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March 09, 2004

THE BLOGOSPHERE KNEW THIS, but it's nice to see the mainstream press noting that the "furor" over Bush's 9/11 ads was entirely manufactured:

We have no doubt that the use of the images is appropriate - given that the president's leadership in the wake of 9/11, and his conduct of the War on Terror, are under drumbeat assault by John Kerry and the Democrats.

But now it turns out that this whole furor is driven by a tiny group that's motivated by a far-left agenda and a festering hatred of the president - and has some quite dubious financial ties.

Leading the rhetorical charge has been an outfit called September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows - which, the group admits, has only a few dozen members and represents relatives of no more than 1 percent of the 9/11 victims.

More to the point, the group was formed specifically to oppose the entire War on Terror: Not just the campaign against Saddam Hussein, but also the toppling of the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Indeed, the group's leaders traveled to Afghanistan, drawing a detestable moral equivalence between the 9/11 attacks and U.S. bombing of the Taliban and opposing "violent responses to terrorism." . . .

And back in January 2003, the group said had it had gotten a "verbal commitment" to the fund proposal from the junior senator from Massachusetts - John F. Kerry.

Little surprise there - because Peaceful Tomorrows' parent group, the San Francisco-based Tides Foundation, has received millions from foundations controlled by Kerry's heiress wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry.

Tides gets much of its funds from philanthropists like Mrs. Kerry and billionaire George Soros - who has made defeating President Bush his top personal priority.

As Richard Berman, director of the Center for Consumer Freedom, told Congress in 2002: "The Tides Foundation distributes other foundations' money, while shielding the identity of the actual donors."

Call it charitable money-laundering.

Could this be a campaign-finance law violation? I don't know enough to tell, but it's certainly an end-run, legal or otherwise. But it's yet another reason to wonder why the finances of nonprofits don't get more scrutiny -- and why the press is so ready to take these sorts of groups at face value, instead of looking into where their money comes from.

And, once again, it looks as if another "peace" group isn't really for peace, but simply on the other side. And, apparently, on Kerry's side as well.

That should bother him, and at least some of his supporters. Shouldn't it?

UPDATE: Well, here's someone who's looking into the question of whether Theresa Heinz is covertly aiding the Kerry campaign.

Meanwhile a pseudonymous reader says that the Tides accusations are bunk:

To summarize--The Heinz Endowments, of which Teresa is chair (there's also a board that approves grants), gives money for local, mostly small-bore initiatives
here in SWPA, sometimes through the Tides Center (PA).

What Tides does is process Form 990, handle HR payroll and benefits, and provide a vehicle for grant applications and monies. It's simply a way for the
local foundation community to avoid setting up new 501(c)(3)'s merely for ad hoc projects, that they will then feel obligated to support.

That's not what the article quoted above says, but OK. (And here's a link to a generally favorable article by Dennis Roddy on the Tides Foundation and Teresa Heinz.)

Whether or not there's financial chicanery, however, doesn't account for the many other anti-Bush connections of the "spokespeople" criticizing the ads, which were ignored in mainstream press reports, but noticed by bloggers with Google. (More of that here, here, and here.)

Don't journalists, like, find out stuff about people for a living? Or have they outsourced that to the blogosphere?

ANOTHER UPDATE: Jay Rosen writes that the "find out stuff" job description is woefully out of date.

More here.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Still more on the press's abject failure on this subject.

MORE: Hmm. It does sound suspicious when you put it this way:

It also turns out that those anti-Bush "9/11 families" number only about 120 out of 3,000 victim families--and that they're all part of an organized anti-Bush, anti-war organization, "September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows." And it further turns out that this group, just coincidentally, also happens to be a project of an organization that gets major funding from the Heinz foundations.

Hmm. Call me crazy, but if these were Scaife-funded folks denouncing Kerry I think the media would note the connection. And Jay Caruso emails: "There's no way these reporters didn't know who these people were. Yet they deliberately left out this information, knowing it would cause controversy."

STILL MORE: Reader Erik Fortune emails:

Notice the last line of the Associated Press article about the retired
national guardsman who reported seeing President Bush on base in Alabama
(Link):

"Calhoun has not made any donations to Bush this election season or during the 2000 season, according to campaign finance records."

See? The (associated) press _does_ go look for conflicts of interest ... when the person in question supports Bush.

I'll give them credit for reporting that they didn't find anything in this case, but the fact that they looked is telling. If the press were half as, um, diligent wrt the 9-11 families, the whole incident would have had a hugely different spin.

Yes, it would have.

MORE: Still more on this subject here, from the Arizona Republic website. And Tom Perry has a long and link-filled post on the subject.