was happening to him was part of a "Battle for America."

Stevens is right -- this is a Battle for America.

And nothing could illustrate this more clearly than the fact that even as the failed attack on Rush fades, a new assault on another target begins.

The newest assault on free speech is being unleashed on ALEC -- the American Legislative Exchange Council -- an attack funded by Hyatt money as funneled through MoveOn.org.

Why? Well, you see, ALEC supported the "Stand Your Ground" law in Florida. The law that has now surfaced in the Trayvon Martin case. (Then-Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who signed Stand Your Ground into law, has said flatly the law doesn't apply in this instance.) So, naturally, the left is using this as a pretext to defund ALEC -- going after sponsors like Coke, Kraft, McDonald's and others.

In other words, cut off the funding -- and hence the free speech -- of a conservative organization that has effectively presented conservative principles on various issues to state legislatures around the country. No less than ex-Obama aide Van Jones is helping to lead the charge on this, as seen here in this appearance on MSNBC.

As with the drive to get Rush, MoveOn is in the lead on getting ALEC as well.

So let's see how it's done, shall we?

Let's take a moment to see how fortunes from corporate America have directly funded both the failed attack on Rush -- and then moved on to ALEC. Where, wonder of wonders, MoveOn.org -- recipient of all this corporate cash -- then goes after….corporations!

First, the Center for Responsive Politics and its "Open Secrets" site have published the "Top Contributors" to MoveOn from back in 2004. Taken from the March, 2012 IRS listing, this was a period when billionaire George Soros's contributions had what Washington Examiner journalist and author Byron York described in his highly instructive book The Vast Left Wing Conspiracy as a "pump-priming effect." Attracting other big donors to MoveOn whose fortunes had been derived from corporate America. Among those contributors ($200,000) was Jared Polis, whom York described in his book as "the twenty-nine-year-old Colorado-based Internet entrepreneur Jared Polis." One of Polis's ventures was Pro-Flowers, one of the original departing sponsors of Rush Limbaugh's show. While Polis has since sold the company to Liberty Media and it is now run by a subsidiary, Provide Commerce, as we noted here, the CEO of Provide Commerce is a campaign contributor to -- yes -- now Congressman Jared Polis.

The IRS listing of Soros and a few of his "pump primers" for MoveOn reports the contributions included:

Soros Fund Management -- $2,601,000

Peter B Lewis/Progressive Corp -- $2,500,000 (Note: This is Progressive Insurance, the company whose cutesy ads featuring the Progressive saleswoman "Flo" (as seen here) are everywhere on TV these days.

DreamWorks Animation SKG -- $100,000 (Note, this is the animation division of the famous film studio founded by Hollywood liberals Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and David Geffen. The company's films include Shrek, Kung Fu Panda, The Prince of Egypt, and many more popular favorites.

• Lewis Cullman -- $100,000: (Note: You may not recognize the name of the man York accurately calls a "New York businessman and philanthropist." But chances are you would indeed recognize the company that served as the foundation for the Cullman fortune, as seen here in this commercial. That's right: Orkin Pest Control began providing Lewis Cullman with the serious cash that was used to help prime MoveOn's pump.

We could go on here, but you get the point. Money made in commercial and considerably corporate ventures as different as selling insurance, making movies, and killing roaches is being used by leftists to stamp out conservative speech when funded in part by other corporations. The MoveOn crowd crows about their small donors -- people like Linda Pritzker. Without noting, of course, that in Pritzker's case her money is quite publicly listed as having come from her inheritance to part of the Hyatt fortune. Or in other words, the treatment dished out to Mark Stevens and his MCO marketing business by the left is now being dished to companies like Coca-Cola, Kraft and McDonald's -- fueled by corporate cash from heirs to empires like Hyatt. With the death of Trayvon Martin being ruthlessly exploited as the cause to shut off another avenue of free speech.

Why focus on Hyatt heiress Pritzker?

Linda Pritzker is listed as having donated $2,000 directly to the MoveOn.org Political Action Committee in December of 2007. Is that a lot of money? No. (Although the Washington Post reported she gave $4 million to a now extinct Soros-group for the 2004 presidential campaign of Senator John Kerry, America Coming Together.)

But at this point, with leftists working their way in systematic fashion through a who's who of conservative radio and television personalities, followed now by an attempt to silence ALEC -- all using the gambit of going after corporate sponsors -- then perhaps turnabout is fair play.

The fact of the matter is that Linda Pritzker would not be a billionairess today if not for the money she has received from the Hyatt Hotel chain. She has used the money she inherited from her Hyatt connection to give it to a group -- MoveOn.org -- intent on intimidating corporations who have, in a civic fashion, given to organizations of both the right and left.

SO LET'S LOOK AT WHAT Hyatt money is doing in the War on Free Speech.

Here's a leaked e-mail from the Hyatt Hotel-funded MoveOn.org obtained by The American Spectator. The issue at hand was silencing Rush Limbaugh. The radio station targeted is WHP-radio in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Take a look. 

Dear MoveOn member,

Rush Limbaugh's verbal assault on Georgetown University student Sandra Fluke, calling her a "slut" and a "prostitute," was intended to do one thing: intimidate women who would dare to speak out for their reproductive freedom.

But this time Limbaugh has gone too far, and it has sparked a nationwide backlash. Local stations, like WHP 580 in Harrisburg, as well as Clear Channel, the company that syndicates the Rush Limbaugh show, are feeling major pressure. So far, 140 major advertisers have pulled their ads from the Limbaugh show -- including corporations like General Motors, McDonald's, and State Farm.

1. Station by station, outraged listeners are organizing to get Rush off the air -- and succeeding. At least two stations have already canceled his show

2. Now, we're launching a nationwide rapid response campaign to help get Rush's show off of public airwaves, period. Every station in America that carries Rush Limbaugh's show should be getting petitions, phone calls, and protests at their front door demanding an end to Limbaugh's bullying of women.

This will send an unmistakable message that we will no longer tolerate those who would bully women into silence. But we need to raise $200,000 to fund this urgent work. Can you chip in?

I'll chip in $5 to help get Rush Limbaugh off the air.

There's a huge grassroots movement calling out Rush, and some great leadership from MoveOn members as well as groups like UltraViolet, SumOfUs, and Media Matters for America. Our strategy to amp it up is to arm local MoveOn members with the online organizing tools to launch their own campaigns calling on local stations to cancel the Limbaugh show.

In fact, we've developed a whole online organizing platform called SignOn.org that's perfectly positioned to support these efforts, and it's spreading like wildfire. SignOn provides local progressives with the basic tools to run their own MoveOn-style actions for free. It also connects local leaders with expert advice on Internet organizing, and the possibility of support of millions of other MoveOn members.

And MoveOn members have already used SignOn to launch campaigns to get Rush off the air in Buffalo, Kansas City, Las Vegas, California, Maine, Ohio, New York, and more. For example:

In New York City, MoveOn member Bill King delivered a petition to the offices of Premiere Radio, which broadcasts the Limbaugh show. Limbaugh's flagship station in New York City has lost so many advertisers that they actually broadcast a full minute of dead air last week instead of ads.

3. In Maine, MoveOn member Annie Finch organized a protest in front of the local Rush Limbaugh station to deliver her petition, and it became front page news in the local paper. She even got invited to debate the issue with the right-wing host of the show on before Limbaugh!

4. In Youngstown, Ohio, local state legislator and progressive champ Bob Hagan launched a petition calling on the local station to drop Limbaugh, collecting nearly 3,000 signatures in just a few days.

5. SignOn is always freely available for anyone to start an online petition. But with campaigns to stop Rush popping up around the country, we need to make sure we have the resources to help them out -- to pay for more organizer time, online support, and extra tech development. And we need to move quickly, while station managers are listening.

We have a real chance to get Rush Limbaugh off our public airwaves, and if we can do it it will send an unmistakeable [sic] message to all the other right-wing bullies who want to attack women's basic rights and silence women as they do. Can you chip in $5 to support our efforts and help get Rush Limbaugh off the air?

Yes, I can give $5.

Thanks for all you do.

--Anna, Elena, Steven, Stefanie, and the rest of the team

Sources:

1. "EXCLUSIVE: 140 Companies Drop Advertising From Rush Limbaugh," Think Progress, March 12, 2012

http://www.moveon.org/r?r=272638&id=37115-18178830-y42UU_x&t=4

2. "Pittsfield station dumps Rush Limbaugh," The Boston Globe, March 07, 2012

http://www.moveon.org/r?r=272607&id=37115-18178830-y42UU_x&t=5

3. "Rush Limbaugh Closes First Hour With Dead Air," Media Matters, March 08, 2012

http://mediamatters.org/blog/201203080008

4. "WGAN: Limbaugh show stays on the air," Portland Press Herald, March 9, 2012

http://www.moveon.org/r?r=272606&id=37115-18178830-y42UU_x&t=6

5. "Local anti-Limbaugh effort gets 2,743 signatures; national figures join fray," The Youngstown Vindicator, March 11, 2012

http://www.moveon.org/r?r=272605&id=37115-18178830-y42UU_x&t=7

Want to support our work? MoveOn Civic Action is entirely funded by our 5 million members -- no corporate contributions, no big checks from CEOs. And our tiny staff ensures that small contributions go a long way. Chip in here.

Just to the side of all this was a box with the words:

Rush Limbaugh has gone too far, calling Sandra Fluke a "slut" and a "prostitute" in an attempt to bully women into silence. We're racing to support local campaigns to get Rush's show pulled off radio stations like WHP 580 in Harrisburg. Can you chip in $5 help get Rush Limbaugh off the air?

Followed by a button to click that reads: "I'll Chip In."

Now.

Ignore the small cascade of outright lies in this little jewel of high-tech literary fascism. That Rush was about doing one thing: "intimidate women who would dare to speak out for their reproductive freedom" or that sponsors (140!) were fleeing (the number, again, was four). And so on and so on, yada yada yada.

Let's stay focused on what and how this particular bit of leftist thuggery is performed.

Begin with this:

But this time Limbaugh has gone too far, and it has sparked a nationwide backlash. Local stations, like WHP 580 in Harrisburg, as well as Clear Channel, the company that syndicates the Rush Limbaugh show, are feeling major pressure. So far, 140 major advertisers have pulled their ads from the Limbaugh show -- including corporations like General Motors, McDonald's, and State Farm.

What do we learn here?

The "nationwide backlash": This so-called "nationwide backlash" was manufactured from start to finish by groups like MoveOn.Org and Media Matters. Remember, this was a missive to someone in the listening reach of Rush's show on WHP 580 in Harrisburg. Doubtless this exact same e-mail was fine-tuned, tailored to MoveOn.org members across the country, with the ID for their local radio station carefully supplied to make certain that the station in question was feeling "major pressure." The objective? Supply the necessary info to goad MoveOn thugs to intimidate WHP just as the left tried to intimidate Mark Stevens. The attempt failed miserably -- but is going to be used again.

The corporate targets: Specific mention is made of "corporations like General Motors, McDonald's and State Farm." Were this football, this reference would be the recent scandal in which an NFL assistant coach was accused of paying players to take out their opponents by deliberately inflicting serious injury. Or, as it was widely quoted from said assistant coach: "Kill the f…g head." In the world of radio that would be sponsors -- corporate sponsors.

Silence the opposition. Period. Says the memo: "Now, we're launching a nationwide rapid response campaign to help get Rush's show off of public airwaves, period." No explanation needed.

A new high tech method designed to bully conservatives: What's new in this drive to bully conservatives into silence? Says MoveOn with Hyatt money:

There's a huge grassroots movement calling out Rush, and some great leadership from MoveOn members as well as groups like UltraViolet, SumOfUs, and Media Matters for America. Our strategy to amp it up is to arm local MoveOn members with the online organizing tools to launch their own campaigns calling on local stations to cancel the Limbaugh show.

In fact, we've developed a whole online organizing platform called SignOn.org that's perfectly positioned to support these efforts, and it's spreading like wildfire. SignOn provides local progressives with the basic tools to run their own MoveOn-style actions for free. It also connects local leaders with expert advice on Internet organizing, and the possibility of support of millions of other MoveOn members. 

Remember this one above. We will come back to it.

Involve government to silence conservatives: "In Youngstown, Ohio, local state legislator and progressive champ Bob Hagan launched a petition calling on the local station to drop Limbaugh…." In other words, a government official was using the weight of his office to shut off free speech.

After reading this instructive little MoveOn missive, we discovered something else. 

Remember the reference above to something called "SignOn.org"? Which "provides local progressives with the basic tools to run their own MoveOn-style actions for free. It also connects local leaders with expert advice on Internet organizing, and the possibility of support of millions of other MoveOn members."

While the Get Rush effort failed abysmally, as mentioned the next target is ALEC.

And what have we found?

Sure enough, as promised, "SignOn.org" is being used to bully into silence those who disagree with the left. Take a look:

Here the effort is to force the resignation of a Florida state legislator, described as an "ALEC sock puppet" -- to resign. Reason: Rep. Rachel Burgin supported cutting corporate taxes.

• Here the idea is to portray ALEC in Oregon as "unaccountable."

This one isn't from SignOn.org -- it's from another lefty group, "Policymic." The end game is the same. Bully corporate America.

Conclusion?

Again, it's time to fight back.

The goal of the Left is to use the money generated by American corporations -- like Hyatt or Orkin or Dream Works -- to fund a War on Free Speech using MoveOn.Org or other leftist groups as a proxy.

Free speech for me -- but not for thee.

Only weeks ago it was Rush.

Now it's ALEC.

Who will be next?

Like this Article

Print this Article

Print Article
About the Author
Jeffrey Lord is a former Reagan White House political director and author. He writes from Pennsylvania at jlpa1@aol.com.