Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Progressive Situational Ethics

Adam Pagnucco is taking Len Lazarick to task over issues of disclosure about Len’s new media venture MarylandReporter.com, a daily news website covering state government. Pagnucco is caterwauling over the fact that Lazarick, formerly of the Baltimore Examiner, received seed money for the project from the right leaning Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, and that GASP! Dan Gainor, is listed on MarylandReporter.com’s board of directors.


Perhaps Pagnucco is just pissed that a Franklin Center project just nailed the Obama administration for $6.4 billion stimulus money that went to “create or save” jobs in phantom congressional districts. Or maybe Annapolis Democrats already redistricted and didn’t tell us. Apparently Maryland now has 75 congressional districts. Who represents District 00, which got 3.9 million for two jobs?

But I digress.

Pagnucco’s concern for “disclosure” is oh so situational. Where was his scathing expose of the now defunct, Maryland Commons, the “lefty online Maryland news outlet,” when it appeared on the scene?

Maryland Commons was published by one Neil Didriksen. Didriksen, according to state and federal databases is a generous campaign contributor to President Obama, Delegate Tom Hucker, former director of Progressive Maryland, and Speaker of the House, Michael Busch. Didriksen is also a supporter and member of Progressive Maryland. He is listed on the host committee (right next to Vinny DeMarco) for a Progressive Maryland fundraiser featuring Maryland Democratic politicians Ben Cardin, John Sarbanes, Donna Edwards, and Maggie McIntosh. He was on the 2007-2010 preliminary ballot for Progressive Maryland’s board of directors. Didriksen was even a registered lobbyist.

A Google search tells us that the site stopped operations as of August 10, 2009. Didriksen told me in a phone conversation that he stopped publishing Maryland Commons due to the fact that his recuperation from a car accident prevents him from operating the site.

Maryland Commons was also a “featured project” of the Center for Community Technology Services. CCTS assists “Baltimore area nonprofits increase their ability to use technology, strengthen their organizations and improve their service delivery.” Initially, CCTS was project of the University of Baltimore, meaning it gets taxpayer money. Did any taxpayer funds go to Maryland Commons and it’s leftwing agenda?

Didriksen is quoted on the CCTS site as saying:

In the Web 2.0 environment, online media organizations require a robust publishing and content management solution. As site readers, members, journalists, and editors interact with each other, new requirements and new opportunities to engage have emerged. CCTS helps us evaluate the potential return on our investment in those new requirements and supports the continuing development of our website.”

CCTS also receives funding from outside organizations. One of those organizations is the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation. According to it’s latest IRS 990 form the foundation lists Jane Brown as it’s executive director. Brown is Didriksen’s husband and a co-founder of Maryland Commons.
So we are left with not only the question of taxpayer dollars funding left wing policy advocacy, but was nepotism and self-dealing also involved?

Aside: What is it with progressives and their self dealing?

None of this stopped Pagnucco from linking to Maryland Commons as a source.

I would also ask Pagnucco where his keen detective skills were when the cached version of Maryland Commons disappeared? I ask that question because the cached version went down the memory hole after Barbara Hollingsworth’s October 6, 2009 Washington Examiner column mentioning Maryland Commons’ interview with Environment Maryland’s, Brad Heavner and United Steelworkers, Jim Strong. Heavner bragged about being the “lead policy/lobbying group", that wrote the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act (cap and trade for Maryland). Curious that the cached version was available before Hollingsworth’s column, then afterwards—POOF—it’s gone.

Given Pagnucco touted the agreement between Heavner and Strong’s groups I won’t hold my breath for an answer.

I might take Pagnucco’s yowling seriously if he weren’t so tone deaf to the same thing on his side.


Adam Pagnucco said...

Find for me where Maryland Commons:

1. Was evasive about their affiliations.

2. Demanded office space at the statehouse.

3. Said they were hiring four regular "reporters."

They were a tiny opinion site that was up for a few months and do not compare to Marylandreporter.com.

The very fact that you are so protective of Marylandreporter.com confirms their right-wing bona fides.

Mark Newgent said...

Oh Adam, now you are just prevaricating.

1. Did anyone bother to ask Maryland Commons about their affiliations? You certainly did not.

2. Someone as plugged in as Didriksen wouldn't need office space to get access to govt officials or key lobbying groups.

3. Didriksen did work for MDCommons as did his wife a former Sun editor, and they contracted out to seasoned freelancers. You point is meaningless.

And you're proving a point I've long made. The word progressive has no meaning other than "all good things." MDReporter gets seed money from right leaning organization = sacandal Lefty gets MDCommons same thing = perfectly fine.

I'm not protective of MDReporter just calling you out on your apparenlty willfull blindness and hypocrisy.

Adam Pagnucco said...

No hypocrisy here, Mark. What makes Marylandreporter.com different from any other predecessor, left or right, is that they are demanding equal treatment in line with the Post, Gazette and Sun in terms of getting state office space. They also want to be regarded as an objective reporting organization, not an opinion site. Because of that, they have an obligation to answer these questions.

You have been upfront with your readers about your employment by the Baltimore Examiner, which was owned by conservative billionaire Phil Anschutz. I've said many times that I am employed by the Carpenters Union. Neither of us has ever claimed to be objective or demanded statehouse office space. So why should Marylandreporter.com disclose less but demand more than a Mark Newgent?

Mark Newgent said...

Sorry Adam, I don't see the issue of office space as the salient issue you do. It's a red herring.

Len Lazarick and Andy Rosen are seasoned journalists. Just because they report news you don't like doesn't make MDReporter an opinion site.

Lazarick hasn't hidden his funding source in some deceitful plan to conceal them. He's abidided by the request not to announce it from the mountain top.

The DC Examiner and the Baltimore Examiner (when it was operating) operates from a conserevative perspective, but their reporting is fair and accurate. They just choose to cover stories the Sun or the Post would assume not to or wholly ignore.

Also, I asked Lazarick if I could contribute to MDReporter. He turned me down. He wants real reporters.

Just to clarify. I've never been an employee of the Baltimore Examiner or the Washington Examiner. My associaion with Clarity Digital Media--Anschutz's company--with the history page and covering the Redskins is as an independent contractor with Examiner.com--a wholly seperate entity from the newspapers.