Another Perspective on Heartland

September 11th, 2012 · No Comments · energy policy, environment, journalism

By Arthur Alpert

My colleague Denise Tessier’s Sept. 6 post under the headline “Journal Gives Discredited Heartland a Podium” is more evidence she’s a superior journalist, a superior critic of journalism and an unbelievably kind human.

She concludes that the newspaper “allowed itself to be used” when it ran a letter to the editor from the “discredited” Heartland Institute.

Since I am less kind, here’s a very different perspective.

Heartland is a cog in a huge machine, a collaboration of corporate interests and wealthy individuals that originated as a response to criticism of American “free enterprise;” see Lewis Powell’s memorandum of August 23, 1971 to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Today that collaboration is on the offensive, seeking to free Wall Street and major businesses of legal and ethical restraints and to impose market values on every aspect of our national life.

Concretely, its domestic agenda aims to weaken or destroy environmental protections and organized labor. Privatize public schooling. Make health care, already an industrial commodity, more so by eliminating residual humane and professional values. Discourage voting by lower class citizens and the young.

And if this agenda extinguishes what remains of American democracy in favor of oligarchy, well, heck, that’s just collateral damage.

Having read the Journal closely for years now, I further conclude that management not only spares the collaborative reportorial scrutiny but promotes it in the “news” and opinion pages both, while tolerating minimal dissent.

Because the Journal shares the collaborative’s ambitions.

Before you judge that I’m overstating the case, let’s look at Heartland.

On Google’s first page, reports:

“The Heartland Institute is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) as of 2010-2011. [2] It is a member of ALEC’s Telecommunications and Information Technology Task Force, [3] Education Task Force, [4] Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force Financial Services Subcommittee [5] and Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force. [6] James Taylor, managing editor of the Heartland publication Environment & Climate News, spoke at the Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force meeting at the 2011 ALEC Annual Meeting. [6] Heartland was also an Exhibitor at ALEC’s 2011 Annual Meeting. [7] Heartland has also functioned as a publisher and promoter of ALEC’s model legislation. [8] ”

(FYI, you may educate yourself on Heartland at its own site,, and others including Wikipedia and

It matters that Heartland and the American Legislative Exchange Council cooperate. ALEC, you recall, is the Koch Brothers-supported outfit dedicated to passing corporate-friendly bills in state legislatures, including our own, despite which (as I’ve pointed out here often) the Journal’s editors find it unworthy of attention.

In fact, if you depend upon the Journal for news (scary concept!), you wouldn’t know that six more companies cut ties to ALEC last month – General Electric, Western Union, Sprint Nextel, Symantec, Reckitt Benckiser Group and Entergy.

A total of 38 enterprises have defected since the launch of an anti-ALEC campaign.

And even as the Journal attempts to throw an invisibility cloak over the billionaire Koch brothers, ALEC and countless other lobbies and “think tanks” advocating the agenda of those atop the hierarchy, the newspaper publishes a constant stream of essays from them.

You cannot open the morning paper without encountering the wisdom of institutes and foundations like CATO, Manhattan, Heritage and Heartland, all Koch beneficiaries, or our very own Rio Grande Foundation, born of CATO. (The Journal has written about RGF.)

Heck, even as I write (Saturday, Sept. 8), a lengthy Op Ed on Medicare by Jeffrey Miron, a CATO “senior fellow” dominates the Op Ed page.

Now, with that context, let’s reconsider those Heartland Institute letters and Denise’s comment:

“The Journal should show a little more skepticism when letters from the Heartland Institute arrive. In running this one, it allowed itself to be used.”

I’m sorry but asking our daily to be skeptical of Heartland is, well, as I said up top, Denise is very kind.

The evidence strongly suggests Journal management used Heartland – or collaborated with it – to promote a common agenda.

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