The ALEC Story: It's Everywhere but the Journal

April 24th, 2012 · No Comments · Fact Check, tax policy, Uncategorized

By Arthur Alpert

I don’t think the Albuquerque Journal can shock me any more.

Last time I was stunned was when the editors simply ignored the President’s so-called populist speech at Osawatomie, Kansas, the site of Teddy Roosevelt’s historic “New Nationalism” oration in 1910.

I’ll admit it – the arrogance shook me.

Lately, however, Journal management has retreated to routine journalistic malfeasance. No surprises.

Mind you, that’s not to term the Journal’s resistance to journalism unimpressive. No, the editors remain diligent in refusing to publish what doesn’t fit the editorial agenda.

Case in point – the perfect censorship of stories on ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council.

(To be perfectly accurate, the editors have permitted mention of ALEC in syndicated columns, but they’ve allowed no ALEC story to besmirch the news pages.)

And there have been scads of them over the last several weeks. ALEC has been news everywhere, first on small, opinionated web sites, then in major newspapers and, finally, on those papers’ front pages.

While the Journal looked away.

Here are a few of the developments the Journal’s editors found not newsworthy:

• Linked to the Travyon Martin case, ALEC dropped the task force that promoted “Stand Your Ground” laws as well as Voter ID measures.

(Also, the National Center for Public Policy Research promised to pick up the cause of voter suppression. What’s NCPPR? Jack Abramoff was once a board member.)

• The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation withdrew financial support for ALEC.

• Coca-Cola quit and thereafter, so did McDonalds, Wendy’s, Mars, Arizona Public Service, Reed Elsevier, American Traffic Solutions, BlueCross Blue Shield, Intuit and Yum! Brands (Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut).

• PepsiCo and Kraft Foods announced they wouldn’t renew their expiring memberships.

So, disturbed in particular by the Trayvon Martin connection, the Santa Fe New Mexican blasted ALEC in an April 11 editorial.

The Washington Post highlighted the broad opposition to ALEC in a front-page account April 12 headlined, “Trayvon Martin shooting spurs protests against companies with ties to legislative group.”

Wall Street Journal reporters covered the story regularly and the WSJ editorial page – separate from the news operation – editorialized April 18 in defense of ALEC.

And just this past Sunday, the N.Y. Times’ Mike McIntire explored another angle in a front-page investigation under the rubric, “Conservative Nonprofit Acts as a Stealth Business Lobbyist”.

Frank Perdue’s old slogan comes to mind. “It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken.” It takes a determined editor to resist the journalistic instinct, I mean.

At a real newspaper, the editor would not only run one or more national stories, but would have reporters jumping all over the obvious local angle.

I can hear it now:

“Hey, guys, ALEC bought dinner for the legislators back in January, remember? So who went? How many are ALEC members? How many from each party?”

“Oh, and did any of ALEC’s “model legislation” get introduced? If yes, which and what happened? C’mon, we’ve got some reporting to do, right?”

Only a determined editor could resist that kind of fun, the joy of journalism – an editor determined to further an editorial agenda.

And that, as I was saying, is impressive if not, in the case of the Albuquerque Journal, shocking.

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