Rob Bluey at the Heritage Foundation blog, The Foundry, has a sad. It seems there’s a conspiracy afoot to malign the good name of his boss’s boss, Heritage President Jim DeMint. Oh no!
Bluey wrote a rather long post recently taking Politico Magazine to task for a story they published by Pema Levy calling Heritage President Jim DeMint “The Most Hated Man in Washington” -a statement which typically garners a great big “Duh” from anyone in Washington. But Bluey and the folks at Heritage are all in a tizzy because Politico didn’t make mention of the fact that several lobbyists quoted in the piece were actually being paid to oppose issues that Heritage supports and to support issues they oppose.
“Steve LaTourette, John Feehery and Brian Walsh toiled in the halls of Congress for years before cashing in for lucrative jobs in Washington’s burgeoning public affairs and lobbying industry,” says Bluey. Of course, we’re sure he would never characterize someone as principled as say, Jim DeMint, as “cashing in.”
“They are also among the most quoted critics of The Heritage Foundation and Heritage Action for America,” he goes on. “Each figuring prominently in a story published this week by Politico Magazine…The story failed to acknowledge that they often are paid to argue against Heritage’s positions on policy issues.”
We see where you’re going with this Bluey. Why do these lobbyists say mean things about Heritage? Cuz they’re being paid to! Also, Pema Levy used to work for Talking Points Memo, which explains why she would help the lobbyists conceal this damning revelation from Politico‘s readers. You know, liberal bias and all. Thus, the whole thing must be a hatchet job -a liberal reporter quoting paid lobbyists to attack a venerable conservative institution -case closed.
But if you think about it, one could use that same argument against Bluey himself. We presume that he is being paid for his writing. Should we conclude he’s only attacking Politico because he’s paid to do it? Or that he has an ax to grind with Levy, or LaTourette, or Walsh because of his conservative leanings?
Maybe. But again, “Duh.” How is it an issue that people who disagree with you get paid to help other people who also disagree with you? It’s called lobbying -it’s what these lobbyists do. It’s what Jim DeMint does. It’s what Bluey, by extension, does.
But the best part of Bluey’s argument is that the only person he can find to criticize Politico is, get this, his own boss! In his entire 1,327 word post, the only one who actually takes issue with the way Politico handled the piece is VP of Strategic Communications for Heritage and Publisher of The Foundry, Geoff Lysaught.
“I can only assume that this article slipped through Politico’s standard editorial process,” Lysaught said. “Allowing a reporter with clear liberal bias to develop a story about the effectiveness of Heritage based largely on the opinions of lobbyists paid to advocate against Heritage’s positions is of dubious journalistic merit.”
But wait, a flack taking issue with an unflattering story written about his org -that has journalistic merit? This may come as a surprise to Bluey -but Lysaught is also being paid to take his positions. We suppose there should probably be a disclosure about that somewhere too…
We won’t presume to say who’s right between Heritage and the lobbyists when it comes to policy or tactics. But we do think its a bit petulant and silly to discount an argument about lobbying -and malign the publication that printed that argument -simply because the people who are making it are lobbyists. Especially if you yourself work for an organization that lobbies.