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Koch Footprints Lead to Political Powder Keg: Exposing the Far Right's Secret Slush Fund to Keep Fear Alive

A secretive libertarian nonprofit bankrolled a fear-mongering effort to get McCain into the White House. Until now, where the money came from has been a hotly debated mystery.

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The reaction to corporate media peddling this propaganda in the final days of a Presidential race where one candidate was already being smeared for Muslim ties was immediate and harsh.  A writer at Democratic Underground using the moniker MrMickeysMom grabbed the keyboard to vent a spontaneous reaction:  “Okay – Who ELSE just picked through the Sunday advertisements and viewed this DVD today?...They’re here to warn us about the declaration of war on Western Culture and to bring down Christianity and Judaism – just in time for the election.  So, this is the heat, folks.  This blitz DVD is one more step – the biggest, boldest step I can see to orchestrate fear, hatred and to change your vote…It told me that the White House will be changed and become the Muslim House…that America has to wake up and that America is strangling itself with ‘our political correctness.’ ”

Margaret Lewis of Durham, North Carolina fired off a letter to The News & Observer of Durham, North Carolina: "I cannot believe that I was sent the hate-inflaming, fear-mongering video disk ‘Obsession’ in my newspaper! What will you enclose next? KKK robes?"

Hal Chase of Hudson wrote to the St. Petersburg Times: “My wife and I were shocked to see the CD entitled Obsession tucked innocently among the ads in our Sunday paper.  This hate-filled propaganda is just part of the right-wing extremists’ fear and smear tactics.  Their hope is to make Americans afraid of anyone who is not exactly like them, and thereby affect the outcome of November’s election.”

Approximately 60 newspapers refused to accept the DVD for distribution, including the Detroit Free Press, the Plain Dealer of Cleveland, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and The News & Record of Greensboro, North Carolina.

At the time, John Robinson, Editor of The News & Record, said the paper declined to distribute the DVD because “…it was divisive and plays on people’s fears…As I’ve said on other occasions about news decisions,  just because you can publish doesn’t mean you should.”

CounterPunch can now report what this race-baiting, fear-mongering campaign cost and where the money, at least nominally, came from.  The 28 million DVDs were produced at a cost of $15,676,181 by Artist Direct Media which does mass manufacturing of CDs and DVDs with volume discounts.  The big media buy for Sunday newspaper insertions ran up the tidy tab of $719,436 and was conducted by NSA Media, a unit of the global ad giant, Interpublic Group, parent of McCann-Erikson. That figure seems decidedly on the light side so there may be other funding sources involved that have not yet surfaced. (NSA Media is a powerful ad buyer, representing some of the biggest print buyers and consumer brands in the country, which might help explain why so few questions were asked by the largest newspapers about this unseemly project.) The full tab, and then some, was paid by the super secretive libertarian nonprofit, Donors Capital Fund.  In 2008, Clarion Fund became Donors Capital Fund’s largest grantee by a large margin, receiving $17,778,600.  That sum constituted 96 per cent of all funds received by Clarion in 2008 and 9 times its revenue in 2007. 

Donor’s Capital Fund is a “supporting organization” to Donors Trust, a sister nonprofit.  Both promise the pursuit of taking over social welfare needs with private funds rather than government solutions; they want small government.  (With 43 million Americans now living below the poverty level, it’s fascinating to know that these folks earmarked $17 million not to hunger relief but to DVD packaging.  Let them eat plastic, perhaps.)

 
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