Keith Olbermann talked to Think Progress' Faiz Shakir about their recent reporting on the Chamber of Commerce and their attempt to buy America for the rich.
Responding to our posts, the Chamber launched a massive smear campaign using its large in-house communications staff and a network of well funded public relations firms:
– Manipulating Google And Blogs: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce retains public relations giant Fleishman-Hillard for much of their online communications work. Fleishman-Hillard VP Pat Cleary posts on the Chamber’s blog, and says he works closely with conservative bloggers through RedState. Other Chamber lobbyists collaborate routinely with conservative bloggers through the Heritage Foundation’s Bloggers Briefing to help get the message out for business lobbyists. As Cleary has told conferences of business lobbyists, he helps trade associations like the Chamber buy AdWords to promote the business lobby’s message. For example, when anyone Googles the words “US Chamber” and “foreign,” they see a link to the Chamber’s false response that it receives only $100,000 from foreign affiliates.
– Paying For Television Pundits: GOP lobbyist John Feehery has appeared on cable television to attack ThinkProgress’ reporting, taken to Twitter call President Obama a “business-hating socialist” for calling attention to this story, and even penned an article in The Hill newspaper to defend the Chamber and lie about our investigation. Feehery never mentioned the foreign corporate direct donations to the Chamber’s 501(c)(6). But more importantly, neither The Hill nor any of television outlets Feehery appears on disclosed the fact that Feehery’s public relations firm, The Feehery Group, counts the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as one of its clients. Shortly after our story broke, Feehery was hired by another public relations/lobbying firm, Quinn Gillespie, which is also a client of the Chamber. Moreover, Fox News’ parent company is an active member of the Chamber, and hate-talker Glenn Beck met with the Chamber’s second in command earlier this year to plot the 2010 election. While Fox hosts and Beck have endlessly defended the Chamber’s secret money, there has been no disclosure of the network’s financial ties to Chamber lobbyists.
– The Chamber Owns Fake News Sites: As the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard reported, the Chamber owns a variety of news websites in West Virginia, Illinois, and elsewhere, while also maintaining a wire service called Legal Newsline. All of these websites posture as independently owned and objective journalism outfits, and do not disclose that they are fully owned subsidiaries of Chamber lobbyists.
Faiz Shakir also mentioned their report where a lot of the Chambers's members are getting tired of their behavior and pushing back.