. . . with Jim Geraghty
May 16, 2014
Guess Who's Setting Up a Spin Operation Right Outside Gowdy's Committee?
Let's start the Friday off right by exposing something that a bunch of progressives don't want you to know. At dinner last night, Larry O'Connor of WMAL mentioned his latest interview with the affable but indisputably ruthless Lanny Davis:
Davis will be heading up something he calls "The Truth Squad," and will position himself right outside the committee room where Rep. Trey Gowdy (R., S.C.) will be conducting his investigations into the events of the Sept 11th Benghazi attacks.
Davis joined me and my co-host, Brian Wilson on our morning radio show in Washington DC on WMAL Thursday morning.
Okay, that's not surprising, a Democratic spin doctor sets up shop to "fact check" the findings and questioning of Gowdy's special committee. But a guy like Davis -- who's represented the Clinton White House, some unsavory foreign clients, and Redskins owner Daniel Snyder -- doesn't come cheap. So who's putting all this together?
Davis said his partner in the effort is an advocacy group called "Correct The Record", which is funded by the American Bridge 21st Century PAC.
"They are funded by thousands of grassroots people all over the country," said Davis. "It's a great organization, because all they do is put facts out, and that's really all I do."
Who is American Bridge 21st Century PAC? Not quite the common definition of "a great organization" of "grassroots people" that only "puts facts out." Here's FactCheck.org's summary of the organization:
American Bridge 21st Century is a liberal super PAC that conducts opposition research to aid Democratic candidates and organizations.
The group was founded in November 2010 by David Brock, a conservative-turned-liberal activist. After making a name for himself as a self-described "right-wing hit man," Brock reinvented himself as a liberal crusader. In 2004, Brock founded Media Matters, a liberal website that monitors the media for "conservative misinformation."
Rodell Mollineau, a former staffer of Sen. Harry Reid, is the group's president. Its chairwoman is Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, a former lieutenant governor of Maryland and the eldest child of Robert F. Kennedy.
As a super PAC, American Bridge can accept unlimited donations and is largely funded by major Democratic donors and labor unions. Billionaire hedge fund manager George Soros, a well-known supporter of liberal causes, was the group's largest donor for the 2012 cycle, contributing $1 million.
So . . . David Brock, a Harry Reid staffer, and a big pile of money from George Soros are getting together to make sure Lanny Davis is standing outside Trey Gowdy's panel. This is the same David Brock who spoke at the Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock in March.
This is, in short, a branch of the Clinton Empire:
The "super PAC" Mr. Brock founded, American Bridge, has tapped into a rich network of Clinton supporters. Among them, according to federal disclosures, are George Soros; Steve Bing; Stephen M. Silberstein, a Bay Area entrepreneur; and Susie Tompkins Buell, a friend of Mrs. Clinton's based in San Francisco.
Last year, Mr. Clinton delivered the keynote address at a fund-raiser in New York for Mr. Brock's biggest donors. Mr. Brock thanked the former president and Mrs. Clinton for "giving me the gift of forgiveness," said one person who attended the fund-raiser, which was closed to the news media, but could not discuss the event for attribution.
Two lessons from this. First, never believe Lanny Davis when he tells you he's working for "a great organization" "funded by thousands of grassroots people all over the country" "because all they do is put facts out."
Second, the Clinton team must be worried about Gowdy's special committee, because if they were certain that the panel wasn't going to find anything, or that it was inevitably going to be seen as a silly, time-wasting partisan circus, they wouldn't be putting resources into this spin operation right outside Gowdy's committee room.
Disastrous Numbers for the New York Times: The Salary Numbers Leaked
Yeah, the New York Times is in for a world of trouble. Did they pay recently-dismissed executive editor Jill Abramson less than her male predecessors? The New Yorker's Ken Auletta obtains some salary numbers that say . . . yeah, pretty much:
On Thursday, though, Sulzberger said, in a memo to the staff, that this was "misinformation":
It is simply not true that Jill's compensation was significantly less than her predecessors. Her pay is comparable to that of earlier executive editors. In fact, in 2013, her last full year in the role, her total compensation package was more than 10% higher than that of her predecessor, Bill Keller, in his last full year as Executive Editor, which was 2010. It was also higher than his total compensation in any previous year.
Let's look at some numbers I've been given: As executive editor, Abramson's starting salary in 2011 was $475,000, compared to Keller's salary that year, $559,000. Her salary was raised to $503,000, and -- only after she protested -- was raised again to $525,000. She learned that her salary as managing editor, $398,000, was less than that of the male managing editor for news operations, John Geddes. She also learned that her salary as Washington bureau chief, from 2000 to 2003, was a hundred thousand dollars less than that of her predecessor in that position, Phil Taubman. (Murphy would say only that Abramson's compensation was "broadly comparable" to that of Taubman and Geddes.)
[Insert from Jim: Everyone in America just said, "I'm vastly underpaid."]
Murphy cautioned that one shouldn't look at salary but, rather, at total compensation, which includes, she said, any bonuses, stock grants, and other long-term incentives. This distinction appears to be the basis of Sulzberger's comment that Abramson was not earning "significantly less." But it is hard to know how to parse this without more numbers from the Times.
So she started out getting 84 percent of what Keller made; that was raised to 89 percent and eventually 93 percent.
Hey, is 77 cents "significantly less" than a dollar?
Fred Savage, best remembered at the kid from The Wonder Years, did an office-based sitcom for two years called Working. I remember one commercial depicting some co-worker yelling at Savage's character, "you just accidentally e-mailed the salary figures for every employee at this company to everyone who works here!" Savage looks deeply concerned, and then in the background we see two other suit-clad men suddenly break into a fistfight.
Ramesh sent us to this thought from John Hayward…
After enjoying a frothy mug of schadenfreude over the pickle the New York Times finds itself in, we might reflect that this is really a story about cloistered liberals growing up, and learning how their ideology is a poor fit for the real world, where complex situations cannot easily be reduced to cartoons about patriarchy, sexism, and racism. Can you blame Abramson for wanting to be paid as much as her male predecessor? Was it utterly unreasonable for the top brass at the New York Times to offer valid reasons why he was paid more, or to say that they needed to control payroll costs in a time of financial crisis? Was it out of line for Abramson's superiors to decide her abrasive manner was alienating the people beneath her, or that her plans for the newsroom were inconsistent with theirs?
Perhaps we see cloistered liberals growing up so rarely that we're not quite sure how to react. But then he adds:
The fun part will be when the folks at the Times, and other liberal writers currently stepping forward to defend them, forget how complicated these decisions are and giddily assault some private-sector operation outside of the sainted media-government axis for violating liberal dogma. It'll probably happen before the last personal items have been cleared from Jill Abramson's office.
No, that's not the fun part. That's the really infuriating part, because this is the big "teachable moment" and our well-founded cynicism is telling us that those cloistered liberals aren't actually going to grow up, and they won't learn anything from the teachable moment.
A wise veteran of presidential campaigns asked me last night, "What fourth-generation large company is run well? Hard to think of many . . ."
Should We Still Pay Attention to the Unemployment Rate?
Nicholas Eberstadt explains why the unemployment rate doesn't really measure what we think it measured anymore: "In that former America, there was basically no alternative to paid work for able-bodied men; no alternative economically, and no alternative socially. But this is no longer true today. Thanks at least partly to the growth of government-support programs, voluntary joblessness -- or something close to that -- is, increasingly, a viable lifestyle option."
ADDENDA: Sometimes, it just feels like the Universe https://us-mg205.mail.yahoo.com/neo/b/message?sMid=0&fid=Inbox&sort=date&order=down&startMid=0&filterBy=&.rand=349097685&midIndex=0&mid=2_0_0_1_446459_AGJpimIAABExU3YX6gAAANA%2FPKI&fromId=