Bill Moyers is at it again. In a documentary entitled “The United States of ALEC” aired as an episode of “Moyers & Company,” Moyers and the Center for Media and Democracy’s Lisa Graves attacked the American Legislative Exchange Council for half an hour.
“The United States of ALEC” was typical of a Center for Media and Democracy/ Common Cause hit job on ALEC. The documentary slammed the Koch Brothers and Koch Industries and attacked Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker at length, accusing him of being an ALEC pawn. Moyers also claimed that the state of Arizona is “practically an ALEC subsidiary.”
To Moyers’s nominal credit, this time he admitted at the beginning of the documentary that the research conducted for this project had been funded by both his own Schumann Center for Media and Democracy and by the Schumann-funded Center for Media and Democracy. Common Cause was also involved in the making of the video, although Moyers did not mention his connection to that group. The Schumann Center is listed as a donor on Common Cause’s website, but the amount is not specified.
Moyers’s concession did not negate the fact that he broadcasted and posted a documentary funded by a foundation he runs, which cited experts from groups the Schumann Center funded, on his show which airs on taxpayer-funded TV.
At the end of the program, Moyers promoted the “American Legislative and Issue Campaign Exchange,” a project of the openly liberal American Constitution Society (ACS), as a non-corporate-funded alternative to ALEC. The ACS is instead funded by such lefty groups as George Soros’s Open Society Institute, several branches of the ACLU and the AFL-CIO, the SEIU, NARAL, and the Tides Foundation, which has itself received money from both the Schumann Center and Open Society. The ACS also receives money from corporate sponsors including Facebook, Microsoft, Pepsico and Viacom International, although Moyers touted ALICE as a “non-corporate, out-in-the-open, web-based library of model laws on a range of public interest issues” and stated explicitly that “Alice doesn’t have corporate or billionaire backers.”
The American Legislative Exchange Council is a non-profit organization that promotes state-based policy initiatives. ALEC has been heavily criticized by the left for its politically conservative stance on many issues. Moyers, whom Common Cause called a “veteran journalist,” has been instrumental in both funding and publicizing the attacks against the conservative group ALEC.
The Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics expressly states that “journalists should avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived,” and that they should “remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility,” and, furthermore, that journalists should “shun secondary employment, political involvement … if they compromise journalistic integrity.”
Moyers heads the Schumann Center for Media and Democracy, which has given away $1,360,000to groups leading the attack on ALEC. That point was ignored in four stories written about ALEC on Moyers’s website in 2012, even though Moyers has been criticized for his connections in the past. Similarly, billionaire George Soros also donated more than $12 million to those same organizations.
The campaign against ALEC, dubbed “ALEC Exposed,” managed to pressure several of ALEC’s donors to pull their funding from the group, including Kraft, McDonalds, PepsiCo and Coca-Cola.