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by spocko

What to Tweet When You See a “Both Sides Do It” Story UPDATED

6:17 pm in Uncategorized by spocko

When I’m sick and tired of certain media conventions, I write a post about it. If you are like my friend Jimmy Dore you write a funny comedy bit about it. Stewart, Colbert and Oliver all mock the media, but is it making the media change? Is there something we can do besides point and laugh?

Today’s sick and tired media phrase is “Both sides do it.” This phrase is designed as a preemptive answer to the right wing’s screaming about a story and to help show that ”the liberal media doesn’t have a liberal bias.” The idea has become internalized by the MSM. My friend Eric Boehlert at Media Matters has written about this sliver in the heart of the MSM for years. Atrios makes a pithy comment about it every few months.

Why “Both Sides Do It” Short Circuits Brains

The magic phrase is destructive because it breaks down math and evidence in the heads of journalists. It converts a complex equation into 50-50!  For example, this magic phrase can take a $5 BILLION dollar multi-decade program and make it equal to a $5 Million five year program with the simple incantation, “Both sides do it.” Shazam!  The readers can now indulge in a “pox on both their houses” thought and move onto The Amazing Spider-man 2: Chock Full O’ Villains

  • $5,000,000,000 DOESN’T Equal $5,000,000 in real world math.
  • However, in “Both Sides Do It” math 5,000,000,000 = 5,000,000 because 50% = 50%

How do we, the non-very serious people, who don’t get invited to “nerd prom” force a break up of this destructive short hand?

What to Do: Read, Laugh then Point and Tweet.

I want to suggest to people that when you see these “both sides do it” pieces directly tweet to the reporters asking for metrics, ratios and names. This doesn’t have to be mean or rude, just persistent. That’s it.

They might engage you and have a 140 character “discussion,” but the point is to start fixing in their mind that the BSDI shorthand comes with a price.

Let me give you an example to practice on.

Today over a Gawker, Adam Weinstein (@AdamWeinstein) wrote this piece. “Conservative Money Front Is Behind Princeton’s “White Privilege“ About Tal Fortgang

“—the privileged white Princeton freshman who wrote so passionately about how he’s not a privileged white guy—no one, not even the New York Times, noted that his post was made possible by a conservative group that bankrolls and grooms college kids for right-wing leadership.”

It was a nice piece. He did research and asked questions other journalists didn’t. Like, “Who helped get Tal Fortgang’s message out there?” He pointed out that the piece was in the “Princeton Tory, an independent campus publication that’s just one of about 80 bankrolled by the Collegiate Network and its parent group, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute.”

As part of his piece he said, ”to be fair” which is usually used after someone has listed a litany of offences from one side.

To be fair, the campus wars aren’t all one-sided: This is a game that liberals have learned to play recently, too. The Center for American Progress, through its Campus Progress and Generation Progress programs, similarly funds left-leaning independent campus publications and grooms fellow travelers for punditing and politics.

Since he felt obligated to check the “Both Sides Do It” box, I felt obligated to write this in the comments

Interesting piece, but could you please include a ratio of the money of one group to the other? As you know quantity, quality and type of support vary greatly between both sides.

Please provide data proving how this is ”similarly funded.” on the left.

He won’t easily be able to for two reasons: Read the rest of this entry →

by spocko

The Magic and Beauty of Hiding Behind Front Groups

2:45 pm in Uncategorized by spocko

From a great diary at Daily Kos, ”Industry Expert Says StopRush Has Destroyed Limbaugh’s Business For Good“ by Proglegs:

Speaking yesterday on the Ed Schultz radio show, industry insider Holland Cooke credited a persistent online activist movement with completely destroying right wing talk show host Rush Limbaugh’s business model by using the very free speech that El Rushbo claims gives him carte blanche to do what he does.

The piece quotes Cooke on the Ed Show and discusses the lower ratings, Rush’s move to smaller stations and the impact of less income for Rush’s distributors and radio stations.
Cover up False Front
Being the self-important Vulcan I am, I commented on the piece and my role in the process that lead to this.

Discussing the article with my friend Jeff Tiedrich of the Smirking Chimp there was some confusion.

Wait, how does losing advertisers result in fewer listeners? Seems to me they’re two different problems.

I explained they they were indeed separate issues. I created the Spocko Method specifically to reduce revenue in an environment where the ratings wouldn’t necessarily be impacted by an action and could even increase the ratings because of controversy.

I know that when KSFO, Savage, Beck or Limbaugh lost advertisers that didn’t necessarily mean they would lose ratings. In fact. they would keep bragging about the ratings because people were tuning in to hear the controversy. See the Streisand Effect

Higher ratings usually translate to higher ad rates. But if no one wants to advertise or sponsor the show, then high ratings are moot, especially to the people wanting to make money off of ratings. However, the ratings are still useful to people who want to push a message.

People who like a message, and want it to continue, needed to find new sponsors who love the message but are not vulnerable to pressure the way customer facing advertisers are. These new sponsors could stand behind someone who would normally be sanctioned or be fired for violating the normal HR policies found in most corporations. The groups could even support views that a huge percent of the population find offensive.

Front Groups are Magical

Front groups like the Heritage Foundation, Freedom Works and Americans For Prosperity can deflect connection and responsibility from individuals, corporations or brands who love a “no regulations ever” message, but can’t be seen supporting a sick and twisted host or his comments.

When you don’t want your brand tainted by association, you find or create a group of anonymous donors and ask them to pass money through to the messenger they don’t want to be associated with anymore.

Front groups funding right wing radio isn’t new, Politico did a piece on them funding right wing radio back in 2011. Here is another from this week. There are still reasons people and companies hide. There are marketing and brand considerations that remain. If you, as the person driving a message, find that activists have developed and harnessed a customer facing advertiser alert programs that challenges their brand, you work to remove those sponsors identities from the equation. Then you give them the option of funding you via the ‘cut out’ front group, like the Chamber of Commerce does. The other option is to reform the messenger, and that isn’t going to happen.

Customer facing advertisers, like the ones listed here at, had a hard time justifying sponsoring a sexist bigot who would be fired for violating all their own HR policies. But a front group doesn’t have to answer to HR policies, brand managers, customers or shareholders.

The people who want the money to keep rolling in do suggest the host change or tone down his views to appease the sponsors, and some of that does happen behind the scenes, although they will never admit it. The current procedure is to embrace the offensive comments and look for other sponsors.

The consumer facing advertisers were, (and some still are) a weak link in the game. They could be convinced to move away from Limbaugh. However dark money doesn’t care about what anyone thinks. They can “lose” money for decades on an influential narrative shaper, because they ARE getting an ROI. The advertisers could measure their short term ROI with new sales. But the front groups don’t have those short horizon metrics.

They are earning the money that they beg for every year from donors by pointing to their cultural impact.  They have:

Read the rest of this entry →

by spocko

Heritage Foundation To Launch Freedom To Read and Freedom Food Programs

12:19 pm in Uncategorized by spocko

Don’t have time to read and dog ear the corners of books but want your friends to think you have?

Introducing the Heritage Foundation’s Freedom to Read  program.

Heritage foundation president Edwin Feulner

Heritage Foundation President Edwin Feulner.
Photo by Medill DC under Creative Common’s License

Starting this April The Heritage Foundation has teamed with AEI, AFP, Cato, Hoover Institute and the EIEIO Institute to offer you pre-owned and distressed books for your home!

Includes all the classics you never had time to read, but want to say you have like:

  • The Fountainhead!
  • Atlas Shrugged!
  • Saul Alinsky’s, Rules for Radicals! (They’ve read it, why can’t you say you have?)

Hot current books like:

  • The complete, “Killing Somebody” series by Bill O’Reilly!

Books you didn’t read in college but said you did like:

  • Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations!

Bills the liberals have tried to ram down your throat like:

  • The Gay Agenda Bill and the “Give Homos Special Rights Bill”
  • The Affordable Care Act–all 906 pages!
    • The bill that inspired the “Read the Bill!” chant!

For a low monthly fee we also send you Heritage, AEI, Cato and Hoover Institute books our experts turn out each month that you only hear about on Fox, Hannity and Limbaugh.

The covers have been cracked, the pages have been turned and sections have been underlined! Just like you would if you had time.

For a limited time you will also receive pre-read copies of historical documents and books you haven’t read:

  • The Constitution
  • The Bill of Rights (numbers three through ten)
  • The King James Bible with the New Testament and the actual words of Jesus in red. All marked as if read!

You would expect to pay $1,700 a month for this. Thanks to a generous grant from an anonymous donor all these books and documents will arrive at your home for the price of a five dollar cup of coffee. These quality pre-read and distressed books will keep coming until our donor runs out of money. (Don’t hold your breath liberals!)

Act today. Our pre-readers and independent contractors from around the world are standing by to read and distress your books!

Coming soon, our Pre-Eaten Food Program™ We eat it so you don’t have to!
Comes with a complete set of Ginzo knives! But wait there’s more!

Also launching in April, the charity donation program that fulfills our 501 c 3 non-profit status making your subscription tax-deductible for income, gift, and estate taxes.

Freedom Food™* especially for inner city men.

*Heritage’s Freedom Food program consists of the results of the Pre-Eaten Food Program. It includes pre-digested food, Freedom to Read books and is part of this balanced budget. Not available in other first world countries.


AUTHOR NOTE: The Freedom To Read, Pre-Eaten Food and Freedom Food Programs are all made up programs that parody the intellectual laziness and moral cruelty of many right wing foundations and programs. Any resemblances to actual right wing foundations and right wing leaders’s comments and ideas are purely intentional. Pre-April Fool.
Cross posted to Spocko’s Brain

by spocko

Why Fiduciary Responsibility Beats Moral Responsibility

4:07 pm in Uncategorized by spocko

Over at Boing Boing, Jacques Vallee — a computer scientist, partner in a venture capital firm and author — wrote a post titled. Stating the Obvious: If you don’t have a house you don’t need no sofa.

Workin' Dog by boxchain

It’s a good post, questioning issues of consumerism, lost houses and the media’s attention span in a crisis that isn’t telegenic, just tragic. The obvious point he makes is that if you lose your house you aren’t going be going out buying stuff. Here is my response:

It’s great that you have stated the obvious.

Now please tell me what you are doing behind the scenes politically to help.

Being a Venture Capitalist or VC means you have money. And you are probably still sending it to the companies that are in your portfolio. But are you also funding groups that are working to stop relief?

Do you support lobbyists that are screaming about the deficit in the face of horrific unemployment? Have you supported groups that have worked Congress to pass bills that let our corporations send jobs overseas and get tax benefits for it? Do you believe in fair markets or in fake "free markets"? Is your first concern your "global competitiveness" or in the ability of Americans to buy sofas with a living wage? Maybe you tell yourself that you have to look out for your business first, but then do you donate money to groups who make it easier for capital to chase cheap labor around the globe?

I’ve worked with VCs and Silicon Valley companies for years and I know that when the VCs suggest something, things happen. Because they represent money. But they don’t just spend that money on their companies, they donate money to groups that have worked hard to make this "obvious situation" happen. There are groups actively working against the people whose fate you bemoan.

And I’ll go a step further, if you aren’t supporting these right wing groups are you supporting the groups that are FIGHTING these groups? Are you supporting anyone who is effectively fighting the right wing think tanks? Are you donating money for fighting a right wing noise machine that constantly pushes a economic world view that is failing? Groups like the Center for Media and Democracy and Media Matters need your money.

Or do you think that what they say on Fox, and talk radio is irrelevant and is ignored as non-serious and unworthy of challenging? Are you supporting groups that are fighting Grover Norquest’s Club for Growth, the Heritage Foundation or the AEI? Are you funding or fighting groups like FreedomWorks?

Norquest and his friends can promise a great ROI. A few million here and lower taxes there. But what can other groups promise you for ROI? Is it all about ROI or do you have a sense of duty to the American people who might buy your products?

No rich VC was willing to fund me when I was fighting the right wing radio hosts and their calls to hang journalists, liberals and murder millions of Muslims. The hosts had the standard conservative economic views that have lead to this 22 percent real unemployment. I and a handful of bloggers cost the right wing media millions, but we didn’t generate revenue, so that means that it wasn’t a valuable exercise in our ROI world.

I’m glad I did what I did but I paid the price of getting involved with "Politics" in Silicon Valley by pushing against a conservative viewpoint that is shared by many very rich people in the valley. Maybe I should have just focusing on helping people with messaging, the media and ROI, because I’ve helped some SV companies make billions over the years

I know the power of VCs, it’s not just your public pronouncements, it’s your private views and where your money goes when it’s not flowing into companies that counts.

If you would like to tell us what you are doing in that space I would like to hear. I would like to know if you ask your fellow VCs the same question. What are they doing behind the scenes? Are they supporting people who want to keep the Bush tax cuts? Are they supporting rules for keeping estate taxes low – do they call them "death taxes"? Have they demanded real financial regulations or are they all afraid to piss off Wall Street for when they need them for an IPO? (Wall Street Bankers are the one group that I’ve seen VCs worry about pleasing during road shows.)

If you can’t bear to tell your tax accountants not to create shell companies in the Caymans to cut taxes on your company, can you at least support the regulations that will eventually make it illegal or hard to do that? Your fiduciary responsibility might force you to lobby to reduce taxes, but your moral responsibility isn’t the same as your fiduciary responsibility.

I don’t doubt your sincerity here, what I want to know if you are following through on your views backstage where it really counts these days.