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*** UPDATED x1 - Tillman responds *** Deep dives into the growing Illinois web of conservative “propaganda”

Thursday, Nov 30, 2017

*** UPDATE *** From John Tillman…

Hi, Rich,

One of the golden rules of journalism is to stick to the facts. Unfortunately, a hit piece published by Gateway Journalism Review missed the mark. The authors of this piece set out not to investigate the truth, but to build a case to support a false premise they’d already convinced themselves was true. Virtually every paragraph is riddled with inaccuracies or distortions.

It’s important to note that before maligning the Illinois Policy Institute, the authors of this piece failed to pick up the phone and talk to the Institute. They even failed to offer our organization a chance to comment. If the authors had extended this basic journalistic courtesy, perhaps they could have avoided the many inaccuracies in their piece.

Our bias — as the authors like to refer to our point of view — is to advocate for policies that empower the people, not the government. We believe in fiscal responsibility, limited government and reforms that will grow the state’s economy. It’s very clear that Gateway’s complaint about our organization isn’t a process disagreement over modes of operation, which nearly every media organization has confronted and experimented with as new media has reshaped the landscape. It’s a desire to silence different points of view and new ways of reaching the public.

Hit pieces like this don’t make journalism better. They make Illinois worse.

John Tillman
CEO

Illinois Policy Institute
Illinois Policy

[ *** End Of Update *** ]

* From the introduction to a Gateway Journalism Review story entitled “Illinois’ ‘independent’ news network publishes pro-Rauner propaganda”

This report is the work of an investigative reporting class in the School of Journalism at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. The project analyzed public records about an interlocking network of conservative news organizations connected to the free market, anti-tax, anti-union Illinois Policy Institute. The SIU reporting project examined documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. In addition, reporters tracked down freelancers who wrote local Illinois stories from thousands of miles away. Nathaniel Dean Fortmeyer was the student who took the lead in the investigation. William Recktenwald taught the class and reported from Harrisburg. Recktenwald was an investigative reporter at the Chicago Tribune. William H. Freivogel is publisher of GJR.

* From the story

A group of free-market billionaires and conservatives allied with Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner controls a network of newspapers, radio stations, news sites and policy institutes promoting the governor’s agenda while presenting themselves as independent and free from bias.

When people in Carbondale, DuPage, Chicago, Kankakee, Rock Island, Will County and other Illinois communities pick up the local newspaper or click on a website, they are promised traditional journalistic values — the “highest standards of truth and accuracy…and independence” — “Just the Facts” — “nonpartisan, nonprofit…dedicated to the principles of transparency, accountability and fiscal responsibility.”

What readers get is a strong pro-Republican, pro-Rauner, anti-Michael Madigan slant manufactured by the interlocking group of media organizations revolving around the free-market, anti-tax, anti-union Illinois Policy Institute (IPI).

Readers also get “local” stories often written by freelancers thousands of miles away who never set foot in Illinois. And, even though the conservative network promises transparency, some funding is shrouded in dark, unreported money.

Go read the whole thing.

* There’s also an accompanying graphic

* From a companion piece

Brian Timpone — who runs ICS and the Local Government Information Services newspapers where the stories are published — describes himself as an “entrepreneur focused on developing software and systems that grow and enhance media.”

Timpone said in an interview that distant reporters are better and fairer than those who live in the community.

“The reason local news reporting is so crappy is because the reporters are too local. You don’t want them to live in the communities…. If you have [a reporter who has] done city councils in a city, you are too close.” Local journalists embedded in communities are “ill-equipped to objectively judge information,” he said. “I am partisan to ideas. Free market. Capitalism.”

In 2012 Timpone admitted that his company had made mistakes. This American Life had reported that a freelancer, Ryan Smith, had rewritten content from foreign contributors from the Philippines, who were given fake bylines. Timpone acknowledged the fake bylines were a mistake, although he still claimed the foreign contributors were just entering data, not writing stories.

Some of Timpone’s current journalists say they can’t talk about their duties because they are required to sign non-disclosure agreements. One of those is Chandra Lye, a freelancer from British Columbia. Her byline appeared on a Sept. 19 story in the Metro East Sun headlined: “Belleville area cheers Lisa Madigan’s decision to call it quits.”

Contacted via Twitter, Lye responded with an email, “I have been informed that I am not authorized to discuss the process with you.”

Some reporters discussed their work.

Go read the whole thing.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

57 Comments
  1. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Nov 30, 17 @ 10:17 am:

    Hmm.

    Some might call it “vertical integration”


  2. - wordslinger - Thursday, Nov 30, 17 @ 10:24 am:

    The gang’s all there.


  3. - m - Thursday, Nov 30, 17 @ 10:25 am:

    Wasn’t this remote reporting operation once doing the same thing for the Sun Times or the Tribune as part of a local (suburbs) push? I seem to remember controversy then as well.


  4. - Galena Guy - Thursday, Nov 30, 17 @ 10:28 am:

    Maybe this why Rauner has it in for SIU? (How bout dem dawgs!)


  5. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Nov 30, 17 @ 10:33 am:

    We’ve known this for a long time, thanks to Rich’s reporting. But it is nice to see this all laid out so neatly.

    “Then it’s easy to believe
    Somebody’s been lying to me.
    But when the wrong word goes in the right ear
    I know why you’ve been lying to me.
    It’s getting rough, off the cuff I’ve got to say enough’s enough.”


  6. - Anonymous - Thursday, Nov 30, 17 @ 10:36 am:

    While in the subject of follow the money what is this political fund about and where does it’s money go?

    Follow the money


  7. - Anonymous - Thursday, Nov 30, 17 @ 10:37 am:

    Follow the money whats this group spend its money on

    https://www.elections.il.gov/CampaignDisclosure/CommitteeDetail.aspx?id=qJxToHAMFcTJctOmQmmlrg%3d%3d


  8. - Headdesk - Thursday, Nov 30, 17 @ 10:38 am:

    Lol at Yepsen quote. He’s right.


  9. - cdog - Thursday, Nov 30, 17 @ 10:39 am:

    “Propaganda” is relative, not absolute.

    This is a problem on both sides of the aisle, where money interest control the platforms.

    As a newly red-pilled conservative, I find mainstream media to be easily falsifiable, within minutes, a substantial portion of the time.


  10. - Old and In the Way - Thursday, Nov 30, 17 @ 10:42 am:

    This is just the tip of the iceberg. Lately I’ve been watching some of the local TV news on Sinclair owned stations. Talk about slanted and dishonest! My favorites are the Terrorism Alert Desk, just what small town residents are concerned about, and of course the Bottom Line from Boris…….the days of local nonpartisan news coverage is all but dead in much of Illinois and America I’m afraid.


  11. - Anonymous - Thursday, Nov 30, 17 @ 10:43 am:

    Great, now maybe they can turn their attention to other “news” and their bias and links to heads of PACs


  12. - The Captain - Thursday, Nov 30, 17 @ 10:45 am:

    A group of free-market billionaires and conservatives allied with Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner controls a network of newspapers, radio stations, news sites and policy institutes promoting the governor’s agenda while presenting themselves as independent and free from bias.

    Imagine investing millions into this infrastructure so you could disproportionately influence the electorate and try to wield the levers of power … and then it pays off when you elect one of your own as Governor in a pretty blue state. Only instead of the halcyon days you were expecting what you get is this governor, this administration, this track record of essentially nothing and you’re now faced with the very real possibility that come January 2019 you’ll be entirely shut out of the levers of power once again. That’s an almost insane amount of time, energy and investment put into such a wasted opportunity. No wonder there’s such a hostile civil war taking place now between Rauner, Tillman and Proft.


  13. - Honeybear - Thursday, Nov 30, 17 @ 10:46 am:

    Network of Perfidy propagandists
    Normalizing and promoting
    Corporo-economic fascism
    It’s not promotion of the state
    It’s promotion of the Free Market
    It’s lead not by a dictator
    But a “successful” businessman
    Their idol
    Bruce Rauner

    Matthew 6:24

    Under Rauners banner
    Worshippers of the Free market
    Gather
    To fight
    Public education
    The elderly, disabled and poor
    Police and Fire Departments
    Infrastructure
    Service and supply contracts made by the state.
    And anything they could be taxed for
    Anything which is not for or could inhibit
    That which they worship
    The Free Market


  14. - Pundent - Thursday, Nov 30, 17 @ 10:48 am:

    =As a newly red-pilled conservative, I find mainstream media to be easily falsifiable, within minutes, a substantial portion of the time.=

    Using terms like “mainstream media” is a clear tell on bias.

    I suppose if something conflicts with your view you can easily find a contradictory source. That’s the essence of an echo chamber.

    And attempts to discredit or silence the press are indicative of autocracies not democracies.


  15. - Honeybear - Thursday, Nov 30, 17 @ 10:49 am:

    Nice gaslighting cdog. Excellent example


  16. - Dee Lay - Thursday, Nov 30, 17 @ 10:50 am:

    Ah, back to the good ol’ days when Chris Krug was a respectable journalist…..


  17. - Steve Rogers - Thursday, Nov 30, 17 @ 10:55 am:

    cdog, we can play this game the other way too. I find the conservative media to be easily falsifiable, within minutes, a substantial portion of the time. I also find our governor and president to be easily falsifiable, within seconds, almost all of the time. Shall we keep playing?


  18. - Annonin' - Thursday, Nov 30, 17 @ 10:55 am:

    And this was published BEFORE we learned some national dark money group fighting the Obama SC choice sent a boatload of cash to the Proft front groups.


  19. - cdog - Thursday, Nov 30, 17 @ 10:58 am:

    “Using terms like “mainstream media” is a clear tell on bias.”

    That, sounds very autocratic to insinuate you know my personal thoughts by my use of a common vernacular term.

    I read a lot of sources and approach all sources with a position of disbelief unless they prove otherwise. There’s a lot of good reporting going on out there and there is a lot of junk.

    It is a fool’s errand to assume a fact or story is true or untrue based solely on the messenger. I hope people are smarter than that, but I’ve been seeing a lot of it lately.


  20. - Anon221 - Thursday, Nov 30, 17 @ 11:03 am:

    Political money laundering may be giving some of the big buck donors tax write-offs. Following the money may aid in further reveal of this. Great job by the journalism students on both articles:)

    From the first article:

    Donations to IPI are tax deductible because it is an 501(c)(3) organization under the IRS tax code. To qualify as a 501(c)(3), an organization cannot engage in political advocacy for a candidate.


  21. - Pundent - Thursday, Nov 30, 17 @ 11:03 am:

    =That, sounds very autocratic to insinuate you know my personal thoughts by my use of a common vernacular term.=

    If you’re purposely looking to invalidate what you read in the mainstream media as you’ve admitted, then you’re clearly looking for affirmation of your beliefs and biases. You’ve characterized yourself by your comments.


  22. - Honeybear - Thursday, Nov 30, 17 @ 11:06 am:

    We should also acknowledge that what were once legitimate newspapers are now Rauner tools.
    Unfortunately my local newspaper is one
    Belleville News Democrat


  23. - Because I said so.... - Thursday, Nov 30, 17 @ 11:12 am:

    I am regularly surprised at intelligent FB friends who share some of these heavily slanted stories. I make it a point not to call out friends for their misguided belief of these one-sided stories but I can’t help but get angry at how they are being manipulated.


  24. - cdog - Thursday, Nov 30, 17 @ 11:14 am:

    “purposely looking to invalidate what you read”

    Not quite. If something is falsifiable, it’s not true. It’s a fundamental of scientific method, etc.

    Everyone needs to up there game on analyzing whatever is presented, by whomever.

    How else do you discern what’s fake and what’s true?


  25. - Grandson of Man - Thursday, Nov 30, 17 @ 11:25 am:

    Free market, huh? Rauner profited massively from public employee unions, the blue state model and collectivism. He said so himself when he said private equity was relatively flush with public employee pension funds (at the same time he called them and public employee salaries financial tumors).

    Rauner profited from public employees literally for decades. His supporters don’t care and apparently have no principles. They just want to demolish their opponents.


  26. - Anotheretiree - Thursday, Nov 30, 17 @ 11:31 am:

    The Ministry of Truth from 1984 has been created. It just isn’t a government organization. They out sourced it…


  27. - Norseman - Thursday, Nov 30, 17 @ 11:35 am:

    We’re back to the days where papers were party organs, except now the focus is more on extremist ideology.


  28. - Dr. M - Thursday, Nov 30, 17 @ 11:35 am:

    “If something is falsifiable, it’s not true.”

    Um, no. If something is false, it isn’t true. If something is falsifiable it simply means that it can potentially be refuted, either through direct observation or argument.

    For example, beliefs born out of faith, like stating the existence of God, aren’t typically considered falsifiable (although some try to use artifacts and historical record to verify biblical accounts in an effort to verify God’s existence).

    Scientific claims and theories, on the other hand, are falsifiable. Direct observations, evidence, and experiments are all used to determine if a claim is supported or refuted.

    Is this really so complicated?


  29. - Anonymous - Thursday, Nov 30, 17 @ 11:42 am:

    ==We should also acknowledge that what were once legitimate newspapers are now Rauner tools.==

    And the Sun Times is now a Union tool.


  30. - cdog - Thursday, Nov 30, 17 @ 11:45 am:

    Dr.M, I agree and could have written my premise differently.

    News is falsifiable and should be approached as such.


  31. - TooManyJens - Thursday, Nov 30, 17 @ 11:47 am:

    “Red pill” ideology is propaganda that works because it flatters its victims by telling them they’re the only ones who can see through propaganda.


  32. - Jack - Thursday, Nov 30, 17 @ 11:53 am:

    And yet, those “Rauner News Network” outlets will probably endorse Ives.


  33. - huh - Thursday, Nov 30, 17 @ 11:55 am:

    Brian Timpone’s (un)ethical standards go way back to when he acted like a reporter for WCIA TV while rooming with former Republican Senator then lobbyist, Aldo DeAngelis. It didn’t take long for young Brian to go to work for the House Republicans as spokesman for Lee Daniels.


  34. - Anonymous - Thursday, Nov 30, 17 @ 11:59 am:

    “The reason local news reporting is so crappy is because the reporters are too local. You don’t want them to live in the communities…. If you have [a reporter who has] done city councils in a city, you are too close.”

    Agree totally with this statement, regardless of political leanings. “Reporter” Pam Eggmeier from Sauk Valley Media attended city council meetings at both Rock Falls and Sterling this spring, but failed to report any mention of countywide 911 consolidation with the Whiteside Sheriff.

    Eggmeier “works” for Sauk Valley media, which used to be the locally owned Sterling Gazette, before it was bought out. Maybe these conservative news outlets give the small towns and less populous counties an alternative to shine light on the machinations of the local one-party system run by good old boys and the rotary club mafia.


  35. - DeseDemDose - Thursday, Nov 30, 17 @ 12:01 pm:

    The Tribune is a Billionare funded Rauner tool. The Sun Times is a Working class Union tool. The working class readers paychecks should remind them that the Tribune no longer has their best interest in mind.


  36. - JS Mill - Thursday, Nov 30, 17 @ 12:05 pm:

    =“Propaganda” is relative, not absolute.=

    This statement is untrue. Propaganda is not relative.

    Propaganda is by definition-information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view.

    It can be distributed by any aspect of the political spectrum, but it is not relative.

    Increasingly, the sources referenced in this article are engaging in deception by calling somethings “news” when it is simply furthering a political agenda. That is evidenced by the nature or their “ownership” and sources of financial support which are absolutely partisan and political.

    In addition, for those that scream capitalism and free market it is a bit ironic that they operate off of what is basically charity.


  37. - Phil King - Thursday, Nov 30, 17 @ 12:07 pm:

    How can you credibly pretend Rauner controls the IPI while the IPI, Proft, and their associated networks are all criticizing him so fiercely?

    They like Rauner at one time, before he failed to achieve anything and actually took some actions AGAINST free markets and liberty.

    Guess what, these are well meaning people and they choose their allies based on principles. It’s not the conspiracy you all want it to be.

    Just because someone disagrees with you, doesn’t mean they’re evil.


  38. - City Zen - Thursday, Nov 30, 17 @ 12:36 pm:

    ==The Tribune is a Billionare funded Rauner tool. The Sun Times is a Working class Union tool.==

    So what should the remaining 84% of the population read?


  39. - LXB - Thursday, Nov 30, 17 @ 12:37 pm:

    “Virtually every paragraph is riddled with inaccuracies or distortions.”

    Virtually every time a claim like this is made it is accompanied by zero examples.


  40. - Anon221 - Thursday, Nov 30, 17 @ 12:37 pm:

    “Hit pieces like this don’t make journalism better. They make Illinois worse.”- John Tillman

    Tillman should know, he’s financed and supported plenty in the name of “journalism”.


  41. - Arthur Andersen - Thursday, Nov 30, 17 @ 12:54 pm:

    Takes one to know one, Toolman.


  42. - illini - Thursday, Nov 30, 17 @ 1:03 pm:

    With all respect to John Tillman - I would put Bill Frievogels experience, reputation and character above your questionable journalism credentials any day.

    Not only is Bill an award winning journalist ( St. Louis Post-Dispatch, its Washington Bureau and a Pulitzer finalist ) he is also an attorney.

    It is people like Bill, and those students he is mentoring, who will “make journalism better” not the likes of your brand of journalism.


  43. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Nov 30, 17 @ 1:06 pm:

    The Tillman’s phony belief of who he is, or knowing who he is but chosing to believe otherwise is that Tillman statement in a nutshell.

    It’s either willfully ignorant, blissfully unaware, or so aware that ignoring the hypocrisy is the only play left.


  44. - Pundent - Thursday, Nov 30, 17 @ 1:23 pm:

    =How can you credibly pretend Rauner controls the IPI while the IPI, Proft, and their associated networks are all criticizing him so fiercely?=

    How you ask? Follow the outflows and inflows of money. Everything else is nothing more than window dressing.


  45. - Chicago 20 - Thursday, Nov 30, 17 @ 1:34 pm:

    “Whoever controls the media, controls the mind.”
    - Jim Morrison


  46. - King Louis XVI - Thursday, Nov 30, 17 @ 1:59 pm:

    –One of the golden rules of journalism is to stick to the facts. Unfortunately, a hit piece published by Gateway Journalism Review missed the mark. The authors of this piece set out not to investigate the truth, but to build a case to support a false premise they’d already convinced themselves was true.–

    No sense of irony.


  47. - Try-4-Truth - Thursday, Nov 30, 17 @ 2:00 pm:

    === Our bias — as the authors like to refer to our point of view — is to advocate for policies that empower the people, not the government. ===

    In a democracy, the people ARE the government. Why don’t conservatives understand that?


  48. - Michelle Flaherty - Thursday, Nov 30, 17 @ 2:12 pm:

    – Timpone said in an interview that distant reporters are better and fairer than those who live in the community –

    If the Timpones and Profts of the world are fine with third world child labor manufacturing everything else, why wouldn’t they want it manufacturing our local news, too.


  49. - JB13 - Thursday, Nov 30, 17 @ 2:19 pm:

    –The people are the government –

    Is this statement also true when Republicans win elections, or nah?


  50. - Moderate Condor - Thursday, Nov 30, 17 @ 2:20 pm:

    “There are so many inaccuracies and distortions that I can’t name a single one.”


  51. - RNUG - Thursday, Nov 30, 17 @ 2:22 pm:

    To the update: I notice Tillman didn’t offer any facts or documents to support his statements, which just moves those statements to unsubstantiated allegations. If the story got as many things wrong as he alleges, it should be easy to prove it.


  52. - Try-4-Truth - Thursday, Nov 30, 17 @ 2:25 pm:

    ====–The people are the government –

    Is this statement also true when Republicans win elections, or nah?====

    Of course. Why do you think otherwise?

    Weird…


  53. - MacombMike - Thursday, Nov 30, 17 @ 2:30 pm:

    ===In a democracy, the people ARE the government. Why don’t conservatives understand that?===

    Are you really going to argue that in Illinois? A place where the politicians have found every conceivable way to keep opponents off the ballot? A place where laws have been enacted to protect incumbents?

    Before you even go there, sure, opponents CAN win just like you CAN win the lottery. But that’s completely ignoring the fact that the deck is stacked against you from the start.


  54. - RNUG - Thursday, Nov 30, 17 @ 2:31 pm:

    == the days of local nonpartisan news coverage is all but dead in much of Illinois and America I’m afraid. ==

    -old-, it’s been going downhill ever since the NYT started using unnecessary adjectives …


  55. - Demoralized - Thursday, Nov 30, 17 @ 3:00 pm:

    ==but to build a case to support a false premise they’d already convinced themselves was true.==

    The IPI does a lot of that.

    ==It’s a desire to silence different points of view==

    I don’t think so. It’s a desire to call a spade a spade.


  56. - wordslinger - Thursday, Nov 30, 17 @ 6:56 pm:

    Never understood the “mainstream media” pejorative. Does that mean you get your information from fringe or backwater outlets? That’s a good thing?

    Is Fox News not “mainstream?” They’re primarily chat shows for shut-ins, but they’re the highest rated cable network. What about the Wall Street Journal and New York Post? They’re not mainstream?


  57. - Obama’s Puppy - Thursday, Nov 30, 17 @ 7:42 pm:

    Tillman talking about hit pieces, the hypocrisy drips from his purchased lips.


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* Trump “beating” Lincoln? Well, he wasn’t ever going to take Illinois vote
* Grabber.


* Nursing Home Violations for Second Quarter 2018
* Illinois Department of Human Rights Releases Important New Guidebook for Housing Providers
* Illinois State Fire Marshal announces $2.2 million in grants for fire safety
* Gov. Rauner vetoes SB 2368
* Governor takes bill action

  
* San Diego Comic-Con 2018: all the trailers, updates, and pictures from fandom’s biggest event
* Robin gets dark in the first trailer for DC’s live-action show Titans
* DC’s streaming service will be a one-stop shop for its TV shows, movies, and comics
* On its 50th anniversary, Intel is forced to do less with Moore
* HTC exits Indian smartphone market
* Microsoft says Teams is now at 'feature parity' with Skype for Business
* You need a VPN to stay safe online, and we’ve got one for life that’s just $34

* The worst managers in White Sox history
* White Sox Minor League Update: July 18, 2018
* Former Pioneer inks with White Sox, assigned to Winston-Salem
* Diamondbacks 'stayed engaged,' fell short on Manny Machado ...
* Drew Pomeranz sharp in rehab assignment, giving Boston Red Sox a po...
* Everything that's gone right this year in the White Sox ...
* Five burning questions for the second half of the MLB season


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