In one of its more bizarre attacks against the political right, Thursday morning the left-wing Politico published a lead splash containing nearly 3500 words of smoke pretending to be breaking news of a scandal that involves conservative Tea Party groups that advertise openly on conservative talk radio.
What might help to explain the publication of such an article is that its co-writer, Ken Vogel, a frequent guest on MSNBC, is also a former employee of the George Soros-funded Center for Public Integrity. Like his one-time employer, Vogel has a long history of hostility towards conservatives.
Anyone who regularly listens to conservative talk radio will find their eyes glaze as they wonder where the beef is in a story pretending to expose advertising and sponsorship relationships that have been a public staple in talk radio for years. Vogel can’t even make the claim that there is something sinister hiding in plain sight (much less behind the scenes). After attempting to turn his word soup into scandal stew, Vogel is eventually forced to admit:
The hosts’ stances on candidates and issues usually align naturally with those of the groups. While their positioning occasionally seems to evolve with their sponsors, there is no evidence of hosts revising their views for paid advertising.
The piece, though, wasn’t written and published to present itself as serious news. It was written and published in a way to create a whiff of scandal where none exists.
Heritage sponsors Sean Hannity!
Americans for Prosperity sponsors Mark Levin!
FreedomWorks has a relationship with Glenn Beck!
Because of the demands of my job, I listen to very little conservative talk radio. During an errand or lunch break, maybe once a month, I might catch a segment here and there. But as little as I listen, even I know about these advertising/sponsor relationships. It goes way beyond disclosure. These relationships are part of the DNA of conservative talk radio and have been for years. The various hosts talk openly and even affectionately about these relationships.
Writing an expose’ on the relationship between conservative talk radio and Tea Party groups is like writing an expose on the relationship between water and wet.
Unfortunately, these kinds of glossy but hollow hit-jobs against conservatives is how Vogel has used the pages of Politico for years now.
Vogel never really left George Soros. Vogel merely poses as Politico’s objective, go-to reporter on the subject of money in politics. But if you look at the history of his work, Vogel has shown almost no interest in the financial relationships of the political Left, including Big Labor, giant communications companies like Comcast (which is hot news today, or should be), green energy, or of course his former-employer George Soros’s web of billions that touch on almost every aspect of the Left.
This isn’t a generalization. If you go to Vogel’s bio page on Politico, there is a list of the last ten stories published under his byline. He is 10 for 10 in targeting the right. Back in June of 2012, I wrote about this same phenomenon. Vogel’s Twitter feed is especially entertaining. It reads like outtakes from a slasher film called, “Night of the Koch Brothers 2.”
Vogel’s obsessions go beyond talk radio and the Koch brothers, and sometimes border on creepy. That is not a word I use lightly, but when he obviously feared the notion of a 2012 Sarah Palin presidential candidacy, Vogel became Politico’s chief enabler and champion for Palin’s most troubled and disturbed enemies.
Vogel, though, has long carried a bizarre hostility towards conservative talk radio. He’s even a little lazy about it. Today’s hit-piece is pretty much a rehash of a similar hit he published at Politico back in June of 2011. Which leads to the most fascinating irony in all of this…
After Vogel’s nothingburger ran in June ’11, talk radio’s Mark Levin published a response that included an insight into Politico that in hindsight is shockingly prescient in the wake of a payola advertising scandal that hit Politico late last year, and still hangs over the left-wing site.
Levin almost three years ago:
Politico self-identifies as a news operation. Yet, it is also a commerical operation. It has advertisers. Its advertisers pay for promotion on its website. The extent to which its advertisers directly influence its news operations and decisions is unknown to the general public. Kenneth Vogel, his colleagues, his bosses, and the investors behind Politico, earn their salaries and revenue based on the ability of Politico to attract advertisers, to compete against other online news outlets, and to compete against other forms of news reporting.
The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple 4 months ago:
A review of [Politico’s] “Playbook” archives shows that the special interests that pay for slots in the newsletter get adoring coverage elsewhere in the playing field of “Playbook.” The pattern is a bit difficult to suss out if you glance at “Playbook” each day for a shot of news and gossip. When searching for references to advertisers in “Playbook,” however, it is unmistakable. And its practitioner is expanding the franchise. Today, Allen disclosed in “Playbook” that he’ll be collaborating in the production of “Capital Playbook,” a newsletter stemming from Capital New York, the news site that Politico acquired earlier this year. Also today, the New York Times, as part of a reorganization of its Washington/political coverage, announced that it would be launching a “morning news tip sheet that sets up the Washington day for our readers.”
Wemple’s exhaustive reporting so unnerved Politico that after ignoring the allegations didn’t make the scandal go away, the outlet attempted to personally and repeatedly smear Wemple as “obsessive” and dishonest.
If Politico were as upfront as conservative talk radio about its relationships with its advertisers, it might have avoided accusations of an actual pay-for-payola scandal.
Moreover, Politico has yet to show any transparency or to even explain why many of its most lucrative advertisers have enjoyed such glowing news coverage.
If you are looking for an over-arching theme to what Politico and Vogel are up to, it is not hard to spot in a publication that carries the history detailed above or that has viciously and repeatedly attacked private citizens who dared speak out against Barack Obama.
Like the rest of the mainstream media, Politico is perfectly okay spending unlimited corporate dollars of its own to push a political agenda. Politico also has no problem with other left-wing outlets like MSNBC (where Politico “reporters” are a mainstay), The New York Times, CNN, or a George Soros spending untold billions to champion Obama, Democrats and the Left.
What Politico and Vogel oppose, and want outlawed and/or toxified out of existence, is anyone on Right doing the same — anyone from Rush Limbaugh, to the Tea Party, or just some everyday guy who made a few mistakes a half-decade ago and dared to not support Barack Obama.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC