The Spectacle Blog

Radio Appearance And…

By on 8.29.06 | 11:47AM

Just a reminder, I will be on the "Organization Watch" internet radio program, run by my old employer at CRC, tomorrow to discuss my (and Sarah Haney's) recent piece on the political giving of the Fortune 100 (go here for an abbreviated version). You can hear the program on Rightalk Radio, from 3-4pm EST.

While I am on the subject, Matt Vadum of CRC sent this link at Philanthropybeat, where an An anonymous author criticizes. I wish I could say that once you get through the ad hominem attacks there are actually quite a few legitimate points. However, I can't.

"Anonymous" throws around the word conspiracy a bit to describe our piece, but nowhere did we use the term. And for good reason: All the giving is a matter of public record. The foundations have to release their tax returns, and you can view them at Guidestar by creating a free account.

Anonymous also pulls the amazing feat of undermining himself in back-to-back sentences. Criticizing how I defined political left and right, he states:

On the right are the Cato Institute [which just published a book titled, Buck Wild: How Republicans Broke the Bank and Became the Party of Big Government], and [correctly] James Dobson's Focus on the Family. It offers a convoluted explanation of what constitutes "right" and what constitutes "left," saying "we also put on the right groups that defend traditional values..." Now, that's objective.

I wonder, how does Anonymous determine that we "correctly" designated Focus on the Family as being on the political right? In other words, is Focus on the Family known for its strong stance on taxes, regulation, government spending, and so forth? Or does Anonymous put Focus on the Family on the right because it defends "traditional values"? Funny thing is, Anonymous uses the term "right" in that same "objective" fashion in this previous post.

In that same paragraph, Anonymous has his one legitimate point. He questions why we put the Cato Institute on the right and the Brookings Institution on the left. These were judgment calls, but using the definitions we did (see page 2 of the article), they are very defensible. While Cato certainly takes some positions on the left regarding social issues, on the whole it falls on the right, since it opposes higher taxes, higher spending, more regulation, and favors gun rights. It was much the same with Brookings. While it occasionally takes a position on the right, it usually favors more government involvement in the economy.

Then there is this section:

Also playing a role in the liberal corporate philanthropy conspiracy, according to the article, are matching gifts programs, which allow employees to give to their favorite charities while having their employers provide a match. As evidence the article offers up a single $300 and a single $50 matching gift processed through the Bank of America Foundation. The $300 gift went to the Sea Sheperd Conservation Society, which CRC accuses of sinking fishing vessels, and the $50 went to International A.N.S.W.E.R., the leaders for which CRC accuses of "supporting the communist dictatorships of Cuba and North Korea" [note: this may be true].

The point is, $350 does not a conspiracy make. But when you're trying to prove a point ...

That is: (1) a distortion, and (2) proof that at least one mother is derelict in her duty to confiscate the crayons and other writing utensils from her child before he leaves for the house for the day. The examples of the matching gifts to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and International A.N.S.W.E.R. were used to support the charge of "indifference" on the part of corporations to oversee their matching gift programs. (See page 6 of the article.)

What a pathetic little blog post. It's almost as though Anonymous just can't handle the fact that someone challenged his preconceived notion that the political right is bought and paid for by corporate America. In fact, that's exactly it.

UPDATE: I noticed that Anonymous has posted a response to Matthew Vadum's post on the matter. A few thoughts:

1. It appears that Anonymous didn't read our article very carefully, as he states, "I was not aware that CRC published on its Web site the entire list of the recipient organizations of the corporate foundations it examined. As standard practice, it's helpful to mention in a print article the fact that additional data is available online." Well, we did mention that on page 2 of the article. Anonymous had to acknowledge that fact after Vadum pointed it out to him.

2. He also states, regarding our definitions of political left and right, "It's not that I don't like the definitions themselves." Uh, in his original post he notes, he sneers at our use of the term "traditional values." Clearly, he does not like the definition, so he is either backtracking or he does not know what he wrote in his original post.

3. Next he states, "Given CRC's political philosophy, it's not too far-fetched to believe that the tiniest of liberal indicators landed an organization on the "left" side of the fence regardless of the organization's overall focus." Now that Anonymous knows the entire list is online, could he please give us some examples of this instead of mere insinuations?

4. More distortions: "Maybe the reason corporations won't give CRC data on their contributions that aren't made through their foundations is that if they do CRC will find a $50 employee match as reason to call them eco-terrorists." We never referred to any corporation as an eco-terrorist. Again, those cases were used as examples of indifference.

5. Referring to Vadum's post, he concludes: "Finally, it's always helpful to have a free spell check service. We bloggers are well aware that our credibility is rooted in our grammatical correctness." That's amusing since Anonymous mispelled "Shepherd" in his original post.

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