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Welcome to SourceWatch!

The Center for Media and Democracy publishes this wiki, SourceWatch.

Please check out our sister sites, PRWatch and ALECexposed, to read our original reporting and see our award-winning investigations.

Lisa Graves, Executive Director

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Featured Work

After Subpoenas in Probe, WI GOP Sought to Quietly Change Law

by Brendan Fischer

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker
New documents indicate that just weeks after the first subpoenas were issued in Wisconsin's "John Doe" criminal campaign finance probe in October 2013, senate Republicans had begun working to change state law to legalize the activities under investigation.

Legislative Republicans surprised many in the state in March of 2014 when they tried to rush Senate Bill 654 through the legislature to explicitly carve-out an exception to the state's campaign finance statutes for so-called "issue ads," those thinly-veiled election messages that stop short of telling viewers to vote for or against a candidate.

The John Doe investigation was never mentioned during testimony on SB 654, even among the bill's opponents.Read the rest of this item here.


Miley Cyrus and the Employment Policies Institute

by Mary Bottari and Sean Hoey

Miley Twerked200px.jpg
On an almost daily basis, Miley Cyrus can be seen in grocery store lines on the cover of entertainment magazines and gossip rags. But now Cyrus is appearing in one place you might not have expected – on a billboard in Los Angeles denouncing higher wages.

The Employment Policies Institute (EPI), whose president is Richard Berman, the infamous PR flak dubbed "Dr. Evil" by 60 Minutes, reportedly purchased the image of Cyrus for a billboard attacking California's $9 minimum wage. Apparently, Berman's clients think that nine bucks an hour is just too much money for folks in Los Angeles, where the cost of living is skyrocketing.

The 72-year-old Berman may not know what twerking means, but he certainly knows how to exploit young people to advance his corporate agenda. Read the rest of this item here.


Grom Social: Cashing in on Kids

by Ruth Conniff and Nick Surgey

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Grom Social, a new social media site for kids, is bursting with cuteness and commercial appeal—from the freckled 13-year-old listed as its founder, Zach Marks, to the cheerful cartoon characters on the site.

During a lunch-time presentation at Freedom Fest 2014 in Las Vegas, Zach's dad Darren explained that Grom not only allows kids to connect with friends and learn valuable lessons, it promotes a wholesome anti-bullying message and is safe, since parents monitor every click. But, best of all, according to Darren Marks, Grom is poised to cash in big by marketing products to children and parents alike, and by transforming public-education funds into profits for investors.

Walmart is in talks with Grom about advertising, the senior Marks told prospective investors in Las Vegas this month. And, the site will soon be pushing products using the subtly persuasive art of product placement and its cast of adorable cartoon avatar characters. Launched eighteen months ago, Grom has grown to more than a half million users. It is "an advertiser's dream,” Darren Marks said in Las Vegas.

Read the rest of this item here.


The Koch Brothers: The Extremist Roots Run Deep

by Lisa Graves

Fred Koch
Some women and men spend their lives rebelling against their father or mother, but others follow in their footsteps or yearn for their approval. Some become friends.

A few spend millions to make their parents' vision a reality.

Charles and David Koch are among those few.

Raw ideas that were once at the fringes have been carved into 'mainstream' policy through their wealth and will.

According to the lore, a lawsuit against his company by big oil companies forced their dad, Fred Koch, into helping Stalin build refineries, fueling his anti-communist/anti-government views.

The truth is less tidy.

Read the rest of this item here.


Rightwing Advised to Invest in Water, Fracking in Drought Prompts Activism

by PR Watch staff

Dont frack water200px.jpg
As a historic drought grips the U.S. southwest, towns in Texas and California are taking action to make sure precious fresh water is not wasted and spoiled through fracking.

At the same time, some investment advisors are urging right-wingers at the annual libertarian "Freedom Fest" to view drought and skyrocketing water prices as a major investment opportunity. Read the rest of this item here.


McCutcheon’s Supreme Cynicism

by Brendan Fischer

Chief Justice John Roberts
One of the many outrageous aspects of the U.S. Supreme Court's McCutcheon v. FEC decision is how blatantly it served the interests of the very wealthiest. After all, the plaintiff, Shaun McCutcheon, was complaining that his free speech rights were being infringed because he was prohibited from spending more than $123,200 in aggregate direct contributions to politicians.

But who in America can afford to spend that much? Read the rest of this item here.


Recent Articles from PRWatch.org

Like His Dad, Charles Koch Was a Bircher (New Documents)

by Lisa Graves

July 8, as announced on Amy Goodman's DemocracyNow!, the Progressive Inc. and the Center for Media and Democracy are publishing new information and analysis documenting that billionaire oil industrialist, Charles Koch, was an active member of the controversial right-wing John Birch Society during its active campaigns against the civil rights movement.

Many commentators have noted that the father of the controversial Koch Brothers, Fred Koch, was a leader of the John Birch Society from its founding in 1958 until his death in 1967. But, in fact, Charles Koch followed his father's footsteps into the John Birch Society for years in Wichita, Kansas, a hub city for the organization in that decade of tremendous societal unrest as civil rights activists challenged racial segregation.

Charles Koch was not simply a rank and file member of the John Birch Society in name only who paid nominal dues. He purchased and held a "lifetime membership" until he resigned in 1968. Read the rest of this item here.


ALEC Politicians Caught Plagiarizing ALEC Bill, Drafting Error and All

by Brendan Fischer

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has vetoed a bill that included a drafting error copied-and-pasted from American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) model legislation, and criticized ALEC members for having "simply parroted ... the ALEC model act without alteration."

"While some may believe that such an error is 'close enough' for a model act, it cannot be allowed to become the law of this State," Nixon, a Democrat, wrote in his veto message. "Particularly in an area of the law that is the subject of ongoing litigation, a glaring defect such as this cannot be ignored."

Missouri Senate Bill 508, sponsored by ALEC member Sen. Mike Parsons, was modeled after the ALEC Navigator Background Check Act. Read the rest of this item here.


Koch-Tied Youth Group Weighs In on Senate Races

by Mary Bottari

Generation Opportunity (Gen Opp), the "millennial" group behind the "creepy Uncle Sam" ads which attempted to scare America’s youth away from health care coverage, is weighing in on the fight for control of the U.S. Senate in a big way. The "nonpartisan" group, which has received almost all of its funding from two conduits tied to the billionaire Koch brothers, has dropped nearly $2.3 million on TV ads since mid-June. The ads, attacking Senators Kay Hagan (D-NC), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and Mark Udall (D-CO), indicate that the front group is going to spend a lot of money in the fight for control of the Senate.


For now, the group has shifted off its almost exclusive focus on the horrors of affordable health care to an old fashioned bashing of "tax and spend" democrats.

Read the rest of this item here.


Scott Walker Says the Dark Money Probe Is 'Over,' but He's Wrong

by Brendan Fischer

"This is a case that has been resolved, not one but two judges have said is over," Walker claimed on Fox News the day after the bombshell release of documents alleging that the Wisconsin governor is at the center of a "criminal scheme" to illegally coordinate with dark money nonprofits. "In fact two judges, in both state and federal courts, have ruled that no laws were broken," he asserted the day of the release.

The case is not over, and his claims are not correct.

Read the rest of this item here.


Bradley Foundation Bankrolled Push Back on John Doe Criminal Probe

by Brendan Fischer

The campaign against Wisconsin’s “John Doe” criminal probe is being led by groups bankrolled by the Milwaukee-based Bradley Foundation, according to a new analysis by the Center for Media and Democracy/PRwatch.org.

The Bradley Foundation and its directors have given nearly $18 million to groups that are now connected to individuals involved in the John Doe investigation and the campaign against it. That high-profile probe is examining possible campaign finance violations during the 2011 and 2012 recall elections as Wisconsin Club for Growth and other nonprofit "dark money" groups spent tens of millions trying to protect the seats of Scott Walker and Republican legislators.

Read the rest of this item here.


Feeding Hawai'i

by PR Watch Admin

For Chris Kobayashi and her husband, Dimi Rivera, it all started with Japanese cucumbers. "In 1997 we said, 'OK, let's grow Japanese cucumbers, but let's grow it organically,'" Kobayashi tells me as we walk around her farm in Hanalei Bay on Kaua'i's North Shore. "You know, because they are crispy, crunchy, and yummy and you can eat the skin and everything."

The couple knew that it would be a tough vegetable to grow. Cucumbers (and melons) are prone to extensive damage from fruit flies in Hawai'i. So they covered every single cucumber that came up with plastic bags. "We'd charge a dollar for each at the farmers' market," says Kobayshi. "We set up a sign on that said 'Japanese Cucumbers, $1.' We offered samples and people got hooked because it's so crunchy. Then they started asking, do you have any kale? I was like, 'Kale? What is that?' So that's how we started growing other kinds of veggies. It was just all an organic thing that happened. None of this was planned." Today, Kobayashi's family's 10-acre Waioli Farm grows produce using organic practices. Read the rest of this item here.


Popular SourceWatch Articles

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Editors' Pick

Follow the Money!
New Wiki Resource

KochExposed.org200px.jpg
The Center for Media and Democracy, publisher of ALEC Exposed, brings you this unique wiki resource on the billionaire industrialists and the power and influence of the Koch cadre and Koch cash.

Read about Koch Funding Vehicles:

Vist Koch Exposed for more.

The Kochs' Anti-Civil Rights Roots: New Docs Expose Charles Koch's Ties to John Birch Society

Watch the Video!

The Progressive magazine and Center for Media and Democracy have released new documents that show billionaire oil industrialist Charles Koch was an active member of the controversial right-wing John Birch Society during its campaigns against the civil rights movement in the 1960s. Charles Koch was following in the footsteps of his father, Fred Koch, a leader of the John Birch Society from its founding. Watch Lisa Graves talk about her new article, "The Koch Cartel: Their Reach, Their Reactionary Agenda and Their Record." Read the article here.


Take Action!

Tell Congress: Reject the NRA’s Wage-Crushing Agenda!

Waitress Owner-NRA-MarkFiore200px.jpg
The National Restaurant Association, the “Other NRA,” represents giant fast food chains like McDonald’s, Darden, and Taco Bell. NRA is a member of ALEC and a leader in the effort to stop minimum wage increases and paid sick leave ordinances.

Click here to tell Congress you can't stomach
what the NRA is dishing out!


Featured Video

The National Restaurant Association: Hard to Stomach

McDonald's, Olive Garden and Burger King are just some of the corporations ruining our economy with poverty wages and business practices that make employees go hungry and make customers sick. They belong to one of the most powerful lobbies in the country: the National Restaurant Association.


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Praise for SourceWatch!

Here's what they're saying about SourceWatch:


"The folks at the Center for Media and Democracy have done incredible work documenting fake grassroots ("astroturf") groups. Here, they're helping protect the rights of all Americans to exercise their right to vote. They are completely non-partisan. These guys are the real deal."
Craig Newmark, Craig's List

"A truly impressive project based on cutting edge web technology."
David Korten, author of When Corporations Rule the World and The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community.

"The troublemakers at the Center for Media and Democracy, for example, point to dozens of examples of "greenwashing," which they defined as the "unjustified appropriation of environmental virtue by a company, an industry, a government or even a non-government organization to sell a product, a policy" or rehabilitate an image. In the center's view, many enterprises labeled green don't deserve the name.
—Jack Shafer, "Green Is the New Yellow: On the excesses of 'green' journalism," Slate.

"As a journalist frequently on the receiving end of various PR campaigns, some of them based on disinformation, others front groups for undisclosed interests, [CMD's SourceWatch] is an invaluable resource."
Michael Pollan, author of The Botany of Desire

"Thanks for all your help. There's no way I could have done my piece on big PR and global warming without CMD [the Center for Media and Democracy] and your fabulous websites."
—Zoe Cormier, journalist, Canada

"The dearth of information on the [U.S.] government [lobbying] disclosure forms about the other business-backed coalitions comes in stark contrast to the data about them culled from media reports, websites, press releases and Internal Revenue Service documents and posted by SourceWatch, a website that tracks advocacy groups."

—Jeanne Cummings, 'New disclosure reports lack clarity," Politico.
Disclaimer: SourceWatch is part of the Center for Media and Democracy—email the publisher of SourceWatch, CMD's Executive Director, Lisa Graves, via lisa AT prwatch.org. You can also contact our Editor, Friday Thorn, via friday_thorn AT prwatch.org.

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