The New York Times has an article that runs under the headline "Billionaire Brothers' Money Plays Role in Wisconsin Dispute." It includes this:
To Bob Edgar, a former House Democrat who is now president of Common Cause, a liberal group that has been critical of what it sees as the rising influence of corporate interests in American politics, the Koch brothers are using their money to create a façade of grass-roots support for their favorite causes.
"This is a dangerous moment in America history," Mr. Edgar said. "It is not that these folks don't have a right to participate in politics. But they are moving democracy into the control of more wealthy corporate hands."
This is really something. Who does the New York Times think funds Common Cause? Non-wealthy, non-corporate interests? Talk about a facade of grass-roots support. Common Cause's 2008 annual report — the most recent one posted on the Common Cause Web site, which is pretty pathetic for a group supposedly in favor of transparency — lists the Ford Foundation, the GE Foundation,and the Carnegie Corporation of New York as among its backers.
The 2008 Common Cause annual report lists five donors in the top giving bracket of between $100,000 and $999,000. They include:
Donna A. Curling, whose husband's company, ChoicePoint, was acquired in 2008 for $4.1 billion.
Mr. and Mrs. John C. Haas, whose family controls charitable and income-producing trusts (the Philadelphia chemical company Rohm & Haas was acquired by Dow Chemical) reportedly worth worth a total of more than $4 billion.
Markos Kounalakis, whose wife, a real estate developer, has enough money to endow a professorship at Stanford.
Chang K. Park, whose company supplies 80% of the remote controls for Time Warner Cable.
What Common Cause is is a bunch of millionaires and billionaires trying to prevent other millionaires and billionaires from participating in the political process the same way they do. In other words, they are hypocrites. The Times could write a story headlined Billionaires' Money Plays Role in Wisconsin Dispute and have the article be about not the Koch brothers but about the funders of Common Cause. But the left-wing interest groups rarely get that kind of treatment in the Times, where these left-wing interest groups are more commonly quoted approvingly as expert sources rather than scrutinized skeptically or suspiciously as targets.
More from the Times article:
Mr. Phillips and members of his group and other conservative activists, not surprisingly, see it very differently.
Just as unions organize to fight for their priorities, conservatives are entitled to a voice of their own.
The words "not surprisingly" should almost always be edited out of a news story. (If it's not surprising, it may not be news to begin with, and if it is anyway, there's no point in calling the reader's attention to the nonsurprising status of the news about to be delivered.) In this case, the phrase is a giveaway. The Common Cause guy doesn't have his comment prefaced with a dismissive "not surprisingly." The idea that conservatives might have the same free speech rights as unions gets presented by the Times as just the predictable opinion of some conservative activists.