Saturday, August 14, 2004

August 14, 2004

Arthur Bovino
Assistant to the Public Editor
The New York Times

Dear Mr. Bovino:

Several mistakes are made in the New York Times' story today about the nonprofit Commission on Presidential Debates, along with crucial omissions, that I believe should be addressed by national editors.

1. The New York Times article failed to inform readers that the commission is a tax-exempt organization, not just a bipartisan commission. (Source: http://www.guidestar.org/)

2. The paper reports the commission announced the debate schedule last month. Not true. The commission issued a news release about the schedule on November 6, 2003. (Source: http://www.debates.org/pages/news_031106.html)

3. Three column inches are devoted to the opinions of NBC News, a quote from the network, ego-stroking by your reporter of Tom Brokaw, and a response from Janet H. Brown of the commission. How are American democracy and journalism, served by this sort of focus on a retiring anchorman? Why were no voters of any political stripe asked how they viewed the choice of moderators?

4. The story identifies Ms. Brown as a "spokeswoman" for the commission. Basically true, but she is also the executive director of the nonprofit, tax-exempt commission. (Source: http://www.debates.org/pages/lead.html)

5. While the article and headline highlight the lack of a commitment from Bush and Cheney to participate in the debates, no mention is made of the fact that the commission's honorary cochairmen include former presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, but not George Herbert Walker Bush. (Source: http://www.debates.org/pages/lead.html)

6. The story notes a federal judge ruled this week on an FEC-related complaint against the commisison, but omits any reference to the separate federal complaint lodged against the commission. The Open Debates advocacy group of Washington, has lodged a grievance with the Internal Revenue Service accusing the commission "of illegally accepting corporate contributions in order to facilitate presidential campaigns." (Source: http://209.157.64.200/focus/f-news/1155930/posts)

7. And finally, the Times was journalistically delinquent in failing to report the commission has thus far not released the list of this year's corporate sponsors of the debates. (http://www.debates.org/pages/natspons.html)

I ask that my concerns, as a reader, shareholder, and American voter, be passed along to the proper national editors at the New York Times.

Much appreciated.

Regards,
Michael Petrelis
San Francisco, CA
^^^


The New York Times
Aug. 14, 2004

Panel Names Debate Moderators as It Awaits Bush and Cheney's Pledge to Take Part
by Jim Ruttenberg

The commission in charge of setting up the presidential debates names the list of moderators for the four events it plans to hold this fall. Now all it needs is for President Bush to agree to show up.

The bipartisan Commission for Presidential Debates said that Jim Lehrer of PBS, Bob Schieffer of CBS and Charles Gibson of ABC would each moderate one of the three presidential debates scheduled for late September and early October. Gwen Ifill of PBS is to moderate the vice-presidential debate.

Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, the Democratic nominee, has agreed to appear at the three debates, and his running mate, Senator John Edwards of North Carolina, has agreed to appear at the vice-presidential debate. Mr. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have not yet agreed.

Democrats noted that Mr. Bush told Larry King on CNN on Thursday night that "there will be debates, you don't have to worry about that."

On Friday, Mr. Bush's campaign manager, Ken Mehlman, said Mr. Bush was too focused on the Republican convention to make decisions concerning the debates, but Mr. Mehlman added, "I'm confident there will be a good series."

A senior aide to Mr. Bush said on Friday that the campaign saw no reason to lock itself into debate particulars at this point.

The debate commission has taken pains this year to give its plans an aura of inevitability, announcing that the schedule and formats are not negotiable and releasing its list of moderators early.

Last month, the commission announced the schedule of debates: the first, on Sept. 30, in Coral Gables, Fla.; the second, for the vice-presidential candidates, on Oct. 5 in Cleveland; the third, on Oct. 8, in St. Louis; and the last, on Oct. 13, in Tempe, Ariz.

Each debate will run 90 minutes; at three, including the vice-presidential one, the candidates will be seated at a table with the moderator. In St. Louis, the candidates will take questions from the audience.

The commission's announcement was a blow to NBC, the ratings leader of the three major television networks, which was the only one of them not to have an employee serve as moderator. The network had hoped that Tom Brokaw would moderate one last debate before he retired as anchor of its nightly news program after the election.

NBC News said, "We were surprised and deeply disappointed that no one from the No. 1 network news division was chosen. We have no shortage of strong potential moderators, led by Tom Brokaw."

Janet H. Brown, a spokeswoman for the commission, said it had avoided using anchors as moderators since 1988 for fear that they would overshadow the events. "It's important for the moderators to focus attention on the candidates," Ms. Brown said. On Thursday, a federal judge ruled that the Federal Election Commission should not have dismissed a complaint brought against the debate panel in 2000.

That complaint contended that the debate commission acted in a partisan matter in 2000 when it barred third-party candidates, including Ralph Nader, the Green Party candidate, and Patrick J. Buchanan, the Reform Party candidate, from the debate audience. The judge, Henry H. Kennedy Jr., said Thursday that the election commission should investigate the matter.

The debate commission said at the time that it had barred the two candidates because it feared that they would be a disruptive presence.

Mr. Nader nor Mr. Buchanan were included in the debates because each failed to meet a requirement that participants receive support from 15 percent of voters surveyed by five national polling organizations.

The same stipulation exists this year, so Mr. Nader is unlikely to participate in the debates. The commission had no comment on whether he would be allowed in the audience.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

This is the first story to appear in the gay press on gay publishers and reporters donating to politicians. Kudos to the writer, David Webb, for writing an article about this angle to my research of Federal Election Commission recods.
^^^

The Dallas Voice
August 9, 2004

San Francisco activist tracks media members’ campaign contributions

Petrelis ‘surprised by the extent’ of donations; some executives take issue with his stance


By David Webb
Staff Writer


San Francisco AIDS advocate Michael Petrelis has shifted his attention to the political activities of reporters and other members of the news media.

His target? People charged with producing fair and balanced news reports who also contribute money to political campaigns.

“I’m surprised by the extent,” said Petrelis, who began monitoring campaign finance disclosure Web sites this spring. “My concern is that we need more transparency from the media.”

The media wields great political influence, he said. It should be standard practice for publishers, report-ers, broadcasters, editors and producers to reveal their political contributions so readers and viewers would be alert to biases, Petrelis said.

“I think readers should know about those donations,” he said.

The indomitable Petrelis, who began his very public career in Austin in the mid-1980s, pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges of harassing some officials of the San Francisco Health Department last year and is now on probation.
Petrelis is also under a restraining order to stay away from the offices and employees of the San Francsico Chronicle because he harassed reporters and editors who covered AIDS.

Petrelis said he became interested in the topic when he logged onto a campaign contribution site in an effort to determine if a reporter who covers AIDS had made donations. That could have revealed something about the reporter’s mindset, he said.

“He hadn’t made any contributions, but I discovered that lots of other people had,” Petrelis said. “That’s what got me started.”

Research of campaign finance records show that a total of 200 media employees, representing 91 reporters and editors and 109 publishers, have contributed money to the 2004 election cycle so far.

The activist said that he has checked out about 50 newspapers and magazines to determine if publishers, editors and reporters are making political contributions. It’s proved to be an eye-opener, he said.

He discovered that Katrina Heuvel Vanden, editor of The Nation, had donated extensively to political campaigns.

“She’s given tons of money for the past two decades,” Petrelis said. “I didn’t know she was so rich.”

Petrelis said that he was also surprised to learn that fashion editor Elizabeth Stewart at The New York Times Magazine had contributed $1,000 to the John Kerry campaign. The newspaper has a strict policy against political activity or contributions by newsroom employees.

“I certainly don’t think of The Times as a pro-Bush publication,” Petrelis said.
Petrelis said he determined that Hendrik Hertzberg, senior editor of The New Yorker, is “clearly for Kerry.” The editor, who writes political opinion pieces for the magazine, gave $900 to Kerry’s campaign, he said.

And it was no surprise to learn that William F. Buckley, publisher of the National Review, had contributed to Republican Party candidates, Petrelis said.

Petrelis said that he discovered that publishers and employees of GLBT publications also contribute to political candidates.

Former Washington Blade editor Lisa Keen, a freelance writer who covered the recent National Democratic Convention for PlanetOut, donated $250 to Sen. Carol Moseley Braun’s ill-fated presidential campaign. And San Francisco Bay Area Reporter publisher Bob Ross, who died last year, contributed $3,000 to congressional candidates, according to the campaign disclosure sites.

Window Media publisher William Waybourn, whose company operates four gay newspapers, in Washington, New York, Atlanta and Houston, has given a total of $6,950 to mostly gay political candidates, during the 2004 election cycle. Some of the funds went to the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund. Waybourn is co-founder the victo-
ry fund and served as the organization’s first
executive director.

Waybourn said that he sees no reason to disclose his contributions in the four Window newspapers, because anyone who wants to know can find the information in other records available to the public.

“It’s not a matter of hiding anything,” Waybourn said. “I don’t write any stories, so there’s nothing for me to influence.”

Petrelis’ research also showed that Dallas Voice publisher Robert Moore contributed $250 to the Clark for President campaign.

No newsroom employees of the Voice have made any political contributions, the records show.

Moore said that the newspaper’s owners have always kept the newsroom “distinctly removed from any political activity in which we have personally participated.” He noted that he has never submitted an opinion piece for publication during his 20 years at the paper, which he co-founded in 1984. He also has never edited news copy, he said.

“To be honest, it’s not a question I’ve ever considered,” Moore said.
But the publisher added: “In disclosing your personal political donations, you would, by default, be making a public statement.”

Petrelis’ activities monitoring media contributions seem redundant, Waybourn added.

“It’s not a bad thing,” Waybourn said. “But when you have something that is already disclosed, someone else trying to disclose it is not going to change the dynamics.”

Both Waybourn and Moore said that their publications’ policies prohibit news employees, including editors, from making campaign contributions or participating in any political activity, which the men agreed would present a conflict of interest.

The Dallas Morning News has a similar policy, and research failed to turn up evidence of news employees making campaign contributions.

Petrelis said that he is not abandoning his role as an AIDS campaigner. But he plans to continue monitoring the political activities of the media and other selected contributors. He noted that he has always monitored the media’s coverage of AIDS issues.

Waybourn said that Petrelis has been asked by company officials to cease contacting reporters at Window Media newspapers because he had “screamed and yelled” at them.
Petrelis said he was unaware of any complaints about him harassing Window Media reporters.

“That’s news to me,” said Petrelis, who acknowledged that there is a restraining order barring him from contacting San Francisco Chronicle reporters. “I kind of think what William is trying to do is deflect attention from his donations.”

Petrelis said that he is abiding by the terms of his probation and has quit contacting both health department officials and newspaper reporters in San Francisco.

“Jailhouse orange is not my color,” Petrelis said. “I would say my activism has adapted. I don’t even litter.”

Petrelis said he hopes more people will start logging on to Web sites like www.tray.com to take advantage of the information offered about campaign contributions and the sources of politicians’ money. Campaign contributors can be tracked by name, occupation and employer name, he said.

E-mail webb@dallasvoice.com

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Barney Calame
Deputy Managing Editor
The Wall Street Journal

Dear Mr. Calame:

This morning I reread Howard Kurtz's front-page January 18 story in the Washington Post about media personalities donating to politicians, and wish to bring the following passage to your attention.

"Wall Street Journal technology columnist Walter Mossberg got a waiver to contribute $3,000 to Democrat Shapiro, 'my best friend of 35 years,' and reporter Laura Landro gave $1,000 to [ex-Sen. Bill] Bradley. Managing Editor Paul Steiger said there was 'some screw-up' and that Landro's husband has assured him that he made the Bradley donation. The Journal's policy is that news staffers 'should not be active in either big-time national causes or national partisan politics,' Steiger said," reported Kurtz.

If Steiger's statement is true, then why did Eben Shapiro, an editor at the Wall Street Journal, give $1,000 to Democratic Victory 2004 in June, and Marc Frons, editor of SmartMoney.com, a joint effort between the Wall Street Journal and Hearst Magazines, contribute $250 to John Kerry's presidential bid?

Did either donation from these Dow Jones employees violate company policy?

I would direct my concerns to your publication's ombudsman, but since the Wall Street Journal does not have a readers' representative, I am sending this note to you.

Here are the recent contributions from Shapiro and Frons, which are available on tray.com

Shapiro, Eben
6/29/2004 $1,000.00
New York, NY 11105
Dow Jones/Editor -[Contribution]
DEMOCRATIC VICTORY 2004

Frons, Marc
3/18/2004 $250.00
Wilton, CT 06897
Dow Jones Inc./Executive -[Contribution]
JOHN KERRY FOR PRESIDENT INC

A prompt reply is respectfully requested and appreciated.

Sincerely,
Michael Petrelis
San Francisco, CA
The Village Voice in today's "Press Clips" column does an excellent job of covering up an audit by Health and Human Services of AIDS leader Phill Wilson's mismanagement of $1 million from a federal AIDS counseling grant.

In the pertinent passage, the Village Voice omits any reference to the audit and Wilson's troubles. "Turns out the logic behind the down-low is as creaky as the headlines are dramatic. 'The down-low is being wildly reported, but it's a story without facts,' says Phill Wilson, director of the Black AIDS Institute. 'It doesn't help us with AIDS prevention to vilify black men or to disempower black women.'"

You may recall that the New York Times in its front-page Aug. 7 story about African-Americans living with AIDS, also quoted Wilson and failed to mention Wilson's mishandling of federal funds.

I find it weird that both a mainstream daily and a leftist weekly can't be bothered to inform readers of known facts about a news personality, even though the personality's fiscal problems were the topic a story in the July 31 Los Angeles Times.

Perhaps the reason why the Village Voice and the New York Times journalists have so far been lax about reporting on the HHS audit involving Wilson is because they need him for good quotes. Or maybe these publications aren't aware of the audit and the Los Angeles Times article.

As I did with the New York Times, I will forward the Los Angeles Times news account to the Village Voice, in the hope the publication will correct its glaring omission about the HHS audit.
^^^

The Village Voice

Press Clips
by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Sex, Lies, Death
The irresistible pull of the down-low myth—uh, story—hooks reporters and their readers
August 11 - 17, 2004

If only to verify our existence, every so often media announce that the sky has fallen on black America. The latest cause célèbre for acolytes of Chicken Little is a reported rise in the "down low" lifestyle. Media outlets as diverse as The Advocate, USA Today, and The Oprah Winfrey Show have gathered their crack reporters to bring you the latest on this grave and gathering threat.

Outlet be damned, the blueprint of the down-low story is always the same: Black women are alleged to account for 72 percent of all reported cases of HIV between 1999 and 2002. The cause? The hordes of barebacking bisexual black men, driven underground by the black community's entrenched homophobia. For sure, HIV is a huge, disproportionate problem in the black community. But direct evidence exposing the down-low as the major causal factor is lacking.

Last month, Essence finished a two-part report with an article that carried this hand-wringing headline: "Do Black Men Still Want Us?" Answer—based on your covers, we crave Jill Scott like grits and gravy, but Mo'Nique will send us to rice cakes.

The down-low has all the makings of a sensation: Here is a tale of sex, lies, and death. Better still, here is a tale as old as America—the threat of Black Dick. In the olden days, the warlocks of lede, hed, and deck mostly saw the black phallus as a menace to white daisies. But in the era of equal opportunity, Black Dick has turned on its own.

The Washington Post headlined its down-low entry, last August, as "HIV Positive, Without a Clue," with the subhead of "Black Men's Hidden Sex Lives Imperiling Female Partners."

Turns out the logic behind the down-low is as creaky as the headlines are dramatic. "The down-low is being wildly reported, but it's a story without facts," says Phill Wilson, director of the Black AIDS Institute. "It doesn't help us with AIDS prevention to vilify black men or to disempower black women."

What drives activists like Wilson crazy is that despite the ink the down-low has generated, hard data is lacking. Researchers have no national count on how many men are living down-low, much less what down-low is. "If you answer research questions at a gay club, or if you're being interviewed in Essence by E. Lynn Harris, you ain't down-low anymore," says Dr. David Malebranche, an assistant professor at Emory University's Division of Medicine. "Everybody has different definitions and different perspectives on what this means."

The Times cited a study saying that one-third of all bisexual black men have HIV and another noting that in the Centers for Disease Control survey of a majority of the states, black women accounted for 72 percent of new HIV cases among women. "If you look at the numbers among black women and you look at how black women contract HIV, it's at least valid to talk about this as an issue," says Linda Villarosa, editor at large at Essence. Villarosa has had a few shots at the sordid tale—she authored a front-page Times article on the subject, and had a hand in the Essence version.

But the numbers are ambiguous. The oft-quoted figure about a third of all bisexual black men having HIV, according to Dr. Malebranche, was the result of research done in nightclubs in six major cities. "All you can say about those statistics," says Malebranche, "is that one out of three black men in those particular cities, who frequent those particular clubs, have HIV."

More questionable is the assertion about black women and new cases of HIV. The Times gets credit—unlike, say, Essence—for at least noting that its story is based on an amalgam of statistics from 29 out of50 states, as compiled by the CDC. Only half of the20 most populous states bothered to report. Large ones like California, New York, Illinois, and Texas—with almost a third of the country's population—aren't included.

The story's linchpin has been the accepted truth that the black community is acutely more homophobic than the rest of America. The down-low is stirring up emotions in "the often-homophobic black community," reported The Advocate. "Black men aren't allowed to have even the slightest feminine characteristics of the average metrosexual." Andre 3000, Prince, and Fonzworth Bentley apparently missed that memo. As did most of black America, whose rampant homophobia nonetheless puts it behind such bastions of tolerance as Bensonhurst, Hasidic Williamsburg, and the whole of Mississippi.

A study published last year in Public Opinion Quarterly concluded that "evidence that blacks are more homophobic than whites is quite limited." While blacks were significantly more likely to object to homosexuality, it found, they also were significantly more likely than whites to support laws against anti-gay discrimination.

What the down-low mythology demonstrates, more than anything, is an an adherence to the cult of black pathology. Black people are more homophobic, more misogynist, more anti-Semitic, more anti-intellectual, more violent, and generally a problem. The viewpoint persists despite facts on the ground.

Barack Obama rails against the stigma that brands a black kid with a book white—and yet on 125th Street seemingly a third of the vendors are selling books. Bill Cosby attacks black girls for popping out babies and being bad parents—even as the pregnancy rate among black girls falls precipitously. Ditto for the down-low. Corner pundits aren't particularly known for nuance. But when reporters start drinking the Kool-Aid, we've got trouble.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

The presidential and vice presidential debates in the fall will be upon us soon enough, which is why I've been looking at the Commission on Presidential Debates, the Democrats and Republicans who control it, past corporate sponsors, and Gallup Organization because of its pivotal role in the debates. [1]

Although there are lawsuits pending against the commission, and all of its member have made substantial federal contributions to candidates and PACs, not to mention the lack of information on the commission's web site listing this election year's Big Business underwriters, my concern today is solely on the Gallup Organization, its
bosses and their donations, and the severe lack of transparency from the commission.

The commission's June 17 news release about the formats for the debates promises the "second presidential debate will use the town meeting format in which undecided voters, selected by the Gallup Organization, will question the candidates." [2]

I wanted to know the political leanings, if any, of Gallup executives and pollsters, as gleaned from Federal Election Commission files, and did a search at the Political Money Line with Gallup Organization as the query term. The hits below were returned. [3]

Jim Clifton, the chief executive officer of Gallup gave $2,000 last year to Herman Cain, an African-American GOP member who ran for U.S. Senate from Georgia. A global practice leader, whatever that may be, Curt Coffman, donated the same amount last year to Cain.

One of Gallup's senior vice presidents, Robert Nielsen, wrote a check for $250 to the Democratic Senatorial PAC in May 2004.

Another senior vice president, Max Larsen, is the largest Gallup donor with $2,750 in contributions to four Democratic candidates, including $1,500 to John Kerry's reelection bid.

Just goes to show you Gallup folks donates to both dominant political parties.

Of course, there's nothing illegal or ethically wrong with citizens, even if they work for a polling firm, making contributions to politicians.

But I believe the debate commission has civic duty to post these donations on their web site, to better inform votes about the political donating of everyone involved in putting on the debates.

And the commission must also list all of this year's corporate donors, along with all of the most recent donations from commission members, as listed with the Federal Election Commission.

At this point in the election cycle, it is shameful much transparency needs to be adopted and adhered to by the debates commission.

American democracy will be better served if the debate commission quickly implement full transparency.

Sources:
1. Commission on Presidential Debates
2. Press release from the commission
3. Political Money Line

^^^


CLIFTON, JAMES
6/25/2003 $2,000.00
WASHINGTON, DC 20037
GALLUP ORGANIZATION -[Contribution]
CAIN FOR US SENATE

COFFMAN, CURT
6/30/2003 $2,000.00
HIGHLANDS RANCH, CO 80126
GALLUP ORGANIZATION -[Contribution]
CAIN FOR US SENATE

NIELSEN, ROBERT
5/10/2004 $250.00
WASHINGTON, DC 20037
GALLUP ORGANIZATION -[Contribution]
DEMOCRATIC SENATORIAL CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE

Van De Walle, Patrice
2/25/2004 $250.00
London UK W9 3JS,
Gallup Organization/Director -[Contribution]
KAZA FOR CONGRESS

Raikes, Helen H Mrs.
3/31/2004 $200.00
Lincoln, NE 68506
Gallup/Research -[Contribution]
CURT BROMM FOR CONGRESS

Dawson, Brian
3/16/2004 $500.00
Lincoln, NE 68506
Gallup/Consultant -[Contribution]
JEFF FORTENBERRY FOR UNITED STATES CONGRESS COMMITTEE

Larsen, Max
9/30/2002 $250.00
Rockville, MD 20850
Gallup Inc./Researcher -[Contribution]
FRIENDS OF JIM MALONEY INC

Larsen, Max D.
9/30/2002 $250.00
Washington, DC 20003
Gallup Inc. -[Contribution]
VAN HOLLEN FOR CONGRESS

LARSEN, MAX
3/7/2000 $250.00
ROCKVILLE, MD 20850
GALLUP INC -[Contribution]
FRIENDS OF JIM MALONEY INC

LARSEN, MAX
6/28/2000 $500.00
LINCOLN, NE 68510
GALLUP INC -[Contribution]
NELSON 2000

LARSEN, MAX
6/29/1999 $1,000.00
LINCOLN, NE 68510
GALLUP -[Contribution]
KERREY FOR U S SENATE COMMITTEE

LARSEN, MAX
9/28/1999 $500.00
LINCOLN, NE 68510
GALLUP -[Contribution]
KERREY FOR U S SENATE COMMITTEE

Monday, August 09, 2004

August 9, 2004

Barney Calame
Deputy Managing Editor
The Wall Street Journal

Dear Mr. Calame:

Since the Wall Street Journal lacks an ombudsman or readers' representative, I am directing this email to you.

One of your reporters, Mr. Mark Schoofs, signed a petition in support of releasing 1960s radical Kathy Boudin from prison, which was published in the June 2001 edition of Poz magazine. The petition and the list of signatories is also on Boudin's web site.

Schoofs, number 63 on the list, is identified as a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, and many Poz magazine readers know he won a Pulitzer Prize for his stories on AIDS in Africa for the Village Voice.

My questions for you are -- does your publication allow reporters to sign political petitions, and identify themselves as Wall Street Journal reporters?

A prompt reply is requested and appreciated.

Sincerely,
Michael Petrelis
San Francisco, CA
^^^

Kathy Boudin's web site

POZ Magazine

June 11, 2001

To: The New York State Parole Board
Re: Parole for Kathy Boudin

Some of us have met, spoken or worked with Kathy Boudin in our capacity as longtime advocates for people with HIV, others have not. But all of us know well her groundbreaking AIDS work at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility over the past 15 years. She is, without doubt, one of our nation's most vital and important advocates for incarcerated women with HIV. No one who has ever witnessed, for example, Bedford Hills' legendary AIDSWalk, organized by Ms. Boudin and A.C.E., the AIDS counseling and education group Ms. Boudin founded, will ever forget how deeply inspirational it is. The idea that inmates solicit pledges from one another, families and friends, as well as guards and prison administrators, and conduct a day-long ceremony in the prison yard promoting PWA empowerment, HIV prevention and also an evening, memorial to those lost to AIDS is a moving example of what this terrible, epidemic has taught those who care enough to learn: that true compassion can heal historic conflicts and divisions. Literally, tens of thousands of women have benefited from the peer support, information and care initiatives Ms. Boudin pioneered at Bedford Hills. And not just women at Bedford Hills, but nationwide, because the programs developed by Ms. Boudin have become a model for other U.S. penal institutions. This lifesaving work would never have been done as early in the epidemic, nor as effectively, were it not for Ms. Boudin's creativity and commitment. It would be difficult to quantify, but it is certain that her work has not only extended and improved the lives of women and families with HIV, but has also saved New York State taxpayers a small fortune. Preventing HIV is vastly less expensive than treating it. Treating HIV-educated patients is less expensive than treating those who are uninformed or have not found the hope to care.

From what we have learned from women who have been paroled from Bedford Hills, Ms. Boudin's success is anchored in her ability to work appropriately within the system, knowing when to push and when to be patient. Also, she approaches AIDS work in a holistic manner, as apart of recovery and rehabilitation. AIDS does not exist in isolation, nor can care, treatment or prevention.

Kathy Boudin's work of service while serving her sentence of 20 years to life has given life and hope to many. This vocation for healing may never make up for past actions that cost lives, but it is proof that, far from posing any further risk to society, she is ready, and has earned her right, to become a greatly contributing member of society. Her advocacy is urgently—even desperately—needed by the larger community, as are her equally impressive skills as a writer, teacher and s pokes person.

As it enters its third decade, AIDS is no longer a fashionable charity. Meantime, it is estimated that at current rates of infection, 1 billion of the Earth's inhabitants will have HIV by 2010. AIDS advocacy worldwide urgently needs expertise to develop prevention and treatment strategies to address the lives of those at greatest risk of contracting the disease, many of whom are young women of color. Moreover, we need educators who understand the multiple burdens so many of these at-risk populations face, including the challenges of raising children in poverty, as well as addiction, homelessness and mental illness.

With all respect and sympathy to the families of the victims of her past crime, we urge the Parole Board to grant Kathy Boudin the opportunity to take her advocacy perfected at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility out into the greater world. There she is certain to help so many more women face the challenge of HIV in their families. We need her.

Respectfully,

1. Sean Strub, Founder, POZ Magazine
2. Walter Armstrong, Bditor in Chief, POZ Magazine
3. Joseph Bostic, NYC AIDS Housing Network
4. Ann Northrop, co-host, "Gay USA," Gay Cable Network
5. Bob Lederer, Producer, "Health Action," WBAI Radio, New York City
6. Lark Lands, Ph.D., POZ Magazine Science Editor
7. Gus Cairns, Editor, Positive Nation Magazine (UK.)
8. Megan Strub, Executive Vice President, POZ magazine
9. Eain A. Murphy Ph.D., Research Fellow, Columbia University
10. Allison Zack, POZ Life Forum Director, POZ magazine
11. Todd Bender, Product & Sales Coordinator, Twentieth Century
Re-Editions, Inc.
12. Mariama HE Nance, Brooklyn, New York
13. Chloe Jo Berman, New York City
14. Ruben Rodriguez, Hotline Services Supervisor, The Osborne Association
15. Renate Koch, ACCSI (Accion Ciudadana Contra el SIDA) -Venezuela
16. Edgar Carrasco, LACCA.SO Venezuela
17. Alberto Nieves, RVGT+ - Venezuela
18. Neris Ruiz, AMAS+ - Venezuela
19. William Barco, ACCSI - Venezuela
20. Robert Cisnei'os, Director, Hudson Valley Poverty Law Center
21. Dawn M. Stewart, Secretary Frontline Hepatitis Awareness
22. Karen Aberie, President, Aberie Unlimited, Hunter, NY
23. Jean Maclean Snyder, Trial Counsel, MacArthur Justice Center
24. Edward Steinhart, Ph.D., History Department, Texas Tech University,
Lubbock, TX
25. Barbara Huff, high school English teacher and Methodist, Austin, Texas
26. Debra S. Wright, Drug Policy Forum of Michigan
27. Rachel Maddow, Doctoral Candidate, University of Oxford
28. David Rupprecht, Novi, Michigan
29. John lversen, former Co-Chair, Oakland EMA HIV Services Planning Cc
30. Barbara Lubin, Director, Middle East Children's Alliance, Berkeley, CA
31. Maudslle Shirek, Vice Mayor, Berkeley, CA
32. Jackie Walker, ACLU National Prison Project
33. James Learned, Director of Treatment Education, Community Research Initiative on AIDS (CRIA)
34. Nina Reznick, Attorney at Law
35. Merrill Cole, M.F.A., Ph.D., University of Washington
36. Tammy Vitrano, Program. Director, Women Alive Coalition
37. Alan Haber, Cabinetmaker, Ann Arbor, Michigan
38. Patrick Califia-Rice, author and AIDS activist
39. Dominic Hamilton-Little, New York, NY
40. Romeo Sanchez, Alliance for Inmates with AIDS (AlliA)
41. James Russo, Catholic Social Services, Ann Arbor MI
42. Cynthia Skow, MSW; California Prison Focus
43. Jeff Graham, Executive Director, AIDS Survival Project
44. Asia Russell, Project TEACH Outside, Philadelphia Pennsylvania
45. Jeff Gustavson, member, ACTG Immunology Research Agenda Committee, Survive AIDS
46. Kate Krauss, Health GAP Coalition
47. Kevin O'Leary, Editor in Chief, Male Magazine
48. Anna Forbes, MSS, AIDS and Women's Health Policy Consultant; Instructor, Bryn
Mawr School of Social Work and Social Research
49. Heidi Dorow, Women's Institute for Leadership Development
50. Julie. Davids, Director, Critical Path AIDS Project
51. Susan Wolfson, Founder, SENSEI Health
52. David Gilden, Director of Treatment Information, American Foundation for AIDS Research
53. Charlie. Welch, New York, NY
54. Richard Elovich, Former Director of HIV Prevention, GMHC, NYC
55. Phill Wilson, Founde.r, African American AIDS Policy and Training
Institute
56. Katie Szymanski, Assistant Editor, Bay Area Reporter
57. Shawn Decker, AIDS Educator and Activist
58. Gwenn Barringer, AIDS Educator and Activist
59. Emily Mills
60. RonniLyn Pustil, CATIE (Community AIDS Information and Treatment Exchange
Canada)
61. Steve Schalchlin, composer/lyricist
62. Sarah Schulman, activist and author, People in Trouble.
63. Mark Schoofs, staff reporter, Wall Street Journal
64. Illith Rosenbimn, activist
65. Bill Dobbs, member, Queer Watch
66. Daniel Wolfs, author, Men Like Us: The GMHC Complete Guide to Gay Men 's Sexual, Physical and Emotional Well-being
67. Frank Pizzoli, Founder, Positive Opportunities
68. Mark deSollaPrice, Author, Living Positively in a World with HJV/AIDS
69. Susanna Martin, SLAM High School Organizing Program
70. Rebecca Neren berg, Managing Editor, HEPP News (HIV and Hepatitis
Education/Prison Project)
71. Anne S. De Groot, MD, TB/HIV Research Lab, Brown University
72. Molly Snyder-Fink
73. Terry A. Klipers, M.D., M.S.P., Prof. at The Wright Institute
74. Augustus Nasmith, Jr., Past President, AIDS, Medicine & Miracles
75. Nikolas Stein, Paralegal, Southern Center for Human Rights, Atlanta, GA
76. Noa Kielurnan, Queensbury, UK
77. Cathy Olufs, Treatment Advocate, Women Alive Coalition
78. Brenda Calderon, Treatment Advocate, Women Alive Coalition
79. Marina Gornez, Treatment Advocate, Women Alive Coalition
80. Nancy MacNeil, Executive Director, Women Alive Coalition
81. Alma Alvarez, Fiscal Manager, Women Alive Coalition
82. Beverly Mosley, Board of Directors President, Women Alive Coalition
83. Mary Lucy, City AIDS Office, Los Angeles
84. John A. Beck, Senior Supervising Attorney, Prisoners' Rights Project, Legal Aid Society
85. Dave Powell, organizer, Met Council on Housing; Board President, ABC-No-Rio Community Center (LES)
86. Judy Greenspan, Chairperson, HIV in Prison Committee of California Prison Focus
87. Dawn Dawson, New York City
88. John Kirn, Project Coordinator, SLAM/United Student Government, Hunter College
89. Rebecca Denison, WORLD (Women Organized to Respond to Life-Threatening Diseases), San Francisco
90. Thomas Scott Tucker, author and activist
91. Larry Gross, Professor of Communications, University of Pennsylvania
92. Lauren Cornel!, Deep Dish Television, NYC
93. Beth Feinberg, Justice Network on Women
94. Milton Zele.rmyer, Staff Attorney, Legal Aid Society, NYC
August 9, 2004

Jack Rosenthal
Public Editor
The New York Times

Dear Mr. Rosenthal:

In Linda Villarosa’s Aug. 7 front-page article, Patients With HIV Seen as Separated By a Racial Divide, several vital statistics are omitted from the story, which I believe should have been included, along with crucial information related to an expert quoted in the story. [1]

Villarosa didn’t mention these important statistics from the Centers for Disease Control:

- AIDS is the sixth leading cause of death for African-American males, according to 2001 data, the latest available from the federal agency.

- CDC data also shows AIDS is the tenth leading cause of death for African-American females.[2,3]

I don’t take issue with the HIV/AIDS statistics presented by Villarosa, but I do feel she had a responsibility to place them in the larger context of AIDS mortality statistics for blacks.

As you’ll recall, Villarosa had a strikingly similar AIDS and blacks article in the New York Times on April 5, also on the front-page, which failed to reference leading cause of death statistics from CDC. Her two page 1 AIDS articles bring much-needed attention to the plight of African-Americans living with the disease, and those at risk of contracting the virus. [4]

But I can’t locate any front-page articles in the New York Times on the other diseases afflicting and killing blacks in larger numbers than AIDS. Where are the comparable stories on African-Americans dying of heart disease, cancer, stroke and homicide?

Also, the Aug. 7 article quotes Mr. Phill Wilson, executive director of the Black AIDS Institute in Los Angeles, and an expert in HIV prevention and treatment matters.

What is missing from the passage about him is information about a recent Department of Health and Human Services audit that found Wilson and his collaborators at the University of Southern California hadn’t properly managed more than $1 million from a federal grant to assist African-Americans with AIDS. [5]

The Los Angeles Times on July 31 reported on Wilson and USC being asked to return $1 million to HHS. That story stemmed from a 48-page audit issued on July 9 by HHS and available on the web. [6]

Actually, maybe it wouldn’t have been appropriate for Villarosa to tell New York Times readers about Wilson’s lax controls and conflict of interest documented in the federal audit in the Aug. 7 news story.

Perhaps what’s called for instead is a separate article just on the HHS audit, the mishandling of $1 million in AIDS research money by Wilson and USC, and the detrimental impact the mismanagement had on black patients with AIDS.

(On a related side matter, only the 1999 and 2000 IRS 990 forms from the Black AIDS Institute are posted on GuideStar.com, the most comprehensive and up-to-date site on the web for tax returns from all charities.)

Since the New York Times frequently seeks out Wilson for quotes on AIDS issues, and has for years, as a simple search of the paper’s archives shows, the paper now has a duty to give readers the facts about the HHS audit, which fully places blame for the fiscal problems at his feet.

Frankly, in keeping readers ignorant about the audit and Wilson’s mismanagement, some could say the New York Times is showing favoritism toward one newsmaker.

A prompt reply is requested and appreciated.

Sincerely,

Michael Petrelis
San Francisco, CA

Sources:
1. NY Times
2. CDC mortality stats on black men
3. CDC mortality stats on black women
4. NY Times
5. HHS audit
6. LA Times

Los Angeles Times
July 31, 2004 Saturday
SECTION: CALIFORNIA; Metro; Metro Desk; Part B; Pg. 3

Los Angeles; USC Told to Repay Funds for Program;
Officials admit errors in plan to train HIV/AIDS counselors but disagree on the financial figures.

BYLINE: Stuart Silverstein, Times Staff Writer

Federal auditors are calling for USC to pay back more than $1 million in government funds because of the university's lapses in managing a program to train HIV/AIDS counselors for minority communities.

USC's program was shut down by federal officials in 2001 in response to concerns about conflict of interest, improper research procedures and misuse of federal funds.

The resulting audit, released this week, uncovered further evidence of those problems and said the program failed in its goal of training HIV/AIDS counselors, or "peer treatment educators."

USC, which brought some of the problems to the government's attention, acknowledged making mistakes and said it had followed recommendations from regulators to overhaul its practices.

The university, however, is challenging auditors' recommendation to repay or forfeit $1.08 million of the $1.27 million in federal funds spent on the effort. While agreeing that some of the university's expenses should be disallowed, USC said other costs have already been federally approved. In addition, USC said it sought to end the program after one year but agreed to keep running it at the request of its federal partners in the initiative.

One of the major flaws cited by auditors with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services was the university's failure to resolve a conflict of interest involving a official hired by USC to run the project.

That official, identified by the university as Phill Wilson, managed the effort for USC while he also headed an AIDS awareness organization that was a subcontractor to the program, the auditors found.

According to the audit, part of the allegedly unauthorized spending charged to the government involved money that was improperly diverted to unrelated activities of Wilson's nonprofit organization, the African American AIDS Policy and Training Institute.

In other cases, the auditors found that padded or inadequately documented expense claims were submitted for such things as wages, travel, consulting services, public relations, and Internet and video services.

No referral has been made for a criminal investigation, according to Donald White, a spokesman for Health and Human Services' Office of Inspector General, which conducted the audit.

Wilson, 48, was hired by USC to manage the program and left the university's payroll when the effort was shut down. He is now director of a Los Angeles-based AIDS charity, the Black AIDS Institute, which he described as a successor to the African American AIDS Policy and Training Institute.

Although Wilson resigned as executive director of the African American AIDS Policy and Training Institute apparently in response to conflict-of-interest concerns, the audit found that, in fact, he continued to manage the organization.

The auditors contended that the apparent conflict of interest opened the door for money to be diverted to other activities of Wilson's organization. Those included soliciting sponsors for an AIDS march and conducting town hall meetings in various states to spur political action related to HIV issues. Wilson's organization claimed $501,000 in expenses, about 40% of the total.

When reached by The Times, Wilson said he could not comment on the audit because he had not read it. After being e-mailed a copy of the report, he failed to return follow-up phone calls seeking his response.

The audit indicates that another large part of the questionable $1.08 million in spending was deemed unauthorized because of the program operators' failure to have participants sign the appropriate informed-consent forms meeting USC and federal requirements.

The forms, the audit said, were required because the 41 first-year participants being trained as HIV/AIDS counselors, many of whom were infected with the virus, were asked various research questions related to their health and sexual behavior. Informed-consent forms are intended to protect the privacy and well-being of people who serve as research subjects.

Auditors said the participants signed consent forms, but not the ones approved by USC's institutional research board, which supervises research involving human subjects. As a result, the board never authorized the program's research.

The audit also said the research continued because Wilson -- whose formal title on the project was co-principal investigator -- disagreed with the campus research board's position that the participants were research subjects protected by the university policy. The report found that Wilson was "not an experienced researcher," but that after being hired by USC, he proceeded to "contact, recruit, enroll, test and gather information from the peer treatment educators."

White said the case was being referred for further review to the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration, which was USC's partner in the program, and the Office for Human Research Protections, another unit in the Health and Human Services Department.

USC, meanwhile, plans to appeal to the Health Resources and Services Administration to reduce the sum it will need to pay the federal government.

"We've acknowledged some culpability here; we've acknowledged that we made some mistakes. It's just a question of the amount that's due," said Laura L. LaCorte, senior associate vice president in the office of compliance at USC.

"We really had tried to take some proactive steps in this case, and I think successfully did. The person responsible is no longer here," she added, referring to Wilson.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

The Boston Phoenix's astute media critic, Dan Kennedy, whose blog from the Democratic convention was addictive and informative, writes this week about journalists giving money to candidates and parties.

Kennedy's fair and balanced column delves into donations from The Nation's editor, Katrina vanden Heuvel, her political agenda and responsibilities as a journalist.

"I've never allowed my donations or whatever relationships I have to influence the magazine in any way, save for the fact that I believe what I believe in the first place. Being a journalist/editor does not take away my right to free speech, as I see it," she tells Kennedy.

On a fundamental level, I agree with her statement and I wish to reiterate that I'm not in favor of barring media personalities, especially those on the left, from writing checks to politicians or causes.

What I want, from all media outlets, regardless of where they fall on the political spectrum, to fully disclose contributions, in print, on air and on the web.

Here is a recent example, from a column co-authored by vanden Heuvel and Robert L. Borosage in the August 2 edition of The Nation, where transparency was called for.

"The ground war this fall will be waged by independent organizations--called 527s for the tax-code provision they operate under--formed by progressive activists from labor, America Coming Together, Voices for Working Families and others," opined vanden Heuvel and Borosage. (Source: The Nation; 08/02/04)

The writers omitted the fact vanden Heuvel is part of the "others," and has donated $66,665 to a 527 organization. I find her largesse laudable, as would many other readers of The Nation, but unless they know about tray.com and go there to research her political giving, readers remain ignorant about it.

Katrina, if you're reading this, please come out of the contributor's closet and declare your donations in the pages of The Nation.

The listings below come from www.tray.com.

Vanden Huevel, Katrina
3/7/2003 $16,666.00
New York, NY 10025
The Nation Magazine -[Contribution to a 527 organization]
EMILYS LIST NON FEDERAL

Vanden Huevel, Katrina
8/4/2003 $16,667.00
New York, NY 10025
The Nation Magazine -[Contribution to a 527 organization]
EMILYS LIST NON FEDERAL

Vanden Huevel, Katrina
10/28/2003 $33,332.00
New York, NY 10025
The Nation Magazine -[Contribution to a 527 organization]
EMILYS LIST NON FEDERAL
^^^



The Boston Phoenix
Aug. 6, 2004

Blood from stones;
A blogger digs up the unexpected; Political contributions from journalists

By Dan Kennedy

SILLY ME. I’d always thought one of the few perks of working in the news business was that you had a good excuse for not giving money to politicians. Now I know that quite a few journalists do so anyway.

That knowledge springs largely from the efforts of Michael Petrelis, a San Francisco–based AIDS activist and Ralph Nader supporter who has been posting journalists’ political contributions on his weblog, Petrelis Files (www.mpetrelis.blogspot.com). It’s not that no one could have done it before him. After all, he relies on well-known resources such as OpenSecrets.org and Tray.com. But until Petrelis came along, almost no one had thought to plug the names of journalists and news organizations into these databases. Or at least they didn’t publish the results.

Thanks to Petrelis, I know that Hendrik Hertzberg, senior editor of the New Yorker, has donated $900 to John Kerry’s presidential campaign, among other contributions — including one to former secretary of labor Robert Reich’s 2002 campaign for governor of Massachusetts. Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor of the Nation, has given nearly $150,000 to various candidates and causes since 1984, Petrelis has found, including EMILY’s List, Bill Bradley’s 1990 Senate campaign in New Jersey, California senator Dianne Feinstein, and — yes — Reich.

Ironically, Petrelis — who began his crusade this past spring, after a friend was dropped as a New York Times freelancer for his own political activities — says he has no problem with journalists who donate to politicians. "It would trouble me if editors said that First Amendment right does not apply to reporters who make donations," he says. Rather, he asserts, it’s all about "transparency, transparency, transparency" — that is, the problem isn’t that they’ve given, it’s that they haven’t disclosed. And though he has put most of his energy into exposing fellow liberals, he is quick to note that conservative media figures such as Rupert Murdoch and William Buckley are big givers as well.

But Petrelis’s philosophy is not shared by many mainstream news organizations, some of which have policies specifically prohibiting political activity. The San Francisco Chronicle recently placed its letters editor on paid leave, then transferred him to the copy desk, after it learned that a Stanford University–based Web site was planning a story on his financial contributions to the Kerry campaign and three local candidates.

Locally, the Boston Globe reported in a July 22 item on Petrelis’s activities that two Boston newsroom employees had made donations: Chris Donnelly, a librarian at the Boston Herald, who’d given $3200 to Kerry and other Democratic causes, and Henry Riemer, a sports statistician at the Globe, who’d donated $1700 to Howard Dean’s presidential campaign. But the Globe didn’t dig deep enough: the state’s Office of Campaign and Political Finance has its own searchable Web site for state campaigns.

Petrelis forwarded to me — and I verified — the names of several other donating journalists, including Globe copy editor Stephen Hatch, who’d given $72 to the Green-Rainbow Party; Globe sportswriter Gordon Edes, who’d donated $400 to a legislative candidate named Ronald Lamothe; and Herald copy editor Richard Swanson, who’s given $200 to State Representative Michael Festa.

Globe policy prohibits newsroom employees from making political contributions, says editor Martin Baron, although he notes that Edes’s contributions were made in 2002, before the policy was made explicit. (The paper’s spokesman, BMaynard Scarborough, says no such rule applies to employees on the business side except for publisher Richard Gilman, who falls under a New York Times Company policy barring publishers from making donations. Scarborough points out that the newsroom ultimately reports to Gilman.) Baron adds that he intends to remind staff members of those rules, and that the matter will likely be addressed in a comprehensive ethics policy being drafted. Baron says that the ban exists so as not to "create the impression that we are being partisan."

Neither Herald editorial director Ken Chandler nor the paper’s spokeswoman, Gwen Gage, responded to requests for comment. But staff writer Tom Mashberg, the Newspaper Guild’s top newsroom officer, says, "As far as I know, there’s never been any directive barring staffers from making political contributions." And Guild president Lesley Phillips, a Herald staff member, says such a policy would be subject to collective bargaining.

A quick search of Boston’s electronic media revealed no contributions from newsroom employees. John Davidow, managing editor and news director at WBUR Radio (90.9 FM), says journalists at his station are prohibited from "signing petitions, making donations, fundraising, hosting parties."

Media ethicists generally agree that rules prohibiting political donations are wise. Stephen Burgard, director of Northeastern University’s School of Journalism, says that if donations were allowed, "I think there’s a problem for the public believing that that journalist is going to be able to fairly and impartially cover a news event." Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, based in Washington, DC, agrees — and says the rule should be applied to opinion columnists as well, since even advocates shouldn’t be perceived as having a stake in the outcome. "The role of the journalist in society is that of the committed observer," Rosenstiel says. "There are certain things you don’t do." Neither Burgard nor Rosenstiel, though, was as troubled by the notion of writers at opinion journals making donations — although Burgard says he would prefer that they not.

Rick Hertzberg did not respond to a request for comment. But he recently told the Baltimore Sun that the New Yorker’s editor, David Remnick, had approved his contributions on the grounds that he is paid expressly to give his opinion.

Katrina vanden Heuvel told me that she considers her left-liberal magazine to be part of the activist community, and that she is proud of Nation writers who have marched in demonstrations, ranging from the nuclear-freeze movement in the 1980s to protests against the war in Iraq. "I’ve never allowed my donations or whatever relationships I have to influence the magazine in any way, save for the fact that I believe what I believe in the first place," vanden Heuvel says. "Being a journalist/editor does not take away my right to free speech, as I see it."

Besides, vanden Heuvel favors a reform that would make the entire matter moot: publicly financed political campaigns. That, though, would require action by the Supreme Court. Until then, she’s going to put her money where her laptop is.
Dear Friends:

After another computer crash, the fourth in six months, on top of numerous viruses, worms, help from two techies, a visit from SBC to restore my DSL services, hours on the phone with AOL, SBC and SMC, shelling out money for PC assistance and new equipment, too much spent reinstalling programs and recovering lost documents, I've decided to take a break from the web.

Starting on Friday, my modem and DSL connection will be unplugged, for at least a week, probably longer. I will not be sending or reading emails, surfing the web, nor posting to my blog.

As someone who has never learned to drive a car, and doesn't own a cell phone, heck, I've used friends' cell phone no more than 8 - 9 times, I like to distance myself from some aspects of modern life.

If you need to reach me during this hiatus, please do so the old-fashioned way -- on the telephone. My number is 415-621-6267.
- - -


Rupert Murdoch
Rupert@newscorps.com
Chairman
News Corporation

Dear Mr. Murdoch:

One of your Fox News commentators, Mr. Neal Gabler, on the July 24 broadcast of "Fox News Watch" called for the creation of web site where donations from media personalities to politicians are permanently available for the public.

This idea of Gabler's is one I wholly support, and proposed a variation on that idea back on April 13 to Mr. Arthur Sulzberger Jr., chairman of the New York Times, at his company's annual shareholders meeting.

As a shareholder, I suggested that Reporter's Disclosure Page section be added to the Times web site informing readers of outside activities on the part of editorial staff that may influence their reporting. Unfortunately, Mr. Sulzberger rejected this call for increased transparency at his publication.

Mr. Gabler proposed "a kind of clearinghouse, a Web site, where every possible potential conflict of interest is listed on that site. And the address of that site runs occasionally at the bottom on crawls on all the networks and all the cable networks, and even in print, so that if you want to know whether somebody is having lunch with somebody or is invested somehow or is a friend of somebody or is giving money to somebody, you can find that out. Absolute full disclosure."

I ask you to establish a Disclosure Page on the Fox News web site showing, at minimum, visitors your Federal Election Commission files, along with those of other Fox News executives, reporters and commentators.

If you and Fox News were to do this, other media outlets would be pressured to meet the standard set by your corporation -- full disclosure of political contributions.

How would it look if your set an example with the disclosure page, and the New York Times didn't follow suit?

I'm not persuaded the American public needs a single web site devoted to tracking and disclosing media personalities' political giving.

Instead, it should be every media outlet's civic and journalistic responsibility to meet the highest standards of transparency, which means full disclosure on the outlet's site, permanently post for anyone to read.

Below is the transcript from Fox's "New Watch" of July 24.

I ask for a prompt reply.

Sincerely,
Michael Petrelis
San Francisco, CA
^^^

FOX NEWS WATCH
July 24, 2004

Host: Eric Burns
Panelists: Cal Thomas, James Pinkerton, Neal Gabler, Jane Hall


Segment Two: Should Journalists Make Financial Contributions to Campaigns?

BURNS: An editor for the "San Francisco Chronicle" has been suspended
for making a $400 contribution to John Kerry's presidential campaign. And
according to other reports, the editor of "The New Republic" gave Kerry
$2,000. A "New Yorker" senior editor gave Kerry $900. A "Wall Street
Journal" writer gave Kerry $300, a "Time" magazine editorial assistant gave
Nader $1,200. And our boss, Rupert Murdoch, gave Bush $2,000, but in the
past has contributed money to the senatorial campaigns of Kerry and Ted
Kennedy. In fact, here are the logos of some of the news organizations
whose employees have donated money to political candidates in recent years.
Problem?

HALL: Duh, as my students would say, yes. You know, I think that
journalists should be prohibited from giving political contributions. And
if I understood this correctly, some of the contributions that this follow
-- tracks on this blog from "The New York Times" came after "The New York
Times" issued a ban. I mean, I think we should be fair and look up what
Fox News people did, look up what anybody did. This is a no-brainer, as
far as I'm concerned. It makes us as look as if we are tainted.

BURNS: Anybody disagree?

PINKERTON: Yes.

BURNS: OK.

PINKERTON: Well, first of all, hats off to Mike Petrollus (ph),
crusading blogger out there, who did a lot of work that nobody else wanted
to do on this score. Second of all, look, I think if you make a deal with
your employer and your employer says, "No you can't contribute" then you
do, then you're breaking a deal with an employer. However, in general, I
don't think employers or anybody, including journalists, should demand that
you deprive yourself of your citizenship rights. I think they should be
disclosed. I think that the.

BURNS: Well, how would you disclose it? Jim, let's say someone's
writing an article. In that article, if he's writing an article about
Kerry, he gave Kerry $500.

PINKERTON: Yes, I think that would good. And it should also, of
course, go to the Federal Election Commission like it does. But look, I
mean it's revealing. I would rather know that somebody is pro-Democrat or
pro-Nader, or for that matter, pro-Bush, by not seeing where they gave
money and then trying to decipher what their spin might be in their
article.

GABLER: First of all, not all these people are journalists, No. 1.

BURNS: Right, but they're all in.

(CROSSTALK)

GABLER: I think what can make a distinction here between straight
reporters who should not have an investment, I think, in a story because it
may cloud their judgment, and opinion writers, of whom some of these people
were, who, you know, are out there saying they support Kerry or support
Bush, so giving money is really no big deal.

But look it, there are a million different potential conflicts of
interest, from the investments you make to the kind of the tax cuts you
got, from George Bush or that you might possibly get from Kerry, to the
person you're married to. NBC's Andrea Mitchell is married to the
Republican policy maker, the head of the Fed, Alan Greenspan.

Now, here's what I propose: what I propose is that we have a kind of
clearinghouse, a Web site, where every possible potential conflict of
interest is listed on that site. And the address of that site runs
occasionally at the bottom on crawls on all the networks and all the cable
networks, and even in print, so that if you want to know whether somebody
is having lunch with somebody or is invested somehow or is a friend of
somebody or is giving money to somebody, you can find that out. Absolute
full disclosure.

THOMAS: Well, first of all, I've never given a dollar to a politician
willingly. I do it through my tax dollars too often. But secondly, there
are many ways to make contributions to politicians, and journalists do it
all the time, by the nature of the stories they select, the kinds of
coverage they give, the types of questions they ask candidates they like as
opposed to the kinds of questions they ask candidates they don't like.

BURNS: Which is to say what, Cal, money is just one more.

(CROSSTALK)

THOMAS: Money is just one of the -- and I agree with.

BURNS: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and it's OK?

THOMAS: Yes, well, I wouldn't do it. And I think, you know, there --
CBS has guidelines against it, which have been violated in the past. "The
New York Times" has guidelines. But look, Linda Greenhouse, who covers the
Supreme Court for "The New York Times" once participated in a pro-choice
demonstration before the United States Supreme Court. So maybe she didn't
give any money to a pro-choice candidate, but is this clouding her
coverage? "The New York Times" thought so and reprimanded her, and
properly so.

HALL: OK, well then if we're going to do this, let's also list all
the advertisers that people are scared of offending. Let's list all the
cigarette advertisers and look at women's magazines.

THOMAS: I'm all for that.

HALL: .and how much coverage they give to lung cancer. That is, you
know.

BURNS: But if this -- if the information on this Web site, when we're
looking.

HALL: This Web site is going to get bigger and bigger.

BURNS: .at gets to be longer than "Anna Karenina," no one's going to
read it.

PINKERTON: Well, somebody will. And I'm still reeling from Neal's
suggestion -- I should say I ride in the elevator every so often with
Senator Bunning of Kentucky, who lives in my building in Washington. So
there, there's another one.

GABLER: Do you exchange pleasantries because I want to know that!

BURNS: What about the very notion though that Jim suggested earlier?
Do it, make the contributions unless you have a specific prohibition in
your contract, but reveal them?

THOMAS: Yes, I don't.

BURNS: Is that the best solution to this narrow issue of giving
money.

THOMAS: But you know, it's not just politicians, though. For
example, my good friend, Bill Press, gave a $1,000 to the Gay and Lesbian
Victory Fund. Now, that wasn't a person. That was an ideology, a
political point of view. So should it be limited just to campaigns or to
causes?

PINKERTON: Yes, all charities. I mean, it would never stop.

BURNS: So the problem here is once we start, the slope is so
slippery.

PINKERTON: Right. But I think we should start at least. I do think
just contributions to candidates ought to be disclosed. But I think they
ought to be permitted. I don't think people should lose their citizenship.

GABLER: Well, the best solution would be abstinence, in this, as in a
number of things. However.

HALL: As opposed to don't ask, don't tell.

GABLER: But I'd like to see that Web site.

BURNS: "Anna Karenina," too much information. It's time for another
break. We'll be back with our "Quick Takes."

ANNOUNCER: The verdict was last week, but the media blitz with all
the columns and editorials and opinion pieces is still going on, so is FOX
NEWS WATCH after these messages.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

Monday, August 02, 2004

David Remnick
Editor
The New Yorker Magazine

Dear Mr. Remnick:

In my opinion, the American press lacks full transparency regarding political donations from editorial staff and their political advocacy work.

As you know, I've brought attention to the fact that one of your senior editors, Hendrik Hertzberg, has donated $900 to Sen. John Kerry's presidential campaign, which has not been disclosed in the pages of the New Yorker.

But I write to you today about Hertzberg serving on the board of directors of the Center for Voting and Democracy. This nonprofit organization supports instant runoff voting and other methods of increasing voter participation in the electoral process, ideals I fully endorse. [1]

Hertzberg has written favorable things about instant runoff voting in the New Yorker, but has failed to disclose his status as a board member of the Center for Voting and Democracy.

In the Nov. 24, 2003, edition of the New Yorker, Hertzberg's column about the California gubernatorial recall election, he wrote:

"Here’s a better way [to run elections]: choose the replacement not by plurality but by instant runoff voting. Under I.R.V., a voter lists as many candidates as he or she wishes in order of preference. In the counting, the electoral computer drops the least popular candidates, one by one, and instantly recounts the votes for the candidates who remain until one of them accumulates an outright majority." [2]

Further back in time, in the March 25, 2002, issue, Hertzberg said:

"If the instant-runoff system begins to take hold, the impact on America's political culture could be profound. It would encourage civility, discourage fratricidal negative campaigning, prevent the election of candidates strongly opposed by majorities, and broaden the range of candidates while eliminating the third-party spoiler phenomenon." [3]

In both columns, disclosure from Hertzberg was missing.

So my question to you is, why has the New Yorker thus far opted to not inform readers of Hertzberg's involvement with the Center for Voting and Democracy and its worthwhile agenda?

A prompt reply is requested.

Regards,
Michael Petrelis
San Francisco, CA
Ph: 415-621-6267

Sources:
1. Center for Voting and Democracy
2. New Yorker, Nov. 24, 2003
3. New Yorker, March 25, 2003


Sunday, August 01, 2004

Many of you will recall the legal troubles I faced in 2001/2002 over phone calls I made to San Francisco Chronicle reporters and editors.

The paper brought felony charges against me, all of which were dropped by the former San Francisco district attorney, and falsely alleged in print that I made a telephone bomb threat to the newsroom. Thankfully, no charges involving that supposed phone threat were filed, and the Chronicle has yet to publish a correction to the phone allegation.

In the summer of 2002, as my court-appointed attorney negotiated a plea bargain, the Chronicle's gay AIDS reporter, Christopher Heredia, twice phoned me looking for a quote regarding my complaints to Centers for Disease Control that led to an investigation of the Stop AIDS Project. Needless to say, since it would have violated the temporary restraining orders in place back then, I didn't return Heredia's calls, and he reported such in his article about CDC auditors coming to San Francisco for a look at Stop AIDS Project's books and HIV prevention programs.

Around this same time, another Chronicle reporter, Lance Williams, left several voice mail messages, wanting to chat with me about Willie Brown's AIDS summit in 1998 because I had forced the former Mayor to divulge who had paid for the meeting. After much wrangling between my lawyer and the paper's attorney, I was allowed to have a phone conversation with Williams, without returning to the county jail.

That was the extent of my contacts with the Chronicle, initiated by its reporters, up until two weeks ago when the chief political correspondent, Carla Marinucci, left a detailed message for me. She was preparing a piece on Ralph Nader's run for president, and since I was listed as the San Francisco volunteer coordinator on votenader.org, she wanted my opinion. (She must not be aware of what a "threat" I am to her and her colleagues.)

Not wanting to don jailhouse orange sweats again, I didn't call Marinucci back. I simply reveled in the irony of a Chronicle reporter calling me about anything, after the legal wringer they put me through, and saved the message.

Now, I read in today's Chronicle a column by the paper's Readers' Representative, Dick Rogers, about the issue of reporters donating to politicians.

Rogers references my research on this matter, and provides readers with my blog address. Not one word from him about my troubles with the paper. My boyfriend and I shared a hearty laugh about this omission. I've gone from an alleged associated of Osama bin Laden's to AIDS activist, in the eyes of the Chronicle. This paper's flip-flopping on me is in the neighborhood of John Kerry's position on the Iraqi war.

All that aside, it's good to know the issue of media personalities contributing to politicians and causes has such beautiful strong legs that Marlene Dietrich would be envious.
^^^


August 1, 2004
The San Francisco Chronicle

Credibility on the line
by Dick Rogers
WOULD YOU CARE if the journalist who chooses letters for the editorial page had made campaign contributions to one of the presidential candidates?

If you saw a newspaper story about what good coverage some magazines were doing on a certain issue, would you be more skeptical of the story if you discovered the author had written the articles he praised?

Would you care if material in the paper had been taken from other sources without credit?

Taken together, would the three situations affect your willingness to believe what you read in the newspaper?

These aren't trick questions. They're real-world examples from The Chronicle.

On June 23, Chronicle Design Editor Zahid Sardar wrote about the absence of Bay Area designers and architects in national home-design magazines, and he lauded articles in Western Interiors and Design for bucking the pattern. What he didn't disclose, The Chronicle reported in a July 14 clarification, was that he had written those same articles he praised.

On the same week as the clarification ran, the paper placed the editor of the Letters to the Editor, Bill Pates, on paid leave after the Stanford University-based journalism Web site GradetheNews.org called for comment on a story it planned about his contributions to presidential hopeful John Kerry and to candidates in three local races. The paper has decided that Pates no longer may select which letters will appear in print. He now works as a copy editor for another department.

And on July 22, the paper reported to readers that KPIX meteorologist Samantha Mohr would no longer provide her daily Chronicle weather feature because it was determined that some of them contained "verbatim unattributed material" from Internet sites.

Most readers, I think, would agree that slyly self-congratulatory coverage and use of uncredited material are impermissible and a threat to a newspaper's credibility. But what about journalists who engage in politics on their free time? Why shouldn't reporters or editors contribute to the candidates of their choice? Why shouldn't they campaign for the candidates who reflect their own political views?

Isn't this the journalists' First Amendment right? If so, does it mean that newspapers have no First Amendment right to protect their reputation for fairness and honesty through conflict-of-interest rules that restrain political activism?

These questions are causing consternation and confusion inside and outside the newsroom because the answer is not clear. The subject is also gaining attention in these tense, divisive political times, when papers are put on the defensive by partisans of all stripes who lobby for what amounts to journalism of affirmation.

In addition to the Grade the News piece, a Page 1 story last January in the Washington Post reported that more than 100 journalists and executives at major news outlets had given money to politicians, sometimes in violation of their employers' own policies.

Michael Petrelis, an AIDS activist based in San Francisco, is getting a lot of attention for his blog (www.mpetrelis.blogspot.com) in which he discloses political contributions by news people.

What I wanted to write here was a resounding, bulletproof, no-two-ways- about-it argument for a conflict of interest policy that goes like this: "Here at The Chronicle, we don't take favors and we don't give to politicians. Period. End of subject."

That's the best way to tell readers that the paper operates without fear or favor; that it covers the news without trying to shape the news; that it makes its editorial and coverage decisions independently; that it holds no IOUs and grants no IOUs.

The paper's code stops well short of that. When it comes to political activities, it counsels newsroom staffers to avoid the appearance of conflict and it lists potential problem areas (campaign contributions; public endorsements; displays of banners, posters and signs). Then it says this:

"Use your best judgment. When there is a possible question, staff members should consult with the executive editor or his designee."

That's a hole big enough to drive a Hummer through. As a result, it doesn't give the journalists in the newsroom clear guidance and it doesn't give the paper solid protection.

It's no accident: The policy was written with one eye on California Labor Code Sections 1101 and 1102, decades-old statutory provisions intended to protect union organizing activity. The language is far more sweeping, though, saying plainly that employers can't impose rules restricting any employee's political activities or affiliations.

That's a bitter pill for any paper that, constantly attacked from the left and the right, seeks to say to the world that it calls the news as it sees it, with no allegiances and no alliances.

But it's not the final word. Seven years ago the Washington State Supreme Court upheld a Tacoma newspaper's First Amendment right to curtail political activism on the part of one of its reporters. The case was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined to hear it. So at this point, it's not a precedent in California, though it can be used for its persuasive value in court, should the issue come to legal blows here.

Meanwhile, management at The Chronicle is examining the ethics policy, intent on increasing clarity and eliminating ambiguities.

Ethics is a squishy business and there are plenty of gray areas. The paper should want staffers to engage in civic life, yet keep their distance from institutions and issues they might have to cover. Staffers should be able to use their creative talents outside of work, whether for personal satisfaction or monetary gain, yet they shouldn't do it at the expense of the paper.

But when it comes to news people and political entanglements, it's clear to me:

Don't take, don't give. Period. End of subject.



Tuesday, July 27, 2004

I expected more of a hit-piece from Richard Goldstein, the executive editor of the Village Voice who's writing their Press Clips column these days, on me and my recent looks at political giving by media personalities, but on balance, I like what he wrote. Although he adopts a dismissive tone, Goldstein nonetheless calls attention to the issue of media transparency.

There is one part of his column that needs addressing. Goldstein berates me for not having research and posted data on the following conservative pundits: Tucker Carlson, Robert Novak, George Will and William F. Buckley.

Guess it wasn't good enough that as a one-man operation, I spent the time looking at FEC and state campaign finance disclosure forms on dozens and dozens of reporters and outlets, in Goldstein's eyes. He was interested in those columnists and any giving they may have done. Fair enough.

But Goldstein doesn't explain why he couldn't find half an hour to visit tray.com and look at the columnists' files himself. Or assign an intern or two from the Village Voice to do so.

Granted, my method and scope in this personal project of mine isn't perfect, thoroughly comprehensive or scientific.

However, the Village Voice does possess the resources necessary to perform better research on the columnists' campaign donations. Heck, so does Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting, Accuracy in Media, the Columbia Journalism Review, the Poynter Institute, et al., but instead of nudging them to get cracking at investigating such donations, Goldstein chides me, as if I have the resources to carry out the kind of research _he_ wants.

Since Goldstein couldn't be bothered to examine donations by those opinion writers, and the president and publisher of Buckley's National Review, I did it for him. Took all of thirty minutes, including looking at records from California.

First of all, going back to 1980, no donations showed up for Novak, Will and Thomas. Only one contribution turned up for Carlson.

Secondly, looking only at giving by Buckley and colleagues in the current federal election cycle, they've done quite a bit of checkwriting. Of course, they've done much more giving in other elections, but sharing that data in this post would make it as long as "Anna Karenna." As always, you can find all of the federal donations from Carlson, Buckley and crew at tray.com.

Third, they all donated to conservative politicians and PACs.

And if you, or Goldstein want to research state campaign finance disclosures, check out this site, which lists the links to such sites.

Goldstein's column appears below after some data on Carlson, Buckley and his colleagues.
^^^

BUCKLEY, JR. WILLIAM F. MR. JR., NATIONAL REVIEW, EDITOR, STAMFORD, CT 06902
SIMON FOR GOVERNOR, BILL, ID#1233478

$2,000.00

5/23/2001



SIMON FOR GOVERNOR, BILL, ID#1233478

$2,000.00

5/28/2002


SIMON FOR GOVERNOR, BILL, ID#1233478

$500.00

1/31/2002



RHODES THOMAS L. MR., NATIONAL REVIEW, PRESIDENT, NEW YORK, NY 10016
SIMON FOR GOVERNOR, BILL, ID#1233478

$25,000.00

5/29/2002

SIMON FOR GOVERNOR, BILL, ID#1233478

$2,500.00

2/13/2002

(Source: CA campaign disclosures)


FEDERAL DONATIONS

CARLSON, TUCKER S
3/22/1995 $1,000.00
ALEXANDRIA, VA 22314
THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION -[Contribution]
ALEXANDER FOR PRESIDENT INC

Buckley, William F. Mr. Jr.
6/12/2000 $500.00
Stamford, CT 06902
National Review/Author/Editor -[Contribution]
BUSH FOR PRESIDENT INC

BUCKLEY, WILLIAM F. MR. JR.
6/24/2002 $200.00
STAMFORD, CT 06902
NATIONAL REVIEW/EDITOR -[Contribution]
NATIONAL REPUBLICAN CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEE CONTRIBUTIONS

Buckley, William F. Mr. Jr.
10/4/2002 $250.00
New York, NY 10016
National Review/Editor-At-Large -[Contribution]
NATIONAL CONSERVATIVE CAMPAIGN FUND


Buckley Jr., William F.
10/13/2003 $250.00
Stamford, CT 06902
National Review/Editor at Large -[earmarked contribution]
JOHN SWALLOW FOR CONGRESS INC.


Buckley, William
3/26/2004 $250.00
Stamford, CT 06902
National Review/Editor -[Contribution]
CHRISTOPHER SHAYS FOR CONGRESS COMMITTEE


Buckley, William
6/29/2004 $500.00
Stamford, CT 06902
National Review -[Contribution]
CHRISTOPHER SHAYS FOR CONGRESS COMMITTEE


BUCKLEY, WILLIAM F MR. JR.
12/31/2003 $2,500.00
Stamford, CT 06902
National Review/Editor At Large -[Contribution]
NATIONAL REPUBLICAN CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEE


Buckley, William F Mr. Jr.
3/24/2004 $500.00
New York, NY 10016
National Review Inc/Writer -[Contribution]
REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE


Buckley, William F. Jr. Mr.
10/17/2003 $250.00
Stamford, CT 06902
National Review/Editor at Large -[Contribution]
WESTMORELAND FOR CONGRESS

CAPANO, EDWARD A MR.
5/12/2004 $1,000.00
WESTFIELD, NJ 07090
NATIONAL REVIEW/PUBLISHER -[Contribution]
BUSH-CHENEY '04 INC


Rhodes, Thomas
5/27/2004 $5,000.00
New York, NY 10016
National Review/President -[earmarked intermediary out]
CLUB FOR GROWTH INC PAC


Rhodes, Thomas
6/5/2003 $2,000.00
New York, NY 10016
National Review/President -[earmarked intermediary out]
CLUB FOR GROWTH INC PAC


Rhodes, Thomas
5/27/2004 $2,000.00
New York, NY 10016
National Review/President -[earmarked intermediary out]
CLUB FOR GROWTH INC PAC


Rhodes, Thomas
2/6/2004 $2,000.00
New York, NY 10016
National Review/President -[earmarked intermediary out]
CLUB FOR GROWTH INC PAC


Rhodes, Thomas
2/6/2004 $2,000.00
New York, NY 10016
National Review/President -[earmarked intermediary out]
CLUB FOR GROWTH INC PAC


Rhodes, Thomas
3/15/2004 $1,000.00
New York, NY 10016
National Review/President -[earmarked intermediary out]
CLUB FOR GROWTH INC PAC


Rhodes, Thomas
5/19/2004 $2,000.00
New York, NY 10016
National Review/President -[earmarked intermediary out]
CLUB FOR GROWTH INC PAC


Rhodes, Thomas
5/27/2004 $2,000.00
New York, NY 10016
National Review/President -[earmarked intermediary out]
CLUB FOR GROWTH INC PAC


Rhodes, Thomas
3/12/2003 $2,000.00
New York, NY 10016
National Review/President -[earmarked intermediary out]
CLUB FOR GROWTH INC PAC


RHODES, THOMAS
6/13/2003 $2,000.00
NEW YORK, NY 10016
NATIONAL REVIEW -[Contribution]
PRO-GROWTH ACTION TEAM (PAT-PAC)


RHODES, THOMAS
3/24/2003 $2,000.00
NEW YORK, NY 10016
NATIONAL REVIEW -[Contribution]
PRO-GROWTH ACTION TEAM (PAT-PAC)


Rhodes, Thomas
5/19/2004 $5,000.00
New York, NY 10016
National Review/President -[Contribution]
CLUB FOR GROWTH INC PAC


Rhodes, Thomas
11/21/2003 $5,000.00
New York, NY 10016
National Review/President -[Contribution]
CLUB FOR GROWTH INC PAC

RHODES, THOMAS
6/8/2004 $2,000.00
NEW YORK, NY 10016
NATIONAL REVIEW -[Contribution]
COBURN FOR SENATE COMMITTEE

Rhodes, Thomas
5/27/2004 $2,000.00
New York, NY 10016
National Review/President -[earmarked intermediary out]
CLUB FOR GROWTH INC PAC


Rhodes, Thomas
5/27/2004 $2,000.00
New York, NY 10016
National Review/President -[earmarked intermediary out]
CLUB FOR GROWTH INC PAC


Rhodes, Thomas
6/15/2004 $2,000.00
New York, NY 10016
National Review/President -[earmarked intermediary out]
CLUB FOR GROWTH INC PAC

Rhodes, Thomas
5/19/2004 $2,000.00
New York, NY 10016
National Review/President -[earmarked intermediary out]
CLUB FOR GROWTH INC PAC

Rhodes, Thomas
11/28/2003 $2,000.00
New York, NY 10016
National Review/President -[Contribution]
JOHN SWALLOW FOR CONGRESS INC.

Rhodes, Thomas
3/17/2003 $2,000.00
New York, NY 10016
National Review/president -[Contribution]
CARL ISETT CAMPAIGN

RHODES, THOMAS
5/24/2004 $2,000.00
NEW YORK, NY 10016
NATIONAL REVIEW -[Contribution]
CAIN FOR US SENATE


Rhodes, Thomas
2/11/2004 $2,000.00
New York, NY 10016
National Review/President -[earmarked contribution]
RICO OLLER FOR CONGRESS

Rhodes, Thomas
5/25/2004 $2,000.00
New York, NY 10016
National Review/president -[Contribution]
FRIENDS OF CONNIE MACK

Rhodes, Thomas
2/9/2004 $2,000.00
New York, NY 10016
National Review/President -[earmarked contribution]
WOHLGEMUTH FOR CONGRESS

Rhodes, Thomas
3/22/2004 $1,000.00
New York, NY 10016
National Review/President -[earmarked contribution]
WOHLGEMUTH FOR CONGRESS


Rhodes, Thomas
3/12/2003 $2,000.00
New York, NY 10016
National Review/President -[earmarked intermediary out]
CLUB FOR GROWTH INC PAC


Rhodes, Thomas Mr.
11/28/2003 $2,000.00
New York, NY 10016
National Review/President -[Contribution]
WESTMORELAND FOR CONGRESS

- - -

The Village Voice
July 28, 2004

Dust Raking

by Richard Goldstein


There are no rules in American journalism. Each publication sets its own standards, and that's how the Founding Parents wanted it. Some places permit reporters or editors to donate to campaigns; others do not. (The Voice has no policy.) I've always regarded my writing as my contribution, a philosophy that has saved me some cash and embarrassment over the years. But it doesn't affect the way I think. I'd be a godless faggot leftie whether or not I forked over a few bucks to the Girlie Men—i.e., Democrats.

On the Internet, however, every caesura is silence = death. Lately blogland has been aghast at the shock-horror news that some journos have been giving money to candidates. It all began about four months ago, when Michael Petrelis, a militant AIDS activist whose work has sometimes been useful and sometimes not, began poring over records via an info site called tray.com. What he discovered has persuaded a number of media outfits to come clean about their protocols on political donating.

That's good. The more readers know about the internal operations of the press, the better. Thanks to Petrelis, The New York Times reiterated its no-giving rule and noted that several generous staffers were "highly contrite" when confronted with his findings. But they still have their jobs. The San Francisco Chronicle suspended its letters editor for making contributions in violation of the paper's policy (i.e., journalists must consult a top editor before they bestow).

Some of Petrelis's disclosures are surprising. I would have thought PBS staffers donate mostly to Democrats, but Petrelis reports that they give about equally to both parties. Still, what is this revelation really worth? It doesn't tell us anything about PBS's political and social bias. That network tilts liberal, not withstanding Tucker Carlson's new show (a wan attempt to channel William F. Buckley with better hair). I'm not surprised that National Public Radio employees overwhelmingly give to Democrats, but that doesn't change the fact that NPR favors conservative guests, as demonstrated by a recent Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting study. In other words, you can't make assumptions about an institution's politics from the spending of its staff.

"I don't want publishers saying their reporters can't make donations," Petrelis insists. Instead, he thinks newspapers and magazines should state their policies "on their websites and have a page that permanently gives you disclosure information. You can make up your own mind if there was any sort of political bias." Sounds reasonable—but what would you actually learn from that information? Is a reporter who gives to a candidate incapable of objectivity? Is a journalist who doesn't give incapable of bias?

The Nation would be the same font of progressive thinking even if its editor, Katrina vanden Heuvel, hadn't donated a lot of money to assorted Democrats, as Petrelis discovered. Nor would New Yorker executive editor Hendrik Hertzberg, another Petrelis target, be less liberal if he weren't a Kerry donor. (After all, Hertzberg was a speechwriter for Jimmy Carter in another life.) So where's the muck?

When she was editor of the Voice, Karen Durbin called this kind of journalism "dust raking." It treats any infraction, no matter how minor, as proof of big-time corruption. All readers remember is that someone they didn't like in the first place has done something wrong. It doesn't take much to convince most people that the press is a fen of liberal bias, and that may be a perception Petrelis means to reinforce. Most of the journos he's selected for scrutiny are liberals. Robert Novak, George Will, Cal Thomas, and the aforementioned Tucker C. are all among the prominent conservative writers he has yet to investigate. William F. Buckley has made "tons of donations," according to Petrelis, but this sleuth has yet to post the evidence. "I was primarily focused on daily newspapers," he says. That doesn't account for his obsession with vanden Heuvel and Hertzberg.

It's not surprising, since Petrelis is an out and proud Naderite. Like his hero, he seems to believe the worst enemy is the one closest to him. Blogland is full of people like that. In the wake of Petrelis's crusade, davidM at blogspot.com has discovered that an "astonishing 92 percent" of donations from Ivy League academics went to Kerry. Could've fooled me.

What next? Easter Parade Reporter Won't Accept Jesus?
Over the weekend in Boston Theresa Heinz Kerry rightfully told Colin McNickle, the editorial page editor of the conservative Pittsburgh Tribune Review, to "shove it" in response to questions he shouted at her.

On this morning's NBC Today Show, Katie Couric asked her if she regretted her remark to McNickle.

Her response: “No, I don't. And I think that I say what I believe. I'm plain-spoken. I really wanted him to back off, you know, back off. And he and reporters generally don't do this — they don't trap you and they don't misrepresent you when they talk to you. That's exactly what he did. I didn't know who he was and I heard him say two words that [were] not what I had said. I saw the potential of a misrepresentation and so I defended myself. Wouldn't you if someone attacked you like that?”

You go, girl!

The Heinz Kerry/McNickle feud led me to check Federal Election Commission records to see if McNickle has made any donations in the current election cycle, and he apparently hasn't.

However, his boss, mogul and funder of numerous right-wing causes and think tanks Richard Mellow Scaife, along with his wife, Margaret "Ritchie" Battle Scaife, have been extremely generous in their donations to the Bush/Cheny reelection campaign and conservative PAC.

A search on Google for evidence Mr. Scaife has disclosed his donations in his publication turned up nothing.

Two things about Mrs. Scaife's political giving were eyebrow raising.

First, she donated $2,000 last year to Sen. John Kerry's presidential campaign. (Gotta wonder what the hubby and journalists at the Tribune Review think of that donation.)

Second, she's also contributed to the Wish List, which is a pro-choice PAC.

Her donations to Kerry and the Wish List reveal some liberal tendencies on Mrs. Scaife's part, at least in the past two years.

If you want to know about the Scaife's giving at the federal level, visit http://www.tray.com/.
^^^

SCAIFE, R M
6/28/2003 $2,000.00
PITTSBURGH, PA 15219
TRIBUNE-REVIEW PUB CO -[Contribution]
PRO-GROWTH ACTION TEAM (PAT-PAC)

SCAIFE, R M
6/28/2003 $2,000.00
PITTSBURGH, PA 15219
TRIBUNE-REVIEW PUB CO -[Contribution]
PRO-GROWTH ACTION TEAM (PAT-PAC)

Scaife, Richard
12/22/2003 $75,000.00
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
Sarah Scaife Foundation -[Contribution to a 527 organization]
CLUB FOR GROWTH

Scaife, Richard
4/26/2004 $50,000.00
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
Sarah Scaife Foundation -[Contribution to a 527 organization]
CLUB FOR GROWTH

SCAIFE, RICHARD M. MR.
8/18/2003 $2,000.00
PITTSBURGH, PA 15219
TRIBUNE-REVIEW PUBLISHING COMPANY/P -[Contribution]
BUSH-CHENEY '04 INC

Scaife, Richard M. Mr.
7/21/2003 $25,000.00
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
Tribune - Review Publishing/Publish -[Contribution]
REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE

SCAIFE, RITCHIE
6/28/2003 $2,000.00
PITTSBURGH, PA 15232
TRIBUNE-REVIEW PUB CO -[Contribution]
PRO-GROWTH ACTION TEAM (PAT-PAC)

Scaife, Ritchie
4/25/2003 $2,000.00
Pittsburgh, PA 15232
Self-Employed/Homemaker -[Contribution]
JOHN KERRY FOR PRESIDENT INC

SCAIFE, RITCHIE
6/28/2003 $2,000.00
PITTSBURGH, PA 15232
TRIBUNE-REVIEW PUB CO -[Contribution]
PRO-GROWTH ACTION TEAM (PAT-PAC)

SCAIFE, RITCHIE MR.
8/13/2003 $2,000.00
PITTSBURGH, PA 15232
HOMEMAKER -[Contribution]
BUSH-CHENEY '04 INC

Scaife, Ritchie Mrs.
5/19/2004 $1,000.00
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
Housewife -[Contribution]
THE WISH LIST

Scaife, Ritchie Mrs.
6/20/2003 $1,000.00
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
Housewife -[Contribution]
THE WISH LIST

Scaife, Ritchie Mrs.
7/21/2003 $25,000.00
Pittsburgh, PA 15232
Homemaker -[Contribution]
REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE