Blood Money: How SEIU and Media Matters Stole Justice from Kenneth Gladney


I. Whoever Controls “The Narrative,” Controls the National Political Conversation

When it comes to most of today’s mainstream media we are no longer talking about an entity that reports truth or facts. Everything about the MSM is now about The Narrative. Even though they’re supposedly made up of separate and competing newsrooms, there’s a very good reason why the MSM as a whole is usually covering, emphasizing and amplifying the exact same stories. This is what The Narrative is and its usefulness to the MSM is how it pushes particular stories to the forefront of public awareness in order to further a political agenda — an agenda that 90% of the time is meant to aid the Left and damage the Right.

Another part of The Narrative is what the MSM chooses NOT to cover; what they willfully ignore.

You can see The Narrative at work as I write this. The same MSM that assured us that when it came to Barack Obama, the church he attended for two decades didn’t matter, is now obsessing over a church Rep. Michele Bachman’s hasn’t attended in over a year. Here you have two separate (and wildly hypocritical) narratives at work: one meant to protect a Democratic presidential candidate, the other meant to damage a GOP presidential candidate.

On the other hand, you can also see The Narrative working by what’s NOT being covered today. The same MSM that obsessed over the Valerie Plame non-story is currently all but ignoring Obama’s brewing “Fast and Furious” gunrunning scandal –mainly because it’s exactly the kind of scandal that can swamp a presidency into paralyzing, under-40 approval ratings.

II. How Alternative Media Created the MSM’s Need for a Media Matters for America

Prior to the rise of the Internet, the Left almost completely owned the narrative. The simple truth is that before Al Gore’s invention was fully realized, other than a few esteemed columnists, the media had no serious ideological competition from the Right. The rise of the Internet, however, changed all of that as citizen journalists — many of whom are motivated by the MSM’s liberal biases — found this new tool invaluable when it came to both debunking the MSM’s latest lie (the most famous being RatherGate) or reporting on stories the MSM chose to ignore for ideological reasons.

If you remember the presidential election of 2004, you remember a news media determined to unseat George W. Bush by any lie necessary (again, see: Gate, Rather). You also remember that in the form of Senator John Kerry, both the MSM and Democrats (but I repeat myself) assumed they had found the antidote to an incumbent wartime president in the form of a Democratic candidate who had been injured while spending a few months in harm’s way in Vietnam. The playbook was all set: Sen. Kerry was going to ride a wave of media-fomented Bush hatred and his “war hero” record all the way to White House.

Kenneth Gladney

Unfortunately for the Left and their MSM allies, an independent group called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth went a long way towards undermining those plans with a series of ads showcasing men who had served with Kerry and disputed many of his claims of heroism. Because they’re biased and dishonest, the MSM all-but ignored this story. But it became such a sensation with the alternative media (blogs, talk radio) that the MSM was eventually and grudgingly forced to chime in, which only compounded the damage done to Kerry.

The problem for the MSM here was that Media Matters for America (which launched in May of 2004) wasn’t fully operational at the time. The tax-exempt, George Soros-funded left-wing attack machine wasn’t ready to muddy the waters of truth that would give the MSM what they needed to ignore a story harmful to Kerry and their agenda.

But that would soon change.

(For more on this, read Liberty Chick’s fascinating history of Media Matters here.)

What Media Matters is designed to do (or adapted itself to do) is to (through any dishonest means necessary) discredit any and all stories bubbling online before they reach the MSM and do damage to the Left’s desired narrative. If you watch the insidious relationship between Media Matters and the MSM, it becomes obvious that their unspoken agreement is that another Swiftboat Veterans story must never be allowed to survive long enough to where the MSM will have no choice but to cover it. Therefore, Media Matters’ primary function is not to uncover truths or reveal facts, their mission is solely to engage in tactics that undermine and discredit stories inconvenient to the Left — and their approach is a simple one. By directing buzz-words like “hoax” at these undesired stories with a side order of calculated ridicule and mockery, Media Matters gives the MSM the excuse necessary to look the other way .

Without a doubt these are very effective tactics. And nowhere would the media, White House and a very powerful union require Media Matters’ dishonest talents more than in the aftermath of August 6, 2009.


I. From White House Lips to SEIU Ears (and Fists)

Kenneth Gladney is a five-foot, nine-inch, 140 pound black man who says he was savagely beaten — and has three eye-witnesses to back him up — by Elston McGowan and Perry Molens; two six-foot, four-inch; 250 pound members of the increasingly notorious Service Employees International Union (SEIU). The timeline and context are both critical, so let’s go back to early August of 2009.

Barack Obama was then only eight months into his presidency and the hot and divisive topic in America was the new President’s health-care plan. Throughout the country, everyday Americans were making news on YouTube and by extension the MSM and alternative media, as they erupted in protest at town hall meetings held throughout the country by Congressional Democrats. In the heart of a terrible recession and crippling deficits, these Americans (and tens of millions like them) couldn’t understand why a president would attempt to jam another bloated behemoth of a government program through Congress when he was elected to create jobs and fix a devastated economy.

It was becoming obvious that a wave of public opinion had turned against ObamaCare, and as they looked out at a sea of angry faces in what were usually rote town hall meetings, Democrats worried (correctly, as it turned out) about their midterm re-election chances. Suddenly the votes to pass a young president’s centerpiece of legislation looked to be in serious jeopardy even though the President’s party held a majority in the Congress and a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.

Ever the community organizer, Obama wasn’t going to take this lying down and on the afternoon of August 6th, 2009, at a meeting with Senate Democrats, the White House sent the following message loud and clear: [emphasis mine]

Top White House aides gave Senate Democrats a recess battle plan on Thursday, arming the lawmakers with tips for avoiding disastrous town hall meetings[.] …

They showed video clips of the confrontational town halls that have dominated the media coverage, and told senators to do more prep work than usual for their public meetings by making sure their own supporters turn out[.]

“If you get hit, we will punch back twice as hard,” Messina said, according to an official who attended the meeting.

This bears repeating: “If you get hit, we will punch back twice as hard.”

From here it’s nowhere near a stretch to say that SEIU, one of President’s Obama’s biggest and most cherished supporters, had mobilized for action. That very same night in St. Louis, dressed in their identifiable purple shirts, SEIU was a noticeable presence at a town hall meeting hosted by Congressman Russ Carnahan, a Missouri Democrat.

Also attending was Kenneth Gladney, a vendor selling patriotic flags and ribbons. After the rally, Gladney was confronted by “a group of people in purple shirts” and things got ugly quick when one of the SEIU members (a black man) shouted at Gladney (also a black man), “What kind of a nigger are you?”

What followed was caught in part on video:

[youtube zTXBOgPCh9w nolink]


II. Like Something Out of the Old South, Media Matters Targets a Black Victim

To recap: The same day the White House launched their “punch back twice as hard” message in retaliation against everyday Americans speaking out at town halls, two hulking union thugs in t-shirts brandishing the logo of one of the White House’s biggest supporters are accused of savagely beating a black man selling patriotic, Tea Party-oriented merchandise.

To say this could’ve turned into a disaster for both President Obama and the future of his increasingly unpopular, yet-to-be passed health-care program is quite the understatement.

In a world with an honest media. the narrative dots of this story would’ve been ridiculously easy to connect to the White House’s dangerous rhetoric. But we don’t live in a world with an honest media and therefore, as you can imagine, no one in the leftist MSM wanted anything to do with this story — much less to turn this into the kind of oxygen-sucking narrative it would’ve surely become under a Republican administration.

The day after the incident, August 7th, the story of the Gladney beating was already gaining traction in the conservative blogosphere. Sensing a public relations catastrophe for Obama should the MSM be forced to cover the story, Media Matters came to the media’s rescue at 10 a.m. the following morning, with this [my emphasis]:

The conservative blogosphere is absolutely atwitter with news that an activist was attacked by union thugs at a town hall meeting this week in St. Louis. It’s the best the right-wing can do to deflect blame for unleashing mini-mobs on town hall forums: They did it! …

Go watch the YouTube video. (Or, the “shocking video,” as Power Line hypes it.) The first thing you notice when the camera starts rolling is a union member already sprawled out on the ground with somebody standing over him. … Then yes, Gladney is pulled to the ground by somebody wearing a union shirt. (At the :06 mark.) But instead of Gladney being beaten and punched, as his attorney describes, and instead of union “thugs” standing over him and threatening him, Gladney bounces right back on his feet in approximately two seconds and the scuffle ends.

That was the savage “beating” the conservative blogosphere can’t stop talking about?

The only real mystery from the incident is why Tea Party member Gladney, who’s seen up-close after the brief encounter walking around and talking to people and who appears to be injury-free, then decided to go to the hospital to treat injuries to his “knee, back, elbow, shoulder and face.” All that from a two-second fall to the pavement?

What we have here is a breathtaking lie of omission meant to shape the narrative in a way that intentionally muddies the waters as Media Matters uses a wholly dishonest sleight-of-hand in order to create the doubt (and therefore the cover) necessary for the MSM to justify all-but writing the story off as nothing more than right-wing hysteria.

Look again closely at Media Matters’ words:

The first thing you notice when the camera starts rolling is a union member already sprawled out on the ground with somebody standing over him. … Then yes, Gladney is pulled to the ground by somebody wearing a union shirt.

Obviously, Media Matters has no choice to but to state that Gladney was pulled to the ground by the SEIU thug. In the video, that’s as clear as the nose on your face. It’s Media Matters’ opening sentence that’s wholly dishonest and that spread like a virus in order to discredit Gladney’s version of events — as well as the story told by the three witnesses who backed Gladney. While it’s true that when the YouTube video begins a SEIU member is seen on the ground, what Media Matters doesn’t tell you is that Gladney is also on the ground.

Watch the very beginning of the video again closely:

[youtube zTXBOgPCh9w nolink]


Media Matters is playing look-over-here! and counting on the fact that it’s much easier for you to see the SEIU member on the ground than it is Gladney. The potential problem for the Left is that if people notice Gladney, they’re bound to ask inconvenient questions, such as… Why is he on the ground? How did he get there?

Instead of asking this question, Media Matters uses a calculated tone of ridicule and disbelief backed by a video that didn’t capture how the altercation started to make us believe that it was the diminutive Gladney who started a physical fight with two hulking men who are each a hundred pounds heavier and over a half-foot taller than he is. They want us to believe that a vendor was looking to be a disruptive bully, not two thugs wearing shirts emblazoned with the logo of a chief supporter of a White House that just hours earlier had promised to “punch back twice as hard.”

And so in one MMFA story after another, this sleight of hand, this lie of omission is cemented into fact:

August 13, 2009:

We wrote about Gladney over the weekend and how the YouTube clip of his “beating” actually shows him being pulled to ground for approximately two seconds before he jumped back up to his feet,

September 22, 2009:

The problem was when you watched the clip, viewers saw Gladney get pulled to the ground before he popped right back up less than two seconds later. Viewers saw Gladney walking around after the incident without an obvious scratch on his body, and in no apparent pain.

Straight through to this month:

Indeed, the glaring problem with the Gladney tale was that rather than being savagely beaten and kicked, which is how right-wing bloggers breathlessly relayed the “brutal” tale, if you watched the videotape, Gladney appeared unharmed from the one or two seconds he was on the ground. He quickly sprang to his feet and was seen calmly discussing the aftermath of the scuffle with a police officer.

After reading almost two-dozen Media Matters’ articles on the Gladney beating, not once did I see an acknowledgement that when the YouTube video begins Gladney is also on the ground.

But no one can call Media Matters a whore for the Left.

They did get paid.


I. SEIU “Donates” $50,000 to Media Matters

On August 9, just a few days after the beating, Andrew Breitbart wrote a Washington Times column titled, “I Am Kenneth Gladney.” Later that month Lou Dobbs picked up the story and devoted a CNN segment to it and then in September Michael Barone mentioned the beating in an Examiner piece. Each one of these articles was met with instant and calculated ridicule from Media Matters but it was apparently becoming obvious to SEIU that the story wasn’t going away and that it was now bubbling up from the Internet and into more mainstream outlets like CNN.

Whatever SEIU’s motivations, the result was a $50,000 “donation” to Media Matters made during the crucial months of October and November of 2009:

As Liberty Chick points out after a thorough, good faith search, this is a one-time donation (made in three payments), not a regular contribution in an ongoing relationship:

In reviewing other LM-2s for several previous years, this appears at least to be the first time that SEIU has donated to Media Matters, and there does not seem to have been another donation recorded since these.

It’s not hard to connect the dots as to what services SEIU was buying. And by any reasonable estimation, this was probably the best $50k SEIU ever spent. Over the next 18 or so months, Media Matters would produce over 30 stories covering or referencing the Gladney case, each of them written in a way to dishonestly dismiss and discredit the entire episode — a tactic that would continue for almost two yewars.

When Breitbart and Big Government went to war with the St. Louis District Attorney’s office due to their foot-dragging when it came to filing formal charges, Media Matters went to war with Breitbart and Big Government. When Glenn Beck followed Big Government’s lead, Media Matters went after Beck. Anyone who went anywhere near the story was ridiculed and excoriated as a right-wing crazy. Finally, under pressure mostly from conservative bloggers, 90 days after the incident charges were finally filed.

II. Media Matters Memory-Holes Three Witnesses Who Back Gladney’s Version of Events

Thanks to Media Matters, the casual observer of this story would never know that three eye-witnesses who back up Gladney’s version of events even exist. Moreover, all three witnesses were willing to testify in open court. Furthermore, the actual police report (which you can download here) also backs up the claim that “several people” said “McCowan and Molens had just assaulted a black male[.]”

Below is the meat of the police report, which resulted in McCowan and Molens being arrested for assault:

We don’t know much about one eye-witness who did testify for the prosecution, but Pastor Harris Himes (who was asked not to testify for reasons he doesn’t understand) and his wife Sandra Himes (who did testify) were both willing to back Gladney’s version of events under threat of perjury. Pastor Himes went so far as to tell the story at Big Government:

Then, as Sandra and I walked back to our car, she stopped to look at some buttons and flags, “Don’t Tread on Me,” etc., being sold/given away by a nice, young black man (38–as it turns out–seems young to us–Ken Gladney was his name), when–just as she was walking away–a large, black man in a purple t-shirt confronted Gladney. Sandra heard him call him a, “son of a nigger,” a phrase she had never heard before. The black man (I heard later he was supposed to be a minister) slapped Gladney’s hand holding the yellow flags. Then he punched Gladney in the side of his face, knocking him down. Another large, purple t-shirt white guy attacked him from behind. The fight continued across the sidewalk, out into the street, with Sandra and me and several others trying to break it up. We got Gladney on his feet, and the white thug jerked him down to the ground–again from the back.

Three witnesses willing to go on the record backing the story of a black man who says he was called a “nigger” and savagely beaten by a white and black man. Do you think that if the exact same situation had occurred, but instead of the attackers being SEIU representatives they were Tea Party members, these witnesses might be household names today — might have been on every network television news magazine from “60 Minutes” on down?

III. Media Matters Memory-Holes the Assault on Tea Partier Kelly Owens

On the same night and at the same event where Kenneth Gladney was beaten, a Tea Party activist named Kelly Owens was punched in the face by Cheryl Johner, an Organizing for America (OFA) volunteer.

For those of you unfamiliar with OFA, just look up It will take you right there.

This incident was not only caught on video…

[youtube -Efbt7YbK50 nolink]


…it was also witnessed by a police officer:

The Democrat appointed prosecutor eventually (like she did McCowan and Molens) downgraded the charges against Johner to an ordinance violation. But in a single evening and at the same event hours after the White House sent out their “punch back twice as hard” message — two violent, bullying, incidents perpetrated by three people representing high-profile organizations that support this same White House occurred.

And yet somehow the same MSM that tried to hang the Right with Tucson just a year later, didn’t find any of this newsworthy.

IV. Media Matters Muddies Waters Surrounding Gladney’s Injuries

Another dishonest element Media Matters floated again and again is that Gladney must be lying about his injuries because he appears unharmed in the video directly after the incident. With their calculated dismissive, mocking, matter-of-fact tone, Media Matters sounds pretty convincing. But if you stop and think for a second, what they’re saying makes little to no sense when looked at in the proper context. Many of us have been physically injured in a fight or, say, a car accident, only to discover much later — after the adrenaline dies down — that we were hurt more than we originally thought. This isn’t the exception, it’s the norm.

Kenneth Gladney

Media Matters, however, doesn’t even bother to posit that obvious theory. Again and again, the “look over here!” card is played as Media Matters points to Gladney walking around in the video as further proof that this whole episode is just a silly hoax ginned up by the right.

Focusing all the injury talk on the video as opposed to Gladney’s actual medical records was just another act of sleight of hand. A perfect example:

The only real mystery from the incident is why Tea Party member Gladney, who’s seen up-close after the brief encounter walking around and talking to people and who appears to be injury-free, then decided to go to the hospital to treat injuries to his “knee, back, elbow, shoulder and face.” All that from a two-second fall to the pavement?

“All that from a two-second fall to the pavement?” is a calculated question meant to help you forget that the video tape only captured some of the incident and (a fact that can’t be repeated enough) that Gladney is seen on the ground when the video begins.

Obviously medical records are kept private, but, a site that covers Missouri politics and followed the Gladney story in detail, had this to say about Gladney’s medical condition based on his emergency room treatment the night of the beating and a later trip to his family doctor:

[T]he emergency room records were enough to justify assault charges when viewed in context with the police report. Seeing as Media Matters, Crooks and Liars, Wonkette, and others denied the very existence of an attack, it would seem strange to focus on hospital records that were used in part to justify assault charges. Note the left denies any injuries to Gladney, and yet the hospital records include a trip to the pharmacy. Hospitals aren’t keen on giving out painkillers to people with no sign of pain. Or perhaps we should ask Gladney’s wife and family, who had to look at the bruises on his ribs and upper torso for the next week?

Media Matters, and therefore their willing accomplices in the MSM, showed little to no interest in Gladney’s actual post-beating medical condition. And when they weren’t demanding we all focus on Gladney’s adrenaline-fueled condition directly after the incident, Media Matters was also creating nothing-controversies out of the issues surrounding Gladney’s medical records (as detailed and refuted here) in order to distract from the very point made by above.

V. Media Matters Covers up Gladney Attackers Being on SEIU Clock

McCowan claimed his shoulder was injured during the same physical altercation he wants us to be believe was instigated by the much smaller Gladney — and yet it’s very revealing that McCowan didn’t file assault charges against Gladney.

Moreover, in the over two dozen articles covering and/or referencing Kenneth Gladney, something else Media Matters all but ignored were the inconvenient facts that connect SEIU directly to the incident. From what we’ve learned courtesy of McCowan’s shoulder, it’s safe to conclude that both McCowan and Molens weren’t just wearing purple shirts in support of their union that night, they were on the SEIU clock at the time of the beating:

1. Both men had their legal fees paid by SEIU.

2. McCowan’s workman’s compensation claims for his shoulder injury were eventually approved.

When you’re injured, the first question any insurance company asks is whether or not it happened while you were at work. If so, they won’t pay your bills because the liability falls to your employer through workman’s compensation.

Furthermore, workman’s comp surely isn’t going to pay unless you were on the job at the time of the injuries.


I. For $50,000, SEIU Received the Media Matters Platinum Package

The bottom line is that nothing coming from Media Matters was designed to clarify or discover the truth about what happened the night a black man was called a “nigger” and savagely beaten. Everything coming out of Media Matters was designed to keep our eye off the following facts:

1. Gladney is on the ground when the YouTube video begins. Why? How did he get there?

2. Gladney had three eye-witnesses who backed up his version of events.

3. Gladney’s medical record were sufficient to result in assault charges being filed against his attackers.

4. Though he claimed the incident was instigated by Gladney and that his shoulder was injured as a result, McCowan did not file assault charges against Gladney.

When you think of the old segregated South where a black man could get no justice as those in power coalesced around “one of their own,” this is exactly what happened to Kenneth Gladney…

…Right down to a disinterested prosecutor and the jury trial itself.

II. McCowan and Molens Found Not-Guilty

By the time SEIU “donated” $50,000 to Media Matters, assault charges had already been filed against McCowan and Molens. At this point they could only hope the Democrat-appointed prosecutor would drop the charges (they were lowered) or that a jury wouldn’t find them guilty.

Because of prosecutorial foot-dragging it took nearly two years for the case to go to trial — which is more than enough time for Media Matters, along with their willing accomplices on the Left and in the MSM, to penetrate any potential St. Louis jury pool with their dishonest and misleading narratives.

At the end of the day, SEIU paid for one of the best defense attorneys available in St. Louis and Gladney was stuck with a rookie prosecutor. The result was that with three witnesses who backed Gladney’s version of events, a video tape of the incident, medical records, and the absurd story that they were accosted by a man 110 pounds smaller than them — a jury still found McCowan and Molens not-guilty.

One man simply wasn’t going to be allowed justice against a corrupted, moneyed power in possession of political connections all the way up to the White House — not with Media Matters and the MSM doing everything in their power to manipulate the narrative. In their eyes, Kenneth Gladney was nothing more than a sacrifice, a piece of collateral damage; the village they burned in order to save the village.


I. Day After Beating the White House Tells SEIU, “Keep doing what you’re doing.”

The afternoon after the Gladney beating, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius held a conference call with SEIU, urging them to show up at these town hall meetings. Michelle Malkin reports on exactly how this disturbing call concluded:

Sebelius thanked an SEIU member who showed up at the Tampa Bay melee and urged more to get involved. “Keep doing what you’re doing.”

SEIU heavy Dennis Rivera then took over, taking calls from scripted SEIU members who read statements (one of which was painfully, barely coherent).

Rivera closed by railing against the “radical fringe” of “right-wingers” and urged his “Purple Army” to fight “terrorist tactics.”

At this point you just have to ask yourself which is worse. A White House acting like a tinpot dictatorship or the media’s wholesale cover up.

II. Media Matters’ Disturbing Indifference to Violence

Eric Boehlert operates as something known as a Media Matters’ “Senior Fellow,” but he’s really their primary enforcer, both on the site and on Twitter — very much the face of the organization who wrote many of the Gladney articles referenced here.

Twice now he’s expressed a shocking indifference to violence against his political enemies on the Right. Once in reference to a Fox News reporter and again, and most disturbingly, with respect to the beating of Kenneth Gladney.

In his victory lap after the not-guilty verdict came in, Boehlert framed the event this way:

The altercation itself was regrettable and was over almost before it began: the type of heated scuffle that happens countless times everyday in this crowded country, and everyday people move on with their lives.

I don’t know what “crowded country” Boehlert and his ideological counterparts want us to live in, but what happened the night of August 6, 2009 was more than a scuffle, it was a crime. But what happened afterwards, thanks mainly to Media Matters and the rest of the corrupt MSM — was an abomination.

III: SEIU’s Website Response to the Gladney Incident Refers to Tea Partiers as “Teabaggers”

In response to the growing controversy, SEIU released a “Reality Check” on their website to “debunk” what they referred to as all the “false claims” surrounding the Gladney beating. Most of the spin, including the lies of omission about Gladney being on the ground and his three eye-witnesses, all looks to be inspired by the work of Media Matters.

Most telling is this:

The arrogance of the politically connected knows no bounds.


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