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Welcome to SourceWatch, a project of the Center for Media and Democracy!

The Center for Media and Democracy publishes SourceWatch, this collaborative resource for citizens and journalists looking for documented information about the corporations, industries, and people trying to influence public policy and public opinion. We believe in telling the truth about the most powerful interests in society—not just relating their self-serving press releases or letting real facts be bleached away by spin. With the help of volunteer editors, SourceWatch focuses on the for-profit corporations, non-profit corporate front groups, PR teams, and so-called "experts" trying to influence public opinion on behalf of global corporations and the government agencies they have captured. We also profile some of the individuals and groups shining a light on these PR campaigns and also feature clearinghouses for information about select "hot topics" (to your left). Please check out our other sites: PRWatch, BanksterUSA, and ALECexposed. —Lisa Graves, Executive Director
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Featured Work

VP Role for Paul Ryan Has His Former Parish Priest Worried

by Jonathan Rosenblum

Nativity of Mary Parish School, Janesville, WI
The entrance to St. Mary Elementary School in Janesville, Wisconsin has two identical archways with contrasting inscriptions. One entrance says, "For God." The other says, "For Country." That is where Mitt Romney's vice presidential running mate, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, first merged his studies of government and religion as a young student.

And the priest who presides over the archways and the towering steeple of the Nativity of Mary says that Ryan's interpretation of Catholic teaching in national budgetary matters and his prospective vice presidential role have him "worried." Father Stephen Umhoefer told the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) that he supports a role for religion in the public square, but that Ryan‘s austerity budget and proposed steep cuts in social programs are inconsistent with the Catholic teachings that Ryan cites to justify the policies.

Read the rest of this item here.

Paul Ryan: Bankrolled by the Banksters, the Privatizers and the Kochs

by Mary Bottari

U.S. Congressman (WI) Paul Ryan, 2012 GOP vice-presidential nominee
In the 14 years that Paul Ryan has been a Congressman from Southeastern Wisconsin, he has never had a challenger of any stature or a race of any significance. Janesville, his hometown and the heart of the district, has no TV stations and only a handful of small, scrappy newspapers. What an opportunity for a man of the people to take the highroad!

Ryan could have run every single one of his seven election cycles just like former U.S. Senator Bill Proxmire (D-WI), who ran statewide but only totaled about $1,000 for his nominating petitions and a handful of other expenses.

Instead, Ryan has decided to make himself beholden to some of the biggest corporate interests in America. FIRE (finance, insurance and real estate) poured $2.8 million into his races over the years so he could go mano-a-mano with the likes of John Heckenlively, an unemployed reporter who spent exactly $0 in his 2010 run against Ryan.

Read the rest of this item here.

Stars Earn Stripes, NBC's New "War-Musement" TV Show, Panned by Nobel Peace Laureates, Veterans, and Others

by Lisa Graves

Dollar Sign Stars and Stripes200px.jpg
Nine winners of the Nobel prize for peace are calling on NBC to cancel its new TV series, "Stars Earn Stripes" (S-E-S).

The network unabashedly used its monopoly on the U.S. broadcast of the summer Olympic games to promote this new "reality" series, which debuted this week.

The show features eight celebrities competing in what NBC calls "missions inspired by real military" activities -- such as firing missiles and other simulated deadly weapons -- alongside teammates and trainers who served in the military or did other related work.

The Laureates' letter notes that “war isn’t entertainment,” and they call the show “a massive disservice to those who live and die in armed conflict and suffer its consequences long after the guns of war fall silent.”

Read the rest of this item here.

NRA Up to Old Tricks at ALEC, But "Docs and Glocks" Bill Halted

by Brendan Fischer

Florida Governor Rick Scott is spending taxpayer money defending a law conceived by the National Rifle Association (NRA) and proposed for ratification by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) that would prohibit doctors from asking their patients about gun ownership. Though the law has been blocked by a federal court, it appeared set to follow the path to becoming an ALEC "model bill" paved by the infamous "Stand Your Ground" law, which was initially cited by law enforcement to protect Trayvon Martin's killer in Florida.

Governor Scott signed the "Firearm Owners' Privacy Act" in June of 2011, and a month later, NRA lobbyist Tara Mica presented it as a "model" bill for adoption by the ALEC Public Safety and Elections Task Force.

In July 2012, a federal judge struck down the so-called "Docs vs. Glocks" law as violative of the First Amendment rights of doctors. "What is curious about this law -- and what makes it different from so many other laws involving practitioners' speech -- is that it aims to restrict a practitioner's ability to provide truthful, non-misleading information to a patient," wrote U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke.

Read the rest of this item here.

Recent Articles from

Conservative School Choice Group Spends Big Supporting Pro-School Choice Democrats

by Harriet Rowan

The American Federation for Children Action Fund Inc., a pro-school privatization group bankrolled by conservative financiers, has spent more than $113,000 supporting five Milwaukee Democrats running for State Assembly and Senate, who are facing primaries on August 14.

The American Federation for Children (AFC) is a D.C.-based organization chaired by Betsy DeVos, the billionaire wife of Amway heir Dick DeVos and former chair of the Michigan Republican Party. In recent years she has funneled tens of millions of dollars into school privatization efforts nationwide. In Wisconsin, AFC spent millions on independent expenditures and phony issue ads to back Republican candidates in the 2011 and 2012 recall races, but have supported some Milwaukee Democrats in past elections.

Read the rest of this item here.

"Americans for Job Security" Targets WI GOP Senate Race, from the Shadows

by Brendan Fischer

A mysterious dark money group that has received Koch-connected funding called "Americans for Job Security" has dropped $689,000 on ads in Wisconsin attacking GOP Senate candidate (and billionaire hedge fund manager) Eric Hovde. It is the first major ad buy in the 2012 election cycle from the secretly-funded group, which is officially registered as a 501(c)(6) nonprofit "trade association" like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce or PhRMA, but does not appear to advance the interests of any particular industry or trade.

The two "issue" ads, which began running just a few weeks before Wisconsin's August 14 primary, accuse Hovde of taking federal stimulus dollars, which the ad says is "leading us towards bankruptcy." However, several TV stations have since taken the ads off the air after Hovde threatened legal action.

Read the rest of this item here

Corporate "Sin-Washing:" Embracing the Olympic Brand Pays Off for Sponsors

by Will Dooling

Global corporations like Dow Chemical, Adidas, and McDonald's are paying upwards of $100 million USD to sponsor the 2012 London games and associate themselves with the Olympic brand -- but with their brands already well-established, what do corporations get in exchange for these expensive sponsorship deals?

According to Dave Zirin, sportswriter and columnist for The Nation, the payoff comes through "corporate sin-washing."

"More than any other enterprise, if a company associates themselves with an Olympics, it really creates a positive feeling in the mind of the consumer," he says.

But, "if you look at the main sponsors that the International Olympic Committee has brought on board, you see companies like Dow Chemicals, British Petroleum, McDonald's, Adidas." These companies, Zirin tells the Center for Media and Democracy, are some of "the worst corporate criminals" most in the need of an Olympic absolution.

Read the rest of this item here.

Editors' Pick of the Week

"Path to Prosperity?" Paul Ryan's Medicare Plan Looks Like a Path to the Poorhouse

by Wendell Potter

GOP Voucher protest200px.jpg
If Americans who are embracing Rep. Paul Ryan's "Path to Prosperity" -- and that now includes Mitt Romney -- spent a few minutes reviewing a few recent research reports, they just might conclude that the Wisconsin Republican's plan to reduce the deficit might better be renamed the "Path to the Poorhouse" because of what it would mean to the Medicare program and many senior citizens.

Ryan's proposal, which will get new scrutiny now that Romney has made him his running mate, would end the current Medicare program for everyone born after 1956. It would replace Medicare with a system in which beneficiaries would receive a set amount of money from the government every year to buy coverage from private insurers. That money would go straight into insurance companies' bank accounts, which would make them far richer and even more in control of our health care system than they already are. Read the rest of this item here.

Mark Fiore on How a Bill Becomes a Law -- ALEC-Style

The brilliant Putlizer-prize winning cartoonist, Mark Fiore, does it again with another cartoon video skewering the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

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Through our ongoing investigation, we're exposing the American Legislative Exchange Council's secret lobbying, corporate-funded "scholarships," and its "model" bills voted on secretly by corporate lobbyists and legislators. ALEC's extreme agenda to expand corporate power and limit the rights of ordinary Americans is detailed here. We need your help in exposing the corporations that bankroll ALEC and corrupt the democratic process.

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Featured Video

ALEC Under Fire

July 25, 2012 -- KSTU Television FOX 13, Salt Lake City, UT -- Max Roth reporting:

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an organization that has taken center stage in a national debate over the proper roles of government and business, is meeting in Salt Lake City to cheers from a number of Republican Utah lawmakers and protests from many national non-profits and local activists.

ALEC brings state lawmakers from around the country together with corporate sponsors and some conservative interest groups. They cite free market interests as their prime mission and they call themselves bi-partisan.

In recent years, however, ALEC has lost the majority of its Democratic members and in the past year a number of corporate sponsors have fled as well.

Lisa Graves, the executive director of the Center for Media and Democracy came to Utah to protest.

"They [ALEC] vote on model legislation behind closed doors without the press, without people like you or the public present and then those state legislators come out to their state house and introduce those bills cleansed from any fact that they were pre-voted on by corporate lobbyists," Graves said.

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