Special Report

Anti-Beck, Dobbs Efforts Dropped by Church Coalition

ACORN, NEA surface. Hispanic group involved also Soros-funded.

By 11.3.09

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News. Lots of it.

Glenn Beck news, Lou Dobbs news, Rush news, Fox news, George Soros news and yes, you knew this had to be in the mix somewhere: ACORN news.

Glenn Beck and Lou Dobbs fans, your prayers have been answered.

Links to campaigns supporting the removal of both men from their respective television shows have been dropped by So We Might See, the increasingly controversial interfaith religious group funded in part by the George Soros-backed Media Democracy Fund. One of those campaigns (targeting Beck) was led by Color of Change, the group co-founded by now-resigned Obama White House aide Van Jones.

More news.

The petition to the FCC citing Rush Limbaugh for hate speech has lost yet another supposed religious sponsor from So We Might See following the revelations here in this space, making this the third church in a row to reject the petition in as many weeks.

And still more news.

It turns out two of the funders for the Media Democracy Fund campaign targeting Fox News and talk radio personalities are -- wait for it -- ACORN money pots.

And yes, more news still.

The Catholic Bishops are unhappy.

The Methodists are out.

The Disciples of Christ just said no.

The United Church of Christ is furious.

And the National Hispanic Media Conference, which was the vehicle used to launch this effort to silence talk radio stars and Fox News personalities in the name of hate speech, is, surprise, surprise -- now revealed to be fueled by money from the same George Soros-connected Media Democracy Fund that is funding the United Church of Christ's Office of Communications, Inc.. Which in turn is using its Soros-tainted money to back the Soros-connected NMHC FCC petition drive.

Did I mention ACORN?

Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore.

FOR THE LAST TWO WEEKS this space has been following the startling saga of a group called So We Might See. This is an interfaith religious coalition, the idea apparently originating from the United Church of Christ. Its members originally included the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Islamic Society of North America, United Methodist Communications, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ.)

The tale is a remarkably explosive concoction of political innocence, zealotry, offended believers, a drive for outright censorship, relationships between the money of a left-wing billionaire, outside-the-church foundations, an FCC commissioner and one church's liberal bureaucracy -- all side-by-side with the best of intentions and the worst of motives. Oh...and ACORN. Did I mention that? Sorry. The resulting firestorm has launched outraged religious Woodwards and Bernsteins, citizen journalists pounding away at their computer keyboards and hotly demanding answers of their respective faith leaders.

Then sending those answers on to The American Spectator.

It has spawned a profile in courage -- Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput.

And new revelations about two central players -- the National Hispanic Media Coalition and the Media Democracy Fund.

It has also sparked an angry response from the United Church of Christ's Office of Communication, Inc. Executive Director the Reverend J. Bennett Guess. Rev. Guess, released a statement on the growing controversy on the night of October 27th. And a concerned if not perplexed and wounded column in the St. Louis Post Dispatch by Leigh Hunt Greenhaw, the chair of the OC.

So, let's get to it.

First.

So We Might See has now completely dropped a section of its website asking church members to "Support These Other Efforts." What efforts? There were two, both smacking of outright censorship. One was the "Color of Change" campaign targeting Glenn Beck. (Color of Change was the Van Jones group.) The So We Might See site boasted that "This successful campaign has drawn 270,000 supporters and encouraged 62 companies have pulled support for his programs [sic]." There was also a link to Color of Change. All of this has now been taken down from the So We Might See site completely.

Also gone: a request to "Join current Drop Dobbs campaign." This effort asked church goers to demand "advertisers to stop advertising on Lou Dobbs program because of his misstatements about immigrants." A direct link to this site was provided by So We Might See, along with the brief information above. As with the campaign to get Glenn Beck removed from both radio and television, this request to get Dobbs removed from CNN has now been taken down from the site. Was this related to the shooting that occurred at the CNN commentator's home and anonymous threats he has said he received? No word from So We Might See. But the "Drop Dobbs" campaign has itself been dropped from this church-related website.

Next: the newest church to leave the fold of alleged So We Might See signers of an FCC petition, a petition invoking the name of Rush Limbaugh as a supposed purveyor of hate speech.

This would be the Christian Church, perhaps more familiarly known as The Disciples of Christ.

Here's their official statement:

"The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada supports the broad goals of the 'So We Might See' coalition, but is not among the endorsers of the specific petition put forward in the coalition's name," said the Rev. Ken Brooker Langston, Coordinator of the Disciples Center for Public Witness. He added, "Individual Disciples are free to sign the petition or not as their consciences dictate."

The Disciples of Christ, a small denomination, has nonetheless packed a blockbuster of a sermon in this statement, which makes it the third denomination in a row to back away in a matter of days from the So We Might See Coalition's FCC "hate speech" petition citing Rush Limbaugh.

The Reverend Guess has something to say about some of this, and we'll get to his statement in some detail in a moment.

But first, ACORN. ACORN? What in the world is ACORN doing in the middle of this mess?

The donor list funding the Media Democracy Fund also includes, in addition to the Soros Open Society Institute, the Wallace Global Fund. What is that? It's sponsored by the family of former Vice President Henry A. Wallace, the man who was bumped from Franklin Roosevelt's ticket in 1944 in favor of Harry Truman by FDR himself. Wallace had proved to be heading to the extreme left, making him unpalatable to Democratic Party leaders and FDR. Wallace finally left the Democrats to run against Truman as the candidate in 1948 of the Progressive and American Labor party, carrying the banner of the far left. He won no states and just 2.4% of the popular vote.

In that progressive spirit decades later, the Wallace descendants through their Global Fund have not only been shipping dollars to the Media Democracy Fund, which in turn funds So We Might See. The Wallace Global Fund has also been busy directly funding ACORN. Yes, that ACORN. Of the prostitute/pimp scandal covered extensively by Fox News and talk radio. The scandal that has caused the United States Congress to shut off ACORN's federal funding. Here are the links to the Wallace Global Fund and its ACORN grants.

ACORN/American Institute for Social Justice 
http://www.acorn.org/

$100,000 (year 2 of a 2-year grant)

General support grant for community organizing, training, research, and mobilization of poor and minority voters on issues ranging from minimum wages to predatory lending, as well as electoral mobilization and civic engagement

ACORN/American Institute for Social Justice
http://www.acorn.org

$50,000

For the Voter Participation Program, for legal and communications support in response to politically-motivated attacks.

Oh, and the other Media Democracy Fund ACORN supplier? Here's the Soros Open Society Institute link.

I'm beginning to feel like Glenn Beck without the blackboard. Follow the bouncing ball if you will.

The Soros Open Society Institute and the Wallace Global Fund are not just fellow progressives ideologically simpatico with ACORN, they have been ACORN money pots. They are also funders of the Media Democracy Fund. The Media Democracy Fund in turn is funding the National Hispanic Media Conference, which is ginning up this petition to the FCC targeting talk radio and Fox News.

Signing on is So We Might See, bringing in the churches. Their target? Fox News personalities and talk radio stars. And where have you been hearing about the scandals swirling around ACORN that were uncovered by the intrepid team of James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles and Andrew Breitbart's Big Government.com? Yes indeed, from Fox News and talk radio.

It's important to note here that the funding process for So We Might See was underway before the ACORN scandals uncovered by O'Keefe and Giles and Breitbart broke on Fox. So We Might See was not created to come to ACORN's rescue, the ACORN story not public at the time.

But it is abundantly clear just who the targets of this funding from the Media Democracy Fund were from the get-go, their names specifically cited in e-mails to church members from So We Might See. Do I think So We Might See and all these churches took this money to get ACORN's enemies on Fox and talk radio? Again, no. Not for doing ACORN shows that happened after the money was in process. That's silly.

But it is certain beyond doubt that the idea was to re-define "hate speech" and intimidate the targets by threatening to have them removed from the air. The efforts to remove the Beck and Dobbs show were, until just recently, showcased on the So We Might See site.

Remember this clip from the Beck Fox show on May 6? He is talking with ACORN's Scott Levenson and at the end of the clip, after the break, Beck says he was told by Levenson off-camera that he, Beck, was "afraid of black people" -- and it was clear from Beck he thought Levenson had used the word "hate." Beck was so angry he threw the guy out of the studio, as he says on the clip.

It takes no imagination to envision a "hate speech" scenario involving the Wallace Global Fund and Soros-funded ACORN over Beck. The money from the Media Democracy Fund, itself funded by these two and others, could then be pumped out by So We Might See. Where? Through churches whose members have no idea ACORN's money suppliers have just paid for the sermon they heard while their kids are downstairs in Sunday School getting the same message from ACORN funders.

Let's imagine a different timing here, with the O'Keefe, Giles and Breitbart team walking in with their incredible ACORN story -- if Glenn Beck had been pushed off the air amidst allegations of "hate speech" from So We Might See and others. In which event, there would quite possibly have been no one there to bring the rest of us the results of O'Keefe, Giles, and Breitbart's work -- because Fox or its producers or hosts or a talk radio personality feared losing a show or bringing down the wrath of the FCC in a hate speech citation.

Back to Reverend Guess.

This backing away from the controversial FCC petition by assumed So We Might See member churches has not gone down well with our friend Reverend Guess, he the UCC official who is listed on the grant information as the "Key Personnel" of So We Might See. As always, the disclaimer: I am a member of the UCC, the president of my local church Council, and a member of the Penn Central Conference Board of Directors.

Here is the Guess statement in its entirety, as posted over at the UCC website.

As they say, let's unpack this.

1. Rev. Guess is upset about "misleading and untruthful articles that have appeared this past week at The American Spectator about the UCC and the So We Might See interfaith media justice coalition."

These two articles, here and here, say the following:

The So We Might See Coalition, per e-mails to UCC members and on the UCC website, indicated the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the United Methodists and the Disciples of Christ, along with four other denominations including the UCC, supported a petition to the Federal Communications Commission to open a "notice of inquiry" into what the Coalition subjectively calls hate speech. A petition that specifically cited commentator Rush Limbaugh for alleged hate speech in relation to the issue of illegal immigration. The petition was in support of the National Hispanic Media Conference. Interestingly, the original language on the site has now acquired a sudden addition. It once stood as follows:

The So We Might See Coalition is sending this letter to the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Commerce asking them to conduct an inquiry into hate speech so that we can better understand it, and to update a government report that collects statistics and information about the connection between hate speech and hate crimes. Take action today to put an end to this destructive kind of media violence! Fill out your information below to add your name to our letter.

Now this statement has the following trailing along with it:

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is a member of the So We Might See Coalition, but has opted to send a separate letter to the FCC. Read the USCCB's statement here.

And a click on that "here" produces this statement, which was not present when the original article was written:

While the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is part of the So We Might See Coalition, it did not sign on to the letter that So We Might See wrote to the FCC and NTIA. The USCCB opted to send its own letter to the FCC, and has issued the following statement about the letter:

USCCB is responding to a petition filed before the Federal Communications Commission ("FCC") by the National Hispanic Media Coalition, which asks the FCC to open a Notice of Inquiry to request public comments the extent and nature of hate speech in the media. USCCB supports the establishment of a broad public forum to debate the difficult constitutional and regulatory issues, including the potential danger to religious speech, raised by the petitioners.

We are asking the FCC to make available a proceeding where the public can attempt to describe speech anyone deems harmful, and where the public (including Catholics and the bishops) can raise important constitutional constraints on government action regarding speech, including religious speech.

We are not participating in any campaign to censor any organization, program or commentator.

The original petition, as can be seen, is still untouched and quite specifically names Rush Limbaugh. The accompanying media package from Rev. Guess also specifically targeted -- by name -- Glenn Beck, Lou Dobbs and Michael Savage. It included -- and still includes -- links to videos of Bill O'Reilly, Glenn Beck and Mr. Dobbs, labeling them purveyors of hate speech. O'Reilly and Beck, of course, are quite famously commentators for Fox News, Mr. Dobbs for CNN. Again, says the letter now added from the USCCB:

We are not participating in any campaign to censor any organization, program or commentator.

All of this has been quite truthfully and accurately noted here, Reverend Guess's protestations to the contrary.

The American Spectator accurately reported that the USCCB specifically denies it has signed on to this petition. The USCCB has now insisted on having its own statement on the issue posted on the So We Might See website, as quoted in full above, which verifies the truth of The American Spectator article. The American Spectator truthfully reported the United Methodists now say they are no longer in the Coalition, a point Reverend Guess admits in his statement. Said the Methodists:

United Methodist Communications is not a sponsor of this coalition at this point. Our name was inadvertently added to the sponsorship list in error. It has now been removed.

Today The American Spectator is accurately reporting the position of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) on this petition, which is that it:

is not among the endorsers of the specific petition put forward in the coalition's name.

Misleading facts? None. Untruthful? No. Painful as a hard truth? Probably, and I'm sorry about that. But a truth it is.

2. Says Rev. Guess: "Thus, we have sought to exercise our rights to ask for a broad and open discussion on these matters and to obtain as many facts as possible about the connection between hate speech and hate violence."

The UCC and any other organization are free to do this all day long. God bless free speech in America. There are countless ways to do this without involving the federal government, a threatening action that clearly implied a chilling effect on free speech.

The very disturbing fact is that the UCC and So We Might See (as clearly evidenced by links on the So We Might See Coalition web site that have now been removed) were advocating support for the actual removal of Messrs. Beck and Dobbs -- and who knows who else at some later date? -- from the air. Two of the funders supplying money for the grant to So We Might See are also funders of ACORN, the subject of much investigative work by Mr. Beck, one of these two targets for removal.

The conflict of interest in all of this is mind-boggling.

Interestingly, So We Might See claims that the "concrete harm of hate speech is that it incites violence." So does this mean the hateful language once linked on the So We Might See website against Lou Dobbs (it demanded Dobbs be fired, inspiring, under the group's definitions, fear of Dobbs) is itself responsible for the shot fired at Mr. Dobbs' New Jersey home recently? A shot fired with his wife standing a mere fifteen feet away? This is on top of what Dobbs says are a stream of "threatening phone calls" made purely because he is using his First Amendment right of free speech. Were the words on the So We Might See website about Mr. Dobbs encouraging these threats? Is this why the section about removing Dobbs from the air has now quietly vanished -- because it is a tacit admission by So We Might See that it was encouraging violence against Mr. Dobbs?

 3. Guess again: "The So We Might See Coalition was launched in July of this year to promote interfaith awareness of shared media-related issues and concerns. At the invitation of the United Church of Christ's Office of Communication, Inc., several denominational and interfaith partners willingly and knowingly consented to join the coalition, including United Methodist Communications and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops."

The problem here is not with The American Spectator. The problem is between Reverend Guess, the UCC, So We Might See, and the "several denominational and interfaith partners" who "willingly and knowingly consented to join the coalition, including United Methodist Communications and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops." And then, in one form or another, departed from the So We Might See petition drive. This now includes the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ.).

In other words, this is the religious version of "He Said, She Said." Not having been present, The American Spectator can only make sure each side in this controversy has its version reported accurately. Our articles have linked to Reverend Guess's original material, to his charge against The American Spectator, and we have reprinted in full or linked to the statements made by the USCCB, the United Methodists, and the Christian Church as provided to members of their respective denominations. There has been nothing "misleading" or " untruthful." What appears to be true is that either Rev. Guess did not have his ducks in order before he went public, or that all the signatories were unclear as to what it was exactly they would have to answer to their own congregants for signing. Which is to say, the UCC's Office of Communications did not communicate.

4. Guess says: "On Oct. 20, United Methodist Communications requested temporary removal of its name and logo from the coalition's website until its board was given more time to consider the agency's involvement. This request was honored immediately."

Note: October 20 is the date the first column on this subject appeared here in The American Spectator. The decision by the United Methodists gives every appearance of reacting to the facts presented in the story. E-mails from angry members of denominations involved in this story, Methodists included, were copied to the Spectator. Clearly there was anger in the pews at the use of the names of these denominations in this fashion.

 5. Guess: "And, despite participation at a Sept. 30 coalition meeting when details of an anti-hate speech campaign were discussed, the USCCB felt it appropriate and necessary that it craft its own letter to the Federal Communications Commission regarding hate speech in the media, apart from the coalition's sign-on letter at SWMS's Media Violence Fast campaign site. And, at the USCCB's request, the following statement to this effect also was added to the site: http://www.ucc.org/media-justice/mvf2009/usccb-statement.html"

In other words, there was a disagreement between the good Bishops and Rev. Guess. Again, The American Spectator wasn't in the room. Each side speaks for itself and has been reported accurately here, with their respective documents linked. Reverend Guess has been made to put up a specific statement from the Bishops that says other than what he tried to imply from the beginning, and he is understandably not happy. Doubtless the hero for Catholics here is Denver's Archbishop Chaput, who spent some time tracking down "the right person" at the USCCB to get an answer for an angry Catholic in his diocese.

6. Guess: On the funding of the UCC's Office of Communications, Inc: "Its primary sources of funding are no secret, with the bulk of its $270,000 annual budget coming from the Ford Foundation; the Media Democracy Fund; and corporate, religious and individual support of OC Inc.'s annual Everett C. Parker Ethics in Telecommunications Lecture held each fall."

Reverend Guess leaves something out here. The OC, Inc. has been struggling for funds. Indeed, in his presentation to the UCC's Office of General Ministries Board of Directors on April 10, 2008, Reverend Guess made a presentation in which he said, according to the minutes, that a "short-fall in expected revenue from grants and gifts" caused the OC, Inc. to be in debt to the tune of "$297,000 at the end of 2007." Without getting into the weeds, the presumably obvious reason for taking money from the Media Democracy Fund was the admitted need for increased "revenue from grants and gifts." Which, once received, was spent to attack the free speech of those not favored by the Media Democracy Fund, bringing in other denominations who doubtless, in good faith, were concerned about the issue of violence against immigrants.

This is the same Media Democracy Fund that also was busy giving a grant to the very special interest that drummed up the FCC petition in the first place.

Yes, that's right. The National Hispanic Media Conference is the recipient of $70,000 given in two grants from the Soros-tainted Media Democracy Fund.

If one scrolls down, you will find this:

National Hispanic Media Coalition

Media Policy Program

Support for advocacy work on media policy issues that benefit the Latino community. In 2008, NHMC opens an office in Washington DC to house their media policy advocacy programs. Their work focuses on the DTV transition, minority ownership and hate speech.

$30,000 (07)

$40,000 (08) 

This places the UCC in the considerably embarrassing position of taking money from a powerful special interest -- the Soros and Wallace funded (with others) Media Democracy Fund. Then, in light of the ACORN story, these two grantees of the Media Democracy Fund -- the NHMC and So We Might See -- support removal from the air of a Fox News personality -- Beck, whose show and network (Bill O'Reilly is on this list) are investigating a third grantee of Soros and Wallace -- ACORN. In baseball history, they call a play like this Tinker to Evers to Chance.

7. Guess: "Neither the United Church of Christ's Office of Communication, Inc., nor the So We Might See Coalition, receive any financial support from George Soros, as an individual, nor from his foundation, the Open Society Institute. While the Open Society Institute is one of multiple supporters of the Media Democracy Fund, neither the UCC, the Coalition nor its campaigns have been recipients of these funds directly."

Notice that last word: "directly." Respectfully, the sleight-of-handing here is that no checks from George Soros personally or from the Open Society Institute will be found in OC, Inc. bank accounts to help with getting it out of the financial hole it confessed to the UCC Board it had dug itself into.

What was said in this space was that the Media Democracy Fund gets part of its money from the Soros Open Society Institute -- part, not all. It also gets money from the Wallace Global Fund and others. This material was directly linked and is obviously true. It was and is abundantly obvious that Soros money is pooled -- and that pooled money has been given out in grant form to So We Might See (and a long list of others unrelated to this story). Not only is this accurate, as Reverend Guess admits, but the Media Democracy Fund has no hesitation spending public time with the Soros operation.

To erase any doubt about the open back door connection between the Media Democracy Fund and the Soros Open Society Institute, on June 23rd and 24th of this year, the Director of the Media Democracy Fund, Helen Brunner, was a participant in a two-day event described this way on the website of Grantmakers in Film and Electronic Media:

"On June 23 and 24, 2009, over 50 funders convened at Open Society Institute in New York to discuss the state and future of media grant making."

 The topic?

"A Funder Conversation: Media Grantmaking -- The State (and Future) of the Field"

Ms. Brunner was not just in the crowd, she was a panelist.

And you know who else was there?

Mary Smith.

And who is she?

Mary Smith is Mary Smith of the National Endowment for the Arts.

You know, the NEA. The very same government funded organization that Glenn Beck of Fox News was investigating because of a tape-recorded proclivity for using the government as a propaganda machine for left-wing politics. The very same Glenn Beck whom So It Might See, funded in part by the Soros-funded Open Society Institute, was trying to boot off the air. The same Glenn Beck whose investigation of the NEA-Yosi Sergant affair resulted first in this story filed at the liberal Huffington Post and then this story, filed by ABC News.

So the trail of connected dots goes like this.

* George Soros, who is using his billions to fund any manner of extremist left-wing causes, ACORN included, decides to open another front in his ideological war.

* The Wallace Global Fund, like Soros an ACORN funder as well, joins in, with others. The result: the Media Democracy Fund.

* The targets? Wildly popular conservative talk radio hosts and Fox News personalities who are effectively shining light on the agenda supported by Soros and Wallace. This just happens to receive brilliant illumination by the work of O'Keefe, Giles and Breitbart. Where, after all, have you heard about the investigative journalism on ACORN? From Fox News and talk radio as they zeroed in on the scoop from Breitbart's Big Government.com site.

* The goal: harass the Fox and talk radio stars at a minimum, silence them at a maximum. The tools: the Federal Communications Commission, the Soros-funded National Hispanic Media Conference (through the Media Democracy Fund) -- and the pillars of America's religious establishment. The last, unwittingly one has to believe, through So We Might See. Churches whose members were unknowingly about to be targeted with, in the words of the MDF grant to the UCC, everything from "sermon notes" for priests and pastors to material for "children's activities" "adult education materials" and so on. All supplied by money used to fund the very people we now know were or are being investigated by Fox News and discussed on talk radio. All of this designed to impress the church-going recipients that what they were hearing from Fox News and talk radio was nothing but "hate speech."

Whether the subject was immigration, ACORN, or the NEA or any unlimited number of subjects -- health care, cap and trade, unemployment etc., etc., and etc. yet again. Whether the news was coming from Fox News or talk radio. Whether you love to listen or watch Rush, Sean, Levin, Glenn, your local drive time guys and girls in your area, Bill, Neil, Greta, the morning Fox Gang or Lou Dobbs over there at CNN. Particularly disturbing is this would try and smear straight newscaster Shepherd Smith, Brett Baier, Hemmer and Megyn, Scott and Skinner and all those far-flung Fox reporters risking life and limb in very dangerous places like Afghanistan, Iraq or Pakistan to tell you exactly what they are learning. The idea here is to poison the well. Which in turn would presumably win support to take certain people off the air.

One by one, separated out from the crowd like, well, a helpless sheep in bible tale.

And, sad to say, we have the names of the prospective sheep as presented at length in all the above links.

This is very bad stuff. However well intentioned -- and I believe there are a lot of well-intentioned people involved here beginning, yes, with Reverend Guess, Leigh Hunt Greenhaw, and the members of the UCC OC -- this is just not right.

Surely it is no way to run a railroad, much less to treat unwary, vulnerable and trusting church members of these denominations, not to mention their children. At a certain point one has to ask what one would think is obvious when dealing with children: is this a smart thing to do?

Each denomination will deal with this internally as it chooses, now that each understands what's really going on. And the USCCB, the United Methodists, and the Christian Church have done so.

As for my own denomination?

Tomorrow: A Letter to the Reverend J. Bennett Guess, including a response to the UCC's OC chair Leigh Hunt Greenhaw.

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