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Left-wing group’s grant will “educate” MSM on Obamacare law

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By Michelle Malkin  •  June 29, 2010 06:14 PM

It’s whistleblower week. This morning, I wrote about SEIU workers coming forward to protest their open-borders bosses’ anti-Arizona electioneering. This afternoon, a journalist writes in to expose a cozy propaganda arrangement between the self-identified “progressive” Commonwealth Fund and the Society of American Business Editors and Writers:

I’m a reporter at a major newspaper, and quite conservative compared to the great majority of my colleagues…Anyway, here’s something that just turned up in my e-mail and has got me really annoyed:

SABEW awarded $15,000 grant for health-care reform education programs

PHOENIX – The Commonwealth Fund has awarded a $15,000 grant to the Society of American Business Editors and Writers to conduct a series of education programs focusing on aspects of the nation’s new health-care reform law.

The programs will be onsite and online, said Warren Watson, executive director of SABEW, the nation’s largest and oldest organization of business and financial journalists.
It is the third such grant Commonwealth has awarded to SABEW, which has conducted seven workshops on the business of health care with Commonwealth Fund support since 2007, the most recent in April 2010.

SABEW will conduct webinars and two workshops at its national conferences under the grant. The first education session will be held in New York Oct. 1 at SABEW’s annual fall conference, to be held at City University of New York. The second onsite workshop will be at SABEW’s annual spring conference at Southern Methodist University in Dallas April 7-9, 2011.

“We’re pleased and thankful that our partnership with The Commonwealth Fund will continue with this grant,” said Watson. “Journalists we reach will better understand the complexities of the health-care law.”

With offices in New York City and Washington, D.C., The Commonwealth Fund is a private foundation that aims to promote a high performing health care system that achieves better access, improved quality, and greater efficiency, particularly for society’s most vulnerable, including low-income people, the uninsured, minority Americans, young children, and elderly adults.

The Fund carries out this mandate by supporting independent research on health care issues and making grants to improve health care practice and policy. An international program in health policy is designed to stimulate innovative policies and practices in the United States and other industrialized countries.

For more information, contact SABEW executive director Warren Watson at watson@sabew.org or call 1-602-496-5186

I may be wrong, but this sounds like a program to teach reporters to write supportive stories about the health care reform law. It’s not my beat, so I can’t really get into it, but I wonder if any members of the blogosphere would want to do a bit of research on this one…

I did a quick scan of the Commonwealth Fund website, and it’s pretty solidly pro-Obamacare. See, for instance, http://www.commonwealthfund.org/Content/Blog/Who-Is-Helped-by-Health-Reform.aspx

Nothing at all wrong with that. But should an organization of news reporters and editors accept a grant from this group to “educate” journalists on this topic? This seems to me exactly the sort of logrolling and message-shaping that an objective media ought to regard with deep suspicion. Imagine if SABEW got a $15,000 grant from the Heritage Foundation or the Cato Institute to educate reporters on how awful the new law is. I think we’d hear lots of criticism of that.

Nope, this just doesn’t seem right to me. Anybody else?

The tipster is right to question the Commonwealth Fund’s ability to provide objective information about Obamacare to journalists. The head of the fund, Karen Davis, is a Jimmy Carter leftover and self-identified “progressive” economist who has long peddled single payer. Her 2009 annual report proclaims:

The Commonwealth Fund marshaled its resources this year to produce timely and rigorous work that helped lay the groundwork for the historic Affordable Care Act, signed by President Obama in March 2010.

Perhaps one of the journalists participating in these indoctrination sessions can enlighten the public on the people, funding, and ideology driving the Commonwealth Fund’s media “education” campaign.

And perhaps the editors of newspapers who send their reporters to the sessions should see fit to disclose at the beginning of every health care story whether the Commonwealth Fund underwrote their “education.”

Sunlight is the best disinfectant, right?

***

No surprise to you, I’m sure: Several George Soros staffers and fellows have worked at the Commonwealth Fund and vice versa — see, for example, here and here.

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