August 23, 2014

AP’s Matthew Brown Gives 600-Word Story to ‘About Ten ‘Demonstrators’ at Jackson Hole Fed Meeting

The Associated Press’s Top Business News page lists the headlines and opening passages of what the wire service believes are the ten most important business stories at the moment. Its 9:16 a.m. version had a story entitled “JACKSON HOLE DEMONSTRATORS RALLY AGAINST RATE HIKE” listed fifth. Earlier in the morning it was fourth.

Surely, I thought to myself, this must be about a group of at least several hundred to merit this level of attention. Not at all. The opening sentence at Matthew Brown’s Friday afternoon story tells us it was “a group of about 10,” but that one group member somehow got to speak with Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen (bolds are mine):

JACKSON HOLE DEMONSTRATORS RALLY AGAINST RATE HIKE

Shadowing central bankers and economists at the annual Federal Reserve conference here, a group of about 10 demonstrators pressed Fed Chair Janet Yellen not to yield to pressure to raise interest rates.

These demonstrators managed to gain extraordinary access to Yellen and others, and were even promised future access. Additionally, despite their apparently dire personal circumstances, they managed to find the money to make it the remote area in Wyoming to make their feelings known:

Carrying placards and green T-shirts embossed with the slogan “What recovery?” they said they’d come from New York, Missouri, Minnesota and elsewhere to draw attention to people left behind by the recovery and still unable to find work.

One demonstrator approached Yellen to press his point as she prepared to enter the opening reception Thursday night. With security guards hovering nearby, the two shook hands and spoke for about a minute before Yellen entered the closed-door gathering.

Their message was generally in sync with Yellen’s stance since she became Fed chair in February to keep rates low to help support a still-subpar economy.

… The demonstrators, including several who said they were unemployed or had settled for low-wage jobs, said they’d traveled here to encourage Yellen not to give in to those who say rates must be increased to avoid causing high inflation or other financial instability.

The demonstrator who approached Yellen before the opening reception was Ady Barkan of a group called the Center for Popular Democracy in New York.

“She said she understood what we were saying and that they were doing everything they can,” Barkan said Friday. “We’d like them to do more.”

Tillett, the Yellen spokesman, said, “We’re certainly willing to meet with them and hear what they have to say.”

Asked whether there were security concerns in having demonstrators approach Yellen and seek to buttonhole other conference attendees, Tillett said, “We appreciate their freedom of expression.”

That breezy assertion about security is a little hard to take. Given what follows, it’s reasonable to ask if the entire enterprise was staged.

Matthew Brown wrote his story as if the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD) is some kind of brand-new group no one knows a thing about. Of course, it’s not.

What many readers already suspect about the group is true.

Its agenda is far-left. Just few of their items include “economic justice” (i.e., “support for multiple campaigns, including minimum wage, wage theft, paid sick leave”); “advancing immigrant rights” (i.e, “supporting the national campaign for comprehensive federal immigration reform”); and “voting rights” (i.e. working against “restrictive voting laws, criminalization of third party registration, increased barriers to the ballot box,” and stopping “corporations (from) exerting an ever-larger influence on who wins elections”).

Its list of roughly 60 “partners” reads like a Who’s Who of leftist politics. Just a few of them include the AFL-CIO, SEIU, the ACLU of New Jersey, the nation’s two largest teachers’ unions, and the National Employment Law Project.

Another “partnership” indicator is the resume of Marbre Stahly-Butts, who is a “Soros Justice Fellow.”

The organization has been around long enough to be known, and it’s adept at making noise. In December, “The American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Popular Democracy … filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to compel the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) to provide details about the agency’s relationship with the financial industry and its efforts to block municipalities from using eminent domain to prevent foreclosures.”

Ady Barkan, the person who approached Yellen, is the group’s senior attorney. He “provides support for CPD’s economic justice and voting rights campaigns.” In a previous gig, he worked on “regulation of major retailers and unionization of the car wash industry.”

The AP’s Matthew Brown burned through over 600 words, and only described CPD as “a group.” The fact that he did can best described as “a joke.”

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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