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We Track Corporations and PR Spin

The Center for Media and Democracy publishes SourceWatch to track corporations.
  • We provide well-documented information about corporate public relations (PR) campaigns, including corporate front groups, people who "front" corporate campaigns, and PR operations.
  • Dating back to when tobacco companies deployed doctors to try to prevent labeling of cancer-causing cigarettes, many corporations use the "tobacco playbook" to hide behind neutral-looking "experts" as well as think tanks or non-profits in their efforts to influence or distort public policy to protect their bottom line or agenda--often a narrow agenda at odds with the broader public interest.
  • This specialized encyclopedia watches those sources and provides detailed information about corporations and special interests, using the collaborative "wiki" platform, like Wikipedia.

CMD relies on concerned citizens like you to keep this research online. You can contribute here.

Please visit SourceWatch's sister websites PRWatch, to read our original reporting, and ALECexposed, to see our award-winning investigation of a corporate front group where corporate lobbyists actually vote as equals with elected legislators on "model" legislation to change our rights.

Also, please check out the in-depth research from around the world by our partner projects within SourceWatch: CoalSwarm and FrackSwarm.

You can also use the sign up box below to get breaking news about our breakthrough investigations.

Lisa Graves, Executive Director

Featured Work

Koch Brothers Backing Misleading Anti-Solar Campaign in Florida

The Koch brothers and utility giants are bankrolling a ballot initiative in Florida to block the development of home solar and to protect the utilities' continuing oligopoly on energy generation in the Sunshine State.

Solar is booming in the U.S., with a thirty percent increase in generation in 2014, but surprisingly it’s facing an uphill battle in Florida. The state Public Service Commission--stacked with appointees hand-picked by Republican Governor Rick Scott for their current terms--have gutted Florida's energy efficiency goals and ended a solar power rebate program for homeowners.

State law even prevents homeowners from installing solar panels by restricting the leasing of equipment by consumers.

Read the rest of this item here.

Scott Walker: Back in the Saddle, Back to His Old ALEC Tricks

On the heels of Scott Walker abandoning his presidential bid, the Wisconsin governor is returning to the state and flipping through the old American Legislative Exchange Council(ALEC) playbook for ideas.

Walker comes back to Wisconsin with his approval at an all-time low. Following a sneak attack on the open records law, a plan to spend hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars on a stadium for an NBA team co-owned by Walker's campaign finance co-chair, and mounting allegations of lawbreaking and political kickbacks at Walker's job creation agency (the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation), even Walker's longtime GOP supporters began to disapprove of the governor.

With his return to Wisconsin, some called on Walker to build bridges and mend fences. Read the rest of this item here.

CMD Publishes Full List of 2,500 Closed Charter Schools (with Interactive Map)

The Center for Media and Democracy has released a complete state-by-state list of failed charter schools since 2000. Among other things, this data reveals that millions and millions of federal tax dollars went to “ghost” schools that never even opened to students. The exact amount is unknown because the U.S. Department of Education is not required to report its failures.

This data set also provides reporters and citizens of each state an opportunity to take a closer look at how much taxpayer money has been squandered on the failed charter school experiment in their states. Read the rest of this item here.

Four Whoppers that Sunk Scott Walker

Scott Walker had it all, plenty of money from a cadre of billionaire backers, the Koch Brothers' blessing, 90 full-time staff and a passion for campaigning. The 47-year old career politician had tackled 25 primary and general elections in 25 years. So how is it possible that this battled-hardened veteran could go from leading the Iowa race in July to three percent in September? A CNN poll had him hovering near zero.

Scott Walker had a fatal flaw. He believed his own spin.

Read the rest of this item here.

Why Is Rick Berman Attacking Chipotle?

The PR man 60 Minutes dubbed "Dr. Evil"--Rick Berman--launched a new ad campaign this month against Chipotle.

The profits of the fast food Mexican-style burrito company--which promotes whole foods over heavily processed factory food-type products--have surged while competitors like McDonalds and Burger King have tumbled. Chipotle has drawn a line in the sand on GMOs with its "G-M-Over It" campaign, as Americans' concerns about genetically modified foods are growing.

Berman told investigative reporter Anna Werner of CBS News that no client specifically asked him to run this new ad campaign against Chipotle. Read the rest of this item here.

Koch PR Games: College Football Brought to You by Koch Industries

College football season has begun, and this year it is being brought to you by Koch Industries and not just in Kansas. CMD has obtained an exclusive list of the Koch-branded college football games, below.

The twelve Koch-backed college football games this season will feature Koch signage, a Koch video board, and Koch-branded giveaways.

Koch Industries is owned by billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch, who have made their fortune on refineries and fossil fuels. The Koch network of billionaires is one of the largest and most influential political operations in the country. Read the rest of this item here.

Recent Articles from

As Walker Continues Trying to Gut the Open Records Law, CMD Fights Back

On September 23, the Center for Media and Democracy filed the latest round in its lawsuit against Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker for unlawfully withholding public records related to his office’s alteration of the University of Wisconsin System’s mission statement and the "Wisconsin Idea.”

“Walker’s office continues fighting for secrecy, despite broad public backlash against the failed effort to gut the open records law,” said Brendan Fischer, CMD General Counsel. “Now that Walker has abandoned his presidential campaign, he should also abandon this flawed attack on the state’s open records law.” Read the rest of this item here.

Exclusive: Bankruptcy Is a “Huge Opportunity” to Privatize Schools Says EdBuild

The school privatization movement has long sought to consign public schools and locally elected school boards to the dust heap of history to usher in a brave new world of “free market” schools instead of free and universal public education.

One big reason for this obsession?

There’s at least half a trillion dollars a year up for grabs for corporations that want to line their coffers with taxpayer money.

Read the rest of this item here.

Donald Trump Is Proud of Not Breaking the Law?

In the last GOP presidential debate, Donald Trump boasted proudly about rejecting a $5 million check--but really, he was boasting about not flagrantly breaking the law. Because this is Trump, he might just be making it all up. During a heated exchange between Trump and Jeb Bush about who is beholden to big donors, Trump noted, accurately, that "a lot of money was raised by a lot of different people that are standing up here. And the donors, the special interests, the lobbyists have very strong power over these people." Read the rest of this item here.

Showdown in the "Show-Me State"

Missouri’s General Assembly met under pressure from corporations and their lobbyists to override Governor Jay Nixon’s veto of bills that would curb local government control over wages, paid sick leave, and other employment policies and make Missouri a Right-to-Work state.

Both bills vetoed by Nixon are high priorities of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an organization that drafts, distributes, and promotes model legislation designed to benefit its corporate and conservative funders, including major supporters Charles and David Koch. Read the rest of this item here.

Popular SourceWatch Articles

One of our most popular articles this week is about the American Council on Science and Health, which actively solicits funding from corporations and advocates positions that back those corporate interests. Two related articles about the backgrounds of two of the doctors that are part of the ACSH PR operations, Henry I. Miller and Gilbert Ross, are also popular this week.

SourceWatch's home page is the top landing page in this website. Here are some of the other hot pages:

Get breaking news on these and other issues here, "Like" us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter at @PRwatch and @ALECexposed."

Editors' Pick

How SPN "Think Tanks" Will Spin ALEC's 2016 Agenda

This week, a shadowy network of state-based, right-wing think tanks and advocacy groups will convene with Koch operatives and other big donors in Grand Rapids, Michigan to coordinate their 2016 agenda for all 50 states.

The State Policy Network (SPN) is a network of state-branded groups, like the Civitas Institute in North Carolina and the Goldwater Institute in Arizona, which appear to be independent yet actually are operating from the same national playbook. SPN plays a key role in driving the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) agenda, particularly by providing academic-like cover for ALEC's corporate-friendly policies. Read the rest of this item here.

With Federal Millions, "Wild West" of Charters Is about to Get Even Wilder

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) has announced the winners of the next round of state (SEA) grants under the quarter-billion-dollar-a-year Charter Schools Program (CSP) designed to boost the charter sector.

While eight state departments of education shared a $125-million pot of federal taxpayer money for 2015, the biggest recipient by far for this round of grants is Ohio. It landed a whopping $32.6 million grant to the dismay of public school advocates.

With its lax-to-non-existent charter school laws, and vast number of unaccountable authorizers, Ohio has long been an embarrassment even to the charter school industry. Read the rest of this item here.

Featured Video

Walker's Plan to Put A Nail in the Coffin of Worker’s Rights

Brendan Fischer, Center for Media and Democracy/ALEC Exposed joins Thom Hartmann. Walker's campaign laid out a plan to - as he put it - "give the power to the people - not the union bosses" And by that he meant put the final nail in the coffin of worker's rights in America

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Praise for SourceWatch!

"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 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.

"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.

"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
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