Today, the nonprofit investigative journalism outfit ProPublica announced a partnership with Kentucky’s Courier-Journal. As part of a push to support local journalism, ProPublica will fund the Courier-Journal’s year-long investigation into a state government program.
Governor Matt Bevin seems to be feeling a bit threatened by this arrangement, as he made clear in a conspiracy-baiting video posted on Facebook.
In the video, Bevin rails against ProPublica, accusing the four-time Pulizter Prize-winners of being a leftist mouthpiece funded by nefarious billionaires including, of course, George Soros.
Bevin takes a page out of his good friend Donald Trump’s book, describing the “dying” Courier-Journal as deeply biased.
“Who’s holding the Courier-Journal accountable?” Bevin asks. “Who is doing any kind of analysis of who this ProPublica is?”
Bevin tries to do a bit of analysis himself. He discusses how ProPublica was founded by Herb and Marion Sandler, finance billionaires whose bank Wachovia was one of many involved in the 2008 financial crash. This is true! The Sandlers donate $10 million a year to ProPublica, which they helped found in 2007. Bevin then claims that Wachovia was in the business of sub-prime mortgages. This is also true! So far so good, Bevin. Now, if you could just refrain from veering off into lunatic conservative conspiracy theories...
“[The Sandlers] are now funneling that ill gained money into left-leaning organizations like ProPublica,” Bevin warns. “This is also an organization supported by George ‘I-Hate-America’ Soros... Now the Courier-Journal has said, ‘We don’t even care. We’ll sell our souls, we’ll be a sock puppet for the ProPublica organization, for George Soros, for the Sandlers, for all these other people who hate America.’”
Bevin ends on a less-than-subtle note: “I encourage everybody to just disregard the nonsense that comes out of this biased, left-wing organization,” he says.
We don’t yet know on what story ProPublica and the Courier-Journal are collaborating. But it seems that Bevin is trying to preemptively discredit their reporting on whatever state corruption they might uncover.
To back up his claims about ProPublica’s bias, Bevin’s Facebook post links to two articles about the organization, one in The Daily Caller and another from the Washington Examiner. Both of these pieces use the organization’s financial backing as a reason to dismiss its stories as liberal and biased.
We can play the same game. The Daily Caller, founded by Fox News idiot Tucker Carlson and political advisor Neil Patel, raised $3 million from Foster Friess, an investment fund manager who is a well-known patron of conservative causes. The Washington Examiner is owned by Phillip Anschuz, a billionaire entrepreneur and conservative donor. According to Politico, upon buying the paper Anschuz told the editorial team he “wanted nothing but conservative columns and conservative op-ed writers.”
Aha! These publications are funded by conservatives! Does that mean everything they publish is biased lies? Of course not (only some of it is). Yes, spin and bias are real, and they’re everywhere—even at publications that claim to be objective! In fact, it’s probably more honest to admit your biases outright instead of claiming total objectivity. (That’s what we believe, at least.) The logical fallacy-loving nerds of the right would do well to take their own advice and remember that the source of a claim doesn’t signify its truthfulness.
While it may be funded by bad people (which we believe all billionaires are), ProPublica is known for its in-depth investigations. It has an amazing journalistic record, and a propensity for digging up stories that people in power want suppressed. Why is Bevin so eager to discredit them before their investigations have even begun?