WSJ's Defense Of ALEC Lacks Disclosure That News Corp. Is A Member

Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

WSJ LogoA Wall Street Journal editorial defended the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) over its role in the creation of pro-gun Stand Your Ground laws, without noting that the Journal's parent company, News Corp., has reportedly been a member of ALEC since 2010.

The August 7 Journal editorial claimed efforts to fight "stand your ground" legislation were part of a "campaign to suppress political speech," and attacked Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) for questioning whether supporters of ALEC -- a conservative organization backed by corporate giants that tailors model bills for state legislatures -- also supported the controversial legislation:

The campaign to suppress political speech has found its next tactic, using outrage over Trayvon Martin's killing in Florida as a hammer. On Wednesday, Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin sent a letter to corporate and nonprofit supporters of the American Legislative Exchange Council, asking them to disclose their positions on stand-your-ground legislation that ALEC supported in Florida in 2005.

ALEC is a group of state legislators from around the country that promotes center-right reform ideas, mostly on economic issues. It has had success spreading those ideas, which has made it a target of liberal activists trying to cut off its funding.

Enter Mr. Durbin. "Although ALEC does not maintain a public list of corporate members or donors, other public documents indicate that your company funded ALEC at some point during the period between ALEC's adoption of model 'stand your ground' legislation in 2005 and the present day," Mr. Durbin writes in the letter to groups and companies that have donated to ALEC.

Since support for ALEC doesn't "necessarily mean" that it endorses every position taken by the organization, Mr. Durbin continues, he is "seeking clarification" on whether companies that have "funded ALEC's operations in the past currently support ALEC and the model 'stand your ground' legislation." Oh, and by the way, the letter concludes, he intends to make the responses public at a Congressional hearing in September.

Nowhere in the editorial is it disclosed that the Wall Street Journal's parent company, News Corp., was reported to be a member of ALEC in 2012, a disclosure problem that has occurred before. The Center for Media and Democracy reported in May 2012 that:

Documents obtained and released by Common Cause show that News Corp. was a member of ALEC's Telecommunications and Information Technology Task Force as of April 2010. Adam Peshek, who staffs ALEC's Education Task Forcetold Education Week that News Corp. has been a member of both ALEC's Education Task Force and Communications and Technology Task Force since January 2012.

The Journal also misleadingly downplayed ALEC's efforts to spread Florida's Stand Your Ground law throughout the country, only noting that the organization "supported [the legislation] in Florida in 2005." But ALEC adopted a virtually identical law as part of the model legislation it then pushed through state legislatures throughout the country with the assistance of the NRA. 

Posted In
Justice & Civil Liberties, Guns
Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal
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