What Fresh Hell Is This?

September 7, 2015

Salena Zito And The Trib Are Spinning PA's Senatorial Race. It's Embarrassing (For Them) and Sad (For Everyone Else)

I thought that, for all of it's conservative misinformation on its editorial page, the Trib at least promised to have it's news division delivering straight news.

But I guess when it comes to Republican political candidates and Salena Zito, that's not exactly true.

And the sad part is that this has happened before - almost exactly two years ago.

Then it was about Mitt Romney.  This time, it's subtle but no less disappointing.  Zito's reporting on the ongoing political debate between Senator Pat Toomey and one of his democratic challengers, Joe Sestak over the former's record on Veterans' issues.  Let's see how Zito shades the argument ever so slightly in the direction of the candidate who (surprise surprise surprise!) just happens to be the republican candidate.

Let's start here, with the commercial:
Last month, Concerned Veterans for America aired a $1.5 million digital and television ad campaign praising Toomey. The group considers him “a leader in the fight to hold VA bureaucrats accountable for failing Pennsylvania veterans,” CEO Pete Hegseth said when announcing the ads, which ran through Aug. 25.

“There should not be such a thing as at-risk veterans. Sen. Pat Toomey is committed to making sure every veteran is provided with the health care and benefits they deserve,” Navy veteran Barb Doyne of Malvern, Chester County, said in the ad.

The nonprofit CVA, based in Arlington, Va., and funded in part by billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch, on its website says veterans and their families “have the potential to constitute a powerful force if they make their voices heard in the policy process.”
Interesting thing to note how Zito describes the connections between the Koch brothers and the CVA.  She writes simply that the "non-profit" CVA is funded "in part" by the brothers.  Funny thing, CVA CEO Pete Hegseth is quoted as saying that the Koch network "virtually created" the CVA and The Washington Post characterizes CVA's level of  Koch funding this way:
The group was funded almost entirely by TC4 in 2012.
 Propublica lets us know what TC4 is:
Fundraising by the libertarian billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch supports a tangle of nonprofits, sometimes referred to as the Kochtopus, all aimed at advancing conservative causes. Two groups, the Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce and TC4 Trust, handed out almost $264 million from mid-2011 to October 2012 to 30 other nonprofits.
So CVA was created by the Koch network and almost entirely funded by the Koch trust and yet Selena Zito hides it all behind an ambiguous "in part."

Gee, I wonder why.  And the CVA?  It may be non-profit but it's hardly non-partisan.  The Nation has more on Hegseth's speech:
Nevertheless, the Hegseth speech is an interesting window into how the Koch network operates: funding an ostensible advocacy group that is, in fact, a relentless political operation—and one that can, with the right situation to exploit, do everything from take out political attack ads to help craft legislation.
None of which is even hinted at in Zito's quietly appreciative prose.

But there's more to that ad, isn't there?  Yes, there is.  In her next paragraph Zito dutifully regifts the  quotation in the ad from Navy Veteran Barb Doyne.  Ever wonder who Barb Doyne is?

If you happen to take a look at the "Veteran's for Toomey" facebook page, you'll see that she's listed as a "Captain" of the Host Committee for a fundraiser for the Senator back in 2014.

Something else Salena Zito didn't tell you.

Then there's this.  Compare how Zito describes the CVA with what she does here:
VoteVets.org, which advocates to elect Democratic veterans to Congress, backed Sestak then and now. The Portland, Ore.-based group — which calls itself “the voice of America's 21st century patriots” — gets money from hedge fund manager and environmentalist Tom Steyer, as well as Al Gore's Alliance for Climate Protection and the United Steelworkers of America union, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
So many funding details!  Isn't it interesting how she found all these interesting the details on the side of the democrat but somehow, I guess, just couldn't find the time to do the exact same thing for the republican?

Oh, and she made a mistake (yea, we'll call it that) about Votevets.  Take a look at this from their own "candidates" page:
The mission of VoteVets.org Political Action Committee is to elect Veterans to public office; hold public officials accountable for their words and actions that impact America’s 21st century service members, Veterans, and their families; and fully support our men and women in uniform. Though progressive, VoteVets PAC has endorsed both Democrats and Republicans. [Emphasis added.]
I'd say that that's a big mistake, wouldn't you?

But finally there's this.  After going through Sestak's arguments against Toomey, she finds another voice to settle the matter:
Joe Eastman, 64, a retired Navy lieutenant colonel in Philadelphia, said he respects Sestak's service to the country but finds his allegations that Toomey abandoned veterans in Washington unacceptable.

“His accusations are completely unfounded,” said Eastman, who spends time helping homeless veterans. “Anytime I have a problem or identified a growing concern, Senator Toomey's office has responded immediately.”
Since that's the only way she describes Eastman - as a "retired Navy lieutenant colonel" - you'd think he was unaffiliated with either candidate, right?

Wrong.  Take a look at this page and what it says about Joe Eastman:
He has served on the boards of the Philadelphia Senior Center, Nationalities Service Center, the Philadelphia Homeless Veterans Coalition which is an advisory body to the Mayor’s Office of Supportive Housing. He presently serves on the board of directors of The Veterans Group, Thank-A-Vet, and is a member of U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey’s Military Academy Advisory Board advising the Senator on appointments to our nation’s service academies and serves as a veterans advisor to several Pennsylvania elected officials.
Don't you think that it would've been nice for that little bit of information to have been included in a "non-partisan" summing up the discussion?

I guess this is what we have to look forward to as the campaign unfolds and Selena Zito "reports" on it - more slanted coverage by the Tribune-Review news division.

Sad, embarrassing, and sad.


Ol' Froth said...

The Navy has lieutenant colonels?

Dayvoe said...

Y'know, I completely missed that!

I missed it and I apologize for not pointing out Selena Zito's (and/or The Trib's) error. She wrote it and I quoted her and was simply not acquainted enough with military culture to know that there are no Lt Colonels in the US Navy. (Had I noticed, I would have pointed it out.)

On the one hand, it doesn't change my overall thesis (that she's shading her reporting in favor of the Republicans) and so it's really not that important. But on the other, to those members of the armed services who have achieved rank, it IS an important fact and so simple respect dictates that we get details like that right.

I should have caught her error and I didn't. I meant no disrespect and I apologize.

Dayvoe said...

Let's see how long it takes The Trib to correct the error.

Ol' Froth said...

I suspect he may be a Marine Lt Col. IIRC< the Marines technically were once a subset of the Navy, but I don't think that distinction applies anymore. I could be wrong though.

Dayvoe said...


I thought that might be the case, too. But if you look at this P-G article from 2013


you'll see this:

His letter was prompted by concerns of constituents including Philadelphian Joe Eastman, a retired Navy lieutenant who is now director of the Broad Street Ministry, which helps homeless veterans.

Navy lieutenant.

Heir to the Throne said...

Though progressive, VoteVets PAC has endorsed both Democrats and Republicans.
HA HA I googled every name in the candidates list.
All Democrats. Who are these Republicans endorsed by VoteVets? Maybe Alan West?

So many funding details! Isn't it interesting how she found all these interesting the details on the side of the democrat but somehow, I guess, just couldn't find the time to do the exact same thing for the republican?
Like Dayvoe parroting Media Matters/ American Bridge funding research.

I can not find Joe Eastman's rank. I suspect it is Lieutenant Commander. And the author typoed it.