ME SEN: Tom Allen's out-of-state campaign team rolls over another Maine media outlet
By willal11 Posted in 2008 — Comments (3) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »
AsMaineGoes.com is reporting on yet another scandal involving the Maine media and the campaign of Tom Allen. Last month, AMG exposed Portland Channels 6 and 8 putting forward a supposedly objective segment about a housing bill Tom Allen introduced, and using Allen staffers and family members as actors in the piece. Now, the third TV channel in the Portland market, WGME 13, has jumped into the same muck as the others. And the reputation of Allen's communications director as a hard-ball negative hatchetman paints a disturbing image of what's going on in the Maine media.
Channel 13 aired a hit-piece last week against Susan Collins, and based the entire segment on a highly partisan documentary directed by an Allen donor and strong supporter. Here are the facts:
- According to FEC reports, Robert Greenwald of BraveNewFilms is a donor to the Tom Allen for Senate campaign.Greenwald is also a donor to MoveOn.org.
- Greenwald's website, BraveNewFilms.org, is an adamant supporter of Allen, and a severe critic of Susan Collins.
- Channel 13 used actual segments from the film "Iraq for Sale", directed by Robert Greenwald of BraveNewFilms. They issued a tiny, seconds-long credit to BraveNewFilms at the bottom of the screen at one point, but otherwise didn't explain who BNF or Greenwald were in relation to Allen.
- Channel 13 interviewed the former Halliburton employee that starred in the "Iraq for Sale" film, but failed to reveal his role in the Greenwald film, instead positing him as support material gathered by WGME directly.
The lack of honesty about the source of the piece makes Channel 13's transgression even more stunning than those of Channels 8 and 6 last month. A simple Google search of BraveNewFilms shows that, in addition to supporting Allen's campaign financially, Greenwald and company are among the fiercest critics of Senator Collins. Greenwald's website features some of the most over-the-top personal attacks against Collins, calling her a 'right-wing hack' and worse, and subscribes to the same hate-based commentary as their fellow 'netroots' bloggers at DailyKos and Huffington Post.
And to make this even more egregious, Tom Allen HIMSELF has a blog at BraveNewFilms' website!
If Gregg Lagerquist and Channel 13 knew all of this about BNF and failed to reveal it, that would be an unforgivable affront to the journalistic ethics they portend to uphold. But the context of what happened last month with the other two channels seems to indicate something worse- that Lagerquist had no idea what he was airing, and he simply took what the Allen campaign delivered to him and put it on the air, with no background checking whatsoever.
This seems entirely plausible, and would be in keeping with the scuttlebutt around the Maine media world about how the Allen camp operates. Allen's communications shop is run by the notorious Carol Andrews, a transplant from Tennessee who is perhaps most famous for knocking down a camera man in anger during the Harold Ford campaign in 2006. Before coming to Maine, Andrews was VP of one of the most hard-core negative campaign firms in the country, Fletcher Rowley Chao. To get an idea of how Andrews' former firm operates, here are a few classes offered by the firm in 2006 at a Campaigns and Elections seminar in Washington DC:
Ready, Aim, FIRE!
Going negative: when, why and how
Ben Chao, Fletcher Rowley Chao and Riddle
A campaign would not be a campaign without some negativity. This session teaches you when it’s appropriate to “go negative,” how negative to be, and what to say.
Diggin’ for Dirt!
How to find and use oppostion research
John Rowley, Fletcher Rowley Chao Riddle
Nothing says “gotcha” to an opponent like finding good dirt. In this session learn how to find invaluable information about the opposition and how to best use it to boost your candidate’s campaign.
Andrews plays hardball, and word has it that several members of the Maine political press have already been on the receiving-end of screaming, angry phone calls from her.
The Allen camp has gone hard-core negative after being pummeled in poll after poll, and it seems the pressure is on the media to do what Andrews says. The most reasonable explanation to what Lagerquist did with this absurdly one-sided hit piece last week is that he was force-fed a packaged story from Carol Andrews, the same way Channels 6 and 8 were fed a package about Allen's homebuyer bill, complete with actors and b-roll.
Channel 13 should have caught this, and they should never have aired this piece. Lagerquist apparently didn't have the spine or the motivation to offer due diligence by screening the material given to him, and appears to be the latest in a series of duped Maine reporters, manipulated like a country rube by a master of negative campaigning.