September 30th, 2007

The New York Times watches Freedom Watch

The front page of today’s NY Times features an article entitled “Big Coffers and a Rising Voice Lift a New Conservative Group.” It’s about the rise of Freedom Watch, formed to combat the anti-surge movement and the propaganda clout of MoveOn.

It’s a masterful demonstration of the Times’ ability to publish a piece purporting to be objective (don’t all Times articles purport to be objective?) and yet subtly shaded by what is left out more than what is put in—or the placement of whatever might be included.

Here’s the beginning of the second paragraph of the article:

Founded this summer by a dozen wealthy conservatives, the nonprofit group is set apart from most advocacy groups by the immense wealth of its core group of benefactors…

If Freedom Watch was founded to counter MoveOn, the latter is one advocacy group it’s most certainly not set apart from by the immense wealth of its core group of benefactors. MoveOn has some rather deep pockets as well—the benefactor in question being George Soros, no slouch in the wealth department himself.

The Times article is a substantial one—1664 words long, according to my computer. And yet it goes on for most of its length describing the wealth of Freedom Watch’s founders and their connections to the Bush Administration (and wouldn’t it be odd if a group of wealthy Republicans with strong political interests didn’t have some sort of ties to that Administration?), hinting strongly that the group is a mere front for the nefarious Bush. At the same time, it intially describes MoveOn only as a nine-year old group “which vehemently opposes the Iraq War” and whose influence is “derived in large part from its grass-roots efforts.”

What of controversial billionaire MoveOn benefactor Soros? Well, he finally does get mentioned—about 1,100 words into the article. By that time many if not most readers have probably deserted the piece, having gotten the gist of it and Moved On, as it were.

This is the way the Times finally refers to Soros, in a single bland sentence:

Like Freedom’s Watch, MoveOn had its origins in an attempt by wealthy political donors, including George Soros, to shape the debate in Washington.

And what of that other rather cumbersome and awkward elephant in the room, the Times’ own participation in the fray—the “Petraeus Betray Us” ad placed by MoveOn in its pages, receiving a cut-rate deal (probably due, no doubt, to the poverty of the group compared to behemoths like Freedom Watch [/sarcasm off])? Well, the Times does get around to mentioning it, way way down in the article’s final paragraphs, modestly referring to itself in the third person:

Freedom’s Watch also pounced on’s full-page “General Betray Us” advertisement published Sept. 10 in The New York Times. Mr. Bush called the advertisement “disgusting.” Both chambers of Congress passed resolutions condemning the advertisement. The New York Times was also embroiled in the debate after giving MoveOn a discounted price for the advertisement, which the newspaper later acknowledged was a mistake. MoveOn has since agreed to pay the difference.

All’s well that ends well, right?

Meanwhile, Freedom Watch’s founders are not going away any time soon. In a closing sentence that may strike a tiny bit of fear into the hearts of the Times editors, former Bush Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, a member and benefactor of Freedom Watch, is quoted as saying, “We will still be here after George Bush is gone.”

I wonder if the same could be said for the Times.

16 Responses to “The New York Times watches Freedom Watch”

  1. Laura Says:

    Neo, I also read this article. What I think sets the two apart, at least at this time are the number of benefactors. MoveOn being a grassroots organization with more than 3.5 million members and Freedom’s Watch having a small group of wealthy contributors. What remains to be seen, in my opinion, is whether or not the latter will be able to engage a relatively large consituency that will move it into more of a collective voice.

    It is interesting to me. Groups such as these appeal to people on both sides for probably the same reasons; a growing feeling of discontent of the masses.

  2. Nausicaa Says:

    Has press ever had objetivism?

  3. neo-neocon Says:

    Objectivity of the press is probably not possible. I would be far less upset about the press’s bias, however, if the MSM did not pretend to be objective.

  4. expreacherman Says:


    I continue to read all your posts with such brilliant analysis.

    From an old-time Christian Conservative, I am so thankful that Conservatives such as you, Cinnamon and Book, among many others, continue to see the lie of the Left and the truth of the Right and don’t mind telling it like it is..

    Keep up the good analysis and truth-telling…


  5. amr Says:

    It is much easier for an organization to achieve a grass roots constituency if the media fawns over it. Freedom Watch will obtain public exposure probably mainly from negative publicity and will most likely be relatively moderate in their approach to politics. That will not gain them the attention of right of center donors who I suspect are not the zealots that are the netroots.

  6. Log Cabinet Says:

    Just for clarity, Soros did help fund Move On, but this tenacious lefty group seems very much in control of its own agenda. Freedom Watchers could learn something from the way Move On has polled its membership to set priorities, and enlisted their help for things like telemarketing and get-out-the-vote campaigns.

    Regardless of its politics, Freedom Watch is in its organization and messaging alooks to be a lot more like the Swift Boat clan — which is a shame, as it only undermines the good parts of its message. (Swift Boaters may have helped clinch the elction but that’s not the way I want to elect a president.)

    Furthermore, Enlisting the erudite but petulant Fleischer is hardly a good thing. He knowingly bent the truth to the press in service of the president, and continued to defend administration missteps even after Bush recanted re WMD.

    Yes, we should utilize the media. Yes, we should organize in grass roots ways. But we needn’t lie or obfuscate to make our point — those poor judgments, and the tragedies thye have created, will also be here after George Bush is gone.

  7. Log Cabinet Says:

    … Sorry for all the embarrassing typos.

  8. expat Says:

    Re. NYT: I followed a link to der Spiegel Online International yesterday and was surprised to find columns by Tom Freidman, Paul Krugman and Maureen Dowd. It seems they now have a deal with Spiegel. I guess they need the money. Who knows? Maybe we’ll see a merger or a takeover.

  9. Laura Says:


    you might want to do a comparison of the story and see what AP says about Freedom’s watch. Has more to say about the alliances of Cheney and not Bush.


  10. camojack Says:

    The New York Times is on their way out.

    Personally, I can’t wait…

  11. Mockingbird Says:

    ”Swift Boaters may have helped clinch the election but that’s not the way I want to elect a president”

    Maybe it’s just me but I feel that exposing Kerry as the fraud he was(and is) was as good a way as any to win an election. Of course, as is evident by the NYT’s article, Freedom Watch will never receive the same sort of advocacy assistance from the MSM that MoveOn has.

  12. Ymarsakar Says:

    I wonder if the same could be said for the Times.

    Nice hit.

  13. Xanthippas Says:

    …former Bush Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, a member and benefactor of Freedom Watch, is quoted as saying, “We will still be here after George Bush is gone.”

    Yet again demonstrating America’s tolerance for patronizing liars.

  14. Lee Says:

    “Yet again”, Xanth? Yeah, I guess we do tolerate your patronizing lies, your intolerance, your hate around here all the time.

  15. Ymarsakar Says:

    Yet again demonstrating America’s tolerance for patronizing liars.

    Of course, you’re still around, are you not, Xanth.

  16. Thomas Says:

    Laura Says:

    September 30th, 2007 at 1:06 pm

    “What remains to be seen, in my opinion, is whether or not the latter will be able to engage a relatively large consituency that will move it into more of a collective voice.”

    I’m sure that means much or is apples to apples… Conservatives just don’t like to join political groups as much as lefties… sorta like we don’t like bumper stickers as much… it’s in the attitude towards life… its different. That and with the media power leftists have to demonize things (say neocons or more aptly… recently the Federalist Society) it’s not always safe to join conservative groups… Last of all, I think we learn from the past… Moveon went kind of nuts… I have to add THAT to my list of reasons to not join political groups… What if, even though they’re mostly on my side, they go nuts later? And my name is on their old member lists… just one more reason to not join a political group (they may end up being idiots later)…

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.


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