Washington Prowler

Such a Thing as Free Press

A left-wing letter unravels a vast left-wing conspiracy.

By 7.1.10

The leftist organization Free Press, sensing that it is losing the political and policy battle at the Federal Communications Commission over "net neutrality," organized a letter from about 150 nonprofit and charitable organizations in support of federal government regulation of the Internet, or "net neutrality."

Free Press is the astroturf and political organization founded by Marxist and Obama supporter, Robert McChesney. The group has advocated for government regulation of the Internet and taxpayer-supported media, among other issues. It is an organization that has refused to divulge its funding sources, but of late, the MacArthur and Ford Foundations have admitted to giving millions to the organization, and sources with knowledge of the group claim that Free Press also receives funds from the Tides Foundation and such labor organizations as the SEIU.

The Tides is a leftist nonprofit that accepts funds from other leftist foundations and donors and pools the funds and disperses them to groups. In this way, the true sources of the funds are obscured.

Well-known leftists like Bill Moyers, among others, have profited from entities that support the Tides, and they in turn have also supported Free Press.

But the letter sent on Wednesday morning to the FCC is notable because it reveals a number of small, local entities with ties to Free Press and its benefactors, such as the Tides, and indicates just how widespread the network of leftist groups is. For example, the Women Donors Network, which signed on to the letter, is an organization that receives Tides funding. As well, such signatories as
Color of Change; UNITY: Journalists of Color, Inc.; National Alliance for Media Arts & Culture; the Center for Media Justice; Community Technology; Participatory Culture Foundation; Media Alliance; Center for Community Technology Services; Center for Resilient Cities; Coastal Community Foundation; Community Frontiers; Healthy Families San Angelo; Room to Roam; Smart People Foundation; Social Actions; among others, all have ties to Tides donors and Free Press. A number of the organizations based in San Francisco have ties to disgraced Obama Administration aide Van Jones, who worked extensively with Free Press before being hired as a White House staffer last year.

"Hillary Clinton talked about the vast right-wing conspiracy? This letter kind of lays out the vast left-wing conspiracy," says a House staffer for a Blue Dog Democrat. "It's like a satire of left-wing and community activists networks. There is no way my boss could possibly get on board something like this."

In fact, it appears Free Press and its minions understood how toxic their organization's positions have become, because several nonprofits that signed on to the letter claimed they had not understood the nature of the letter before their organization's names were added to the list.

By mid-day on Wednesday at least one signer had demanded that its name be removed from the letter, claiming they were unaware of the political nature of the "net neutrality" issue. Other organizations that signed on were indicating they too would be seeking to have their names removed.

It's unclear what impact the flawed letter might have at the FCC. "Frankly, Free Press and its people have worn out their welcome here," says an FCC staffer, who works with the three Democrat members of the commission. "I'm sympathetic to their issues, but their tone and tactics make it almost impossible to deal with them."

Recently Free Press complained that they had not been invited to what they termed "secret" meetings at the FCC. Only after they complained was it revealed that they had more than 30 similar meetings with senior FCC officials, and a number of similar meetings at the White House. 

"They can't seem to control themselves, and it just comes back to bite them in the ass," says the FCC staffer. "For supposedly politically savvy operators, they sure don't seem to care that they have burned just about every reasonable bridge they've got."

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