No Wonder They Want to Change the Conversation

Oct 8, 2010

by Tom Collamore

We learned this morning the economy shed another 95,000 jobs last month and the unemployment rate won't budge from a devastating 9.6%. Approval of Congress remains in the teens or low twenties and the president's approval rating has fallen below 50%. A majority of Americans oppose the health care law and have serious reservations about the tax-spend-regulate agenda implemented by the congressional majority and the administration.

With a major election less than a month away, it's no wonder defenders of the status quo want to change the conversation. But they're not just changing the conversation, they are changing the facts--and even making them up. And the facts they find inconvenient they simply make disappear!

Here's an example: After The New York Times repeated the baseless allegation from a leftist blog that the U.S. Chamber was using foreign dues to pay for issue ads, we responded. Below is the letter we wrote and the version the Times edited and printed this morning.

Original letter:

Since when is it acceptable for the nation's "Newspaper of Record" to publish editorials repeating unfounded and unproven allegations by advocacy groups with blatant political agendas ("Clean and Open American Elections," Oct. 6)? The liberal Center for American Progress (CAP) posts a bogus blog alleging that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce uses foreign money to fund its political education program without offering a shred of evidence and the Times' editorial writers swallow it hook, line, and sinker.

While it's often difficult to differentiate the paper's news stories from its editorials, both have an obligation to adhere to journalistic standards of fact-checking, credibility, and "content of the highest quality and integrity," which the paper states as its "number one core value."

CAP's ridiculous blog post is a deliberately deceitful and desperate diversion by people upset about  current poll numbers and losing an election.  As we've said loud and clear, the Chamber complies with all applicable laws and no foreign money is used to fund our political activities, which are only a  fraction of the work we do to promote free enterprise in America. The New York Times is supposed to be about "All the News That's Fit to Print," not "Printing Unsubstantiated Rumors That Suit Our Political Views."

As edited by The New York Times:

Your Oct. 6 editorial "Clean and Open American Elections" repeats unfounded and unproven allegations by an advocacy group with a blatant political agenda. The liberal Center for American Progress posted a blog alleging, without offering a shred of evidence, that the United States Chamber of Commerce uses foreign money to fund its political education program.

The blog post is a desperate diversion by people upset about current poll numbers and losing an election. As we’ve said loud and clear, the Chamber of Commerce complies with all applicable laws, and no foreign money is used to finance our political activities, which are only a fraction of the work we do to promote free enterprise in America.

Hmmm... what's missing from the edited version, and why?

It's a sad commentary that the mainstream media has given voice to ridiculous, unfounded allegations by former Clinton White House Chief of Staff John Podesta's Center for American Progress. In its own way, it's the kind of "politics as usual" that disgusts the American people.

While defenders of the status quo were busy running from their record and changing the conversation, U.S. Chamber President and CEO Tom Donohue was in the heartland of America yesterday building support for a pro-jobs agenda. In Peoria he laid out a practical blueprint to create jobs and grow the economy. He expressed strong support for the administration's education reform initiatives and stated the Chamber was proud to get behind them. He applauded the administration's efforts to protect American intellectual property and offered his hand in cooperation in rebuilding America's infrastructure. In Des Moines he outlined how a vast expansion of counterproductive, outdated, and overreaching regulations was costing jobs and undermining our recovery.

Question: Which conversation is more helpful to our economic recovery and the American people--what the Chamber is talking about or what the other side is making up?

Which is better for our democracy, an organization that exercises its Constitutionally guaranteed right to free speech and participation in the political process while strictly adhering to all applicable laws, or a smear campaign aided and abetted by the media?

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