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ALEC-bashing NPR reporter fails to disclose ties to lead anti-ALEC group

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By Michelle Malkin  •  April 23, 2012 10:54 PM

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Let me quote from the National Public Radio ethics handbook:

First, on “impartiality:”

Impartiality

Our experiences and perspectives are valuable assets to our journalism. We enjoy the right to robust personal lives, yet we accept some unique professional obligations and limitations. Because our words and actions can damage the public’s opinion of NPR, we comport ourselves in ways that honor our professional impartiality. We have opinions, like all people. But the public deserves factual reporting and informed analysis without our opinions influencing what they hear or see. So we strive to report and produce stories that transcend our biases and treat all views fairly. We aggressively challenge our own perspectives and pursue a diverse range of others, aiming always to present the truth as completely as we can tell it.

Impartiality in our personal lives
Impartiality as citizens and public figures
Impartiality in our journalism

Next, on “transparency:”

Transparency

To inspire confidence in our journalism, it is critical that we give the public the tools to evaluate our work. We reveal as much as we practically can about how we discover and verify the facts we present. We strive to make our decision-making process clear to the public, especially when we find ourselves wrestling with tough choices. We disclose any relationships, whether with partners or funders, that might appear to influence our coverage.

Revealing our process
Anonymous sources

And finally, on “accountability:”

Accountability

We take full responsibility for our work, so we must always be ready and willing to answer for it. Just as careful attention to our sources makes a story stronger, careful listening to our public makes our journalism better. So we welcome questions or criticisms from our stakeholders and to the best of our ability, we respond. Mistakes are inevitable. When we make them, we correct them forthrightly, reflect on what happened, and learn from them.

Corrections
Interacting with the public
Accountability online
Legal accountability

Now, let me quote from BigGovernment.com editor Mike Flynn’s piece on NPR’s failure to demonstrate impartiality and transparency in its piece bashing ALEC (the conservative legislative association I told you about earlier this month that is being targeted by progressive shakedown artists because it espouses “the Jeffersonian principles of free markets, limited government, federalism, and individual liberty.”)

This weekend, NPR aimed its taxpayer-subsidized guns at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a relatively unknown membership association of state legislators. ALEC, a non-profit 501 (c)3 founded in the 1970s, gives the left heart palpitations by promoting general conservative policies like lower taxes and deregulation. For its efforts, ALEC has recently come under a coordinated assault by many leftist organizations, especially Common Cause and 9-11 truther Van Jones’ Color of Change. NPR’s report purportedly raised “questions” over ALEC’s tax status and quoted extensively from Common Cause. What listeners didn’t learn, however, was that NPR’s reporter, Peter Overby formerly worked for Common Cause.

That knowledge certainly would have given listeners some valuable context for statements like this:

That’s the argument that the good-government group Common Cause made when it asked the IRS to investigate ALEC last summer.

I’m certain Overby has fond memories of his work at Common Cause, but to simply label them as a “good government group” doesn’t paint an exactly full picture. As its campaigns against the Koch brothers and ALEC show, Common Cause is an increasingly hyper-partisan activist organization working to silence conservative voices. It recently even partnered with the Occupy movement in South Carolina to protest and attempt to shut down a Republican organization. Common Cause doesn’t seem to have any campaigns concerned with undue influence by hedge-fund billionaires, labor unions or crony capitalist corporations. For NPR, “good government” is clearly in the eye of the beholder.

…And, yes, in full disclosure, I worked for ALEC from 1997-2004. See, Mr. Overby, that wasn’t hard at all.

Overby’s official title at NPR is “Power, Money & Influence correspondent at National Public Radio.

His previous job: “Past senior editor at Common Cause Magazine.” Where he no doubt described his previous employer the same, partial way he does while working for his government-backed present employer.

Is the NPR ombudsman satisfied with Overby’s disclosure (while he failed to disclose his ties in his radio report, the information is on his website bio.)

Ask him or Tweet him. You can quote the “accountability” section back to him if she ignores you.

Your tax dollars at work.

***

No response yet from NPR. But here’s more of Overby’s habitual non-disclosure from Newsbusters’s Matthew Balan from earlier this month:

On Thursday’s Morning Edition, NPR’s Peter Overby slanted towards a left-wing coalition targeting the conservative group ALEC. Overby trumpeted how Coke and Pepsi succumbed to pressure from the “campaign to put a spotlight on companies that sell products to a public that might object to hardline conservative policies, such as ‘stand your ground’ laws or requirements that voters show a photo I.D.”

The correspondent featured representatives from two of the groups in the coalition- ColorOfChange and Common Cause- and labeled them as a “civil rights group” and a “good government group” respectively. He also made only one passing reference to their political ideology- that they were part of “progressive groups and shareholder activists.”

Co-host Renee Montagne noted in her introduction to Overby’s report that “two of America’s best-known companies, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, have dropped their memberships in a low-profile conservative organization called ALEC- the American Legislative Exchange Council. That group promotes business-friendly legislation. It’s also been pushing more controversial measures, such as voter identification laws and that ‘stand your ground’ law, the one linked, we’ve just heard, to Trayvon Martin’s slaying.”

The NPR journalist, who once worked for Common Cause (and didn’t disclose this detail during his report), first noted how Coke ended its involvement with ALEC after “a civil rights group, ColorOfChange.org, launched an online drive calling on Coca-Cola to stop underwriting the ALEC agenda on voter I.D.” He continued with his “hardline conservative policies” phrase, and played a clip from ColorOfChange’s director, Rashad Robinson…

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