MPBN, the Environmental Left, Bias and Hypocrisy

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Jon Reisman
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MPBN, the Environmental Left, Bias and Hypocrisy

For more than a decade I have been concerned with the power and influence of the environmental left in Maine, and specifically their ability to manipulate the agenda. I led the opposition to the endangered listing of Atlantic salmon in Washington County from 1995-2000 and the lands bond in 1999. Both of those efforts earned me the deep and lasting enmity of the environmental left. The salmon listing fight included the Maine Attorney General’s office “warning” me of hate speech against environmentalists, an action which eventually resulted in an apology from the AG and his eventual departure. The NRCM did feel it necessary to write to Gov. King advising him that I was a destructive force in environmental policy making.

Maine Public Radio and Television provides some of the only statewide news programming, especially in environmental policy areas. MPBN is clearly a major part of the agenda setting and public opinion forming processes in environmental policy. MPBN’s news judgment, particularly what they choose to cover and emphasize and what they choose to ignore/omit, makes them the mouthpiece and sometimes megaphone for the environmental left. Last June, MPBN featured a hit piece on Republicans and global warming. Then the environmental left went semi-ballistic when Paul LePage pulled out of the MPBN debate.

On October 7th I e-mailed MPBN President Dowe the following request:

Hi Mr. Dowe-

I am writing to request information on how much support environmental groups have given MPBN since 2001. I want to know the level of financial support and in-kind support/volunteer efforts given to MPBN from the following groups:

Natural Resources Council of Maine
Maine Audubon
Sierra Club
Environment Maine
Cool Air-Clean Planet
Maine Peoples Alliance
Nature Conservancy

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Jon Reisman.

I did not receive any response from Mr. Dowe.

---------------------

On November 17th, I emailed and faxed this follow up:

Dear Mr. Dowe-

I am writing to again request the information I requested in the October 7th, 2010 e-mail attached below. I am formally invoking Maine's Freedom of Access Act guaranteeing access to public records. I want the financial and in-kind support provided by the following environmental groups to MPBN since 2001:

Natural Resources Council of Maine
Maine Audubon
Sierra Club
Environment Maine
Cool Air-Clean Planet
Maine Peoples Alliance
Nature Conservancy
League of Conservation Voters

As I expect this material to be relevant to budget testimony I am preparing, I would appreciate your prompt if belated attention to this matter.

Your organization's title, Maine Public Broadcasting Network, as well as your coverage of campaign finance, ethics and transparency issues suggests that MPBN should comply with this FOAA request without further delay.

Jon Reisman

---------------------

I did not receive any response again, and after several days forwarded the second e-mail to a number of folks, including Al Diamon. Mr. Diamon pursued the matter and caused MPBN to finally respond on Nov 30th:

Subject: Fwd: Underwriting by Advocacy Groups
Date: Tue, 30 Nov 2010 15:26:45 -0500
From: John Isacke

To: reisman@maineline.net

CC: Jim Dowe , Keith Shortall , Kate Casparius , Lou Morin , aldiamon@herniahill.net

Mr. Reisman,

Per your request, I have attached an excel spreadsheet showing the Underwriting support of MPBN for the past ten years by the eight organizations of interest to you. Also attached is a copy of our Underwriting standards for Advocacy Groups, with which each of these organizations must comply. This $70,000 of support of MPBN compares to total support over that same ten year period of well in excess of $100,000,000 - thus less than 7/100 of one percent.

I send you this information even though I do not believe that it is covered by an FOAA request. But rather I do so in an effort to give you the desired information about public sponsorship of MPBN's activities.

If you should have any more questions, don't hesitate to contact me directly.

John Isacke
VP for Administration & CFO
Maine Public Broadcasting Network

-----------------------------------

The spreadsheet and sponsor policy document are now available on AMG, and I urge folks to dig in and digest them.

There are a number of possible areas to go from here. MPBN is also getting funds from Efficiency Maine from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative…those dollars should be accounted for. These matters need to be brought to the attention of the appropriations, education and cultural affairs and natural resources committees. If Maine is to reverse the damage the environmental left has done over the last 30 years, MPBN must be defunded of public dollars and openly recognized as the public relations arm of the environmental movement.

BlueJay
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Prof. Reisman, excellent

Prof. Reisman, excellent work. Now is the time to expose the enviro-left for what they're really all about. Kuddos to you.

Matt
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Did you ask what percentage

Did you ask what percentage of their underwriting is from for-profit corporations? Perhaps they are a mouthpiece for Big Business ...

Jon Reisman
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Matt, I urge you and anyone

Matt, I urge you and anyone else to make similar FOAA requests of MPBN. We'll see how fast they answer them.

Naran
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If you should have any more

If you should have any more questions, don't hesitate to contact me directly.

And, make sure you cc the email to at least one prominent, troublemaking Maine Journalist, otherwise you won't get a response.

************

Did that alleged "hate speech" have anything to do with caviar?
lol

Jim Cyr
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I could go on at length

I could go on at length about my own personal tussles with MPBN over the last decade.
The amount we Maine taxpayers give to them is a small amount (relatively speaking). But if our politicians are serious about cutting nonessential services to balance our budget in light of our fiscal crisis, they will do as Jon suggests and end Maine public financing of MPBN.
They're so leftist it's silly.

Economike
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Natural Resources Council of

Natural Resources Council of Maine
Maine Audubon
Sierra Club
Environment Maine
Cool Air-Clean Planet
Maine Peoples Alliance
Nature Conservancy
League of Conservation Voters

Hmmmm. No one donates to the Sierra Club in hopes that his money will end up sponsoring The Three Tenors.

These groups contribute to MPBN in ways that advance their respective agendas or else they're wasting their members' dues. That these contributions form a tiny proportion of the MPBN budget isn't the point. The point is that they're buying "journalism".

Melvin Udall
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Wow...they're raising $10

Wow...they're raising $10 million a year?

And yet they go apoplectic over MHPC, and a few other counter-culture NP's that are nowhere close to being in their league of influence and fund raising.

I've got an idea. MHPC needs to run ads showing me in my front yard, enjoying my private property, and offering a CD of my favorite Sousa marches and Reagan speeches, for a donation of $100 or more.

threeifbywire
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...Last June, MPBN featured a

...Last June, MPBN featured a hit piece on Republicans and global warming

I just reread that linked report. In it, Stone reports on how the primary candidates responded to a debate question about global warming, then goes on to interview scientists about the same question.

So what about it characterizes it as a "hit piece?" Seems appropriate that voters should know which candidates were in disagreement on the science.

Mike Travers
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3, Scientists are in

3,

Scientists are in disagreement on the science of global warming. I expect to see an episode on just that subject on MPBN most any day now.

threeifbywire
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MT, As I recall, even

MT,

As I recall, even Professor Reisman doesn't dispute anthropogenic global warming. His beef has always been about what the best course of action should be in response to it.

threeifbywire
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...Also, given Professor

...Also, given Professor Reisman's valiant past campaigns in defense of minority dissent in academia and corporate voice in politics, I trust I'm not the only one who sees the irony in this post-powershift project here to throttle a news outlet for airing an opinion at odds with the majority party's platform.

Mackenzie Andersen
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I didn't see anything about

I didn't see anything about the 7/100 of one percent quoted in the Guidelines, which is only one page and seems to be cut short

The 7/100 of one percent is calculated over a 10 year period in which there are no donations listed until the year 2004. How does the ratio work out if one does not include the years in which no donations are made? If this is allowed by the Guidelines then does this mean that a new contributor can donate 70/100 of one percent in a single year as long as he makes no further contribution for the next ten years? This would make no sense since one cannot know the total donations of a ten year period in advance.- So in reverse can a new contributor donate 7/100 percent of the total amount donated over the last ten years? Then what happens in future donations decrease?

The spread sheet provided does not include any figures pertaining to the total contributions per year. Without this figure, one cannot calculate what the percentage is in the years that begin in 2004 when the requested groups started making contributions.

The only sensible way to calculate is on a per year basis- which would have to be calculated on a known amount. I am not sure how that works since even in a single year one cannot know the total contributions in advance unless there is a pre-established cap on the total amount of contributions.

Mackenzie Andersen
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Seems like you can find out

Seems like you can find out more information by accessing the Annual Report

This is the link for 2008 Annual Report

It lists all the Revenues, of which "contributions" is just one category. The key word used by Mr Isaake's is "support".

The information provided in the Guidelines Link does not even mention the 7/100 of one percent- Let alone what comprises the total amount of "support" on which the 7?100 of one percent is calculated. I am not finding the key word "support" listed in the annual report.

Mike Travers
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I'm sure Professor Reisman is

I'm sure Professor Reisman is capable of speaking for himself. The point I was making is that interviewing scientists who agree with you doesn't qualify as fair and balanced reporting. It doesn't even qualify as a poor imitation of fair and balanced reporting.

Jon Reisman
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There is one reasonably well

There is one reasonably well known skeptical Republican climate change policy academic in Maine, the reporter knows him, but somehow he's not a balancing source for the story? That kind of balance might defeat the hit piece purpose of the story.

threeifbywire
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There is one reasonably well

There is one reasonably well known skeptical Republican climate change policy academic

Is this person a climate scientist - or just a Republican policy skeptic?

Jim Cyr
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Threeifbywire, you're joking

Threeifbywire, you're joking right? All of MPBN's environmental pieces (heck, all of their pieces PERIOD) are done with a particular "lens", which flavors every piece. Shadings, weasel words, loaded phraseology, imbalance of "expert" opinions being quoted, placement in the pieces of viewpoints (ex. the sandwhich technique), use of emotive language, tone of voice, framing the issue in advance, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. all lead to pieces designed to advance an agenda, inch by inch, brick by brick, incrementally. They're very good at it; I salute them for that.
This is as old a topic as propaganda itself (which is very, very old).
I would respectfully suggest you have your head stuck in the...............pre-historic mentality?? Way back, anyways.
This is easy, easy stuff.

"Depends on what you look at, obviously..............but even more it depends on the way that you see" *(Bruce Cockburn).

Naran
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MPBN to get $655,580 digital

MPBN to get $655,580 digital transition grant for upgrades

12/27/10 07:32 pm
BANGOR, Maine — USDA Rural Development will award Maine Public Broadcasting Network a $655,580 Public Television Station Digital Transition Grant to support its efforts to provide the highest-quality programming to Maine viewers statewide, many of whom live in rural areas.

[url=http://www.bangordailynews.com/story/Statewide/MPBN-to-get-655580-digita...

Jon Reisman
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Monday March 14,

Monday March 14, 2011

Testimony of Jon Reisman

for Appropriations & Financial Affairs and Education & Cultural Affairs Committees

on Appropriations for Maine Public Broadcasting Corporation

Members of the Committees-

Thank you for accepting this written testimony as I cannot travel to Augusta for the hearing.

My name is Jon Reisman. I am a resident of Cooper, ME. I am an associate professor of economics and public policy at the University of Maine at Machias.

I urge the Committees to craft an appropriations plan for Maine Public Broadcasting that weans the network from taxpayer subsidies over the next 2 years, directing MPBN to replace public dollars with privately raised dollars from Maine’s environmental community.

MPBN’s environmental policy biases are readily evident to any careful observer of their programming, news judgment, personnel and past and present executive leadership. It has been particularly evident and egregious over the past year, as they have essentially served as a mouthpiece for the environmental left. The Natural Resources Council of Maine is a major sponsor of MPBN, as are a number of other environmental organizations.

As environmental policy has become an increasingly statist endeavor, it should be no surprise that state subsidized media have abandoned any pretense of objectivity and adopted an increasingly partisan and statist bias in their coverage. Please end the subsidy of a network that is essentially reporting environmentalist propaganda as opposed to actual news. MPBN will undoubtedly be able to replace the taxpayer subsidy with increased support from Maine’s well heeled environmental groups, which will have two additional benefits- MPBN’s environmental policy biases and conflicts of interest will be transparently evident and the environmental left will have fewer dollars available to further damage Maine’s economy and prospects.

Thank you for accepting this testimony. I can be reached at jreisman@maine.edu

Naran
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Thank you, Jon. Well said.

Thank you, Jon. Well said.

BlueJay
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I agree. Good work, Jon

I agree. Good work, Jon Reisman.

Jon Reisman
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Lepage proposes to cut MPBN

Lepage proposes to cut MPBN off.

from my written testimony (above):

"I urge the Committees to craft an appropriations plan for Maine Public Broadcasting that weans the network from taxpayer subsidies over the next 2 years, directing MPBN to replace public dollars with privately raised dollars from Maine’s environmental community."

Jon Reisman
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Last night MPBN reported on

Last night MPBN reported on the First Wind/DEP Bowers Mtn decision delay. Once again, MPBN reported on an environmental and energy policy issue that directly involves several MPBN underwriters (First Wind, NRCM, others?) without disclosing that the subjects of the report are MPBN underwriters. This continuing refusal to disclose is unacceptable, and will result in efforts to either mandate disclosure or cut public funding.

BlueJay
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And I say cut public funding

And I say cut public funding completely.

Thank you, Prof Reisman for keeping us updated.

Cheech
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You mention Efficiency Maine

You mention Efficiency Maine receiving funds from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Are any part of those funds, whole or in part, from funds received from the federal government as the result of their not having removed nuclear materials from the now closed Wiscasset plant? If so, why is Efficiency Maine getting that funding rather than it being rebated to the rate-payers who originally bore that cost?

Jon Reisman
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On Nov 18 MPBN covered the

On Nov 18 MPBN covered the First Wind merger. First Wind CEO's webcast was quoted No critic of First Wind was interviewed. There was also no disclosure that First Wind is an MPBN underwriter.

When MPBN reports a story that substantially involves and/or directly quotes an underwriter, they must disclose that relationship.

When repeatedly confronted with this over the past 5 years, MPBN has refused to put such disclosures on environmental and energy policy stories.

MPBN's coverage on these issues can and often does set the agenda and influence public opinion. A sponsor/underwriter disclosure is required for ethical and transparency reasons. If MPBN continues to refuse to disclose these relationships when reporting, their public subsidy should be withdrawn.

http://news.mpbn.net/post/first-wind-deal-expected-open-new-markets-alte...

Dale Tudor
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The American taxpayer needs

The American taxpayer needs to support MPBN and related entities about as much as I need to eat a bag of jelly beans. It is completely unnecessary and a waste of taxpayer funds. All of this funding should be removed on the federal level during the next two years.

Dale Tudor
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The American taxpayer needs

My new computer and I are yet to arrive at a good working relationship, thus this message instead of that danged double post.

taxfoe
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Climate change/global warming

Climate change/global warming is accepted science at NPR.

I have a special appreciation for NPR that might extend to MPBN if I ever listened to it. I listen to NPR a lot. It's the only live radio I can count on in most of the places I go. I want to know when the EMP is about to hit.

NPR likes to remind me that, because of the listener donations I don't make, they are not beholden to the interests of corporate sponsors who actually keep them on the air. They praise me further by reminding me of their far flung bureaus which wouldn't exist without me ignoring beg week before they return to scheduled programming.

Then they'll take me to Havana where the Castro brothers are not killing peasants to use their corpses as a sea wall . . or Rio where they are not killing . . planning adequately . . for a sea wall. And they're selling cruises to fabulous destinations where they are not knocking over condos to build a sea wall.

And they'll switch back to commentary where the respected guest will state emphatically that Florida will be under water in 20 years. Why are they advocating for amnesty when they should be raising ladders to higher ground?

Melvin Udall
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Climate 'disruption' is the

Climate 'disruption' is the new scare term.

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