Sunday, May 27, 2012

How Yellow Journalism Vilified the Innocent... and How the Left Loved It

Facts, issues be damned -- the far-left is out for blood

Anyone who has ever spent a significant amount of time observing the left -- especially the far-left -- can easily conclude one thing: they don't like getting caught.

The farther left they are, the less they like being caught. And the more virulently they respond when they do get caught.

So when conservatives began to catch onto Tides Canada and its abuses of Canadian tax law to fund far-left political organizations with tax-deductible donations, it was only natural that the far-left's response would be both virulent and impotent.

Naturally, they would dig under any rock in sight in an attempt to identify conservative groups that they could tell people were also breaking the rules, regardless of whether or not those groups were actually breaking the rules. And so they chose the most predictable of targets: the Fraser Institute.

The left has hated -- nay, despised -- the Fraser Institute for years. The Fraser Institute is a continual source of quality research that consistently disagrees with the left. And so, in the narrow mind of every far-left zealot in Canada, the Fraser Institute is a front for the Conservative Party.

Never mind that nothing could be further from the truth; the Fraser Institute has proven to be as much a critic of the Harper Conservatives as of anyone else -- excepting the NDP, with whom the Fraser Institute can be expected to readily disagree.  And for good reason.


But that doesn't matter. The left is desperate to change the channel, to direct attention away from Tides Canada's funneling of money collected under the guise of being a charity into the coffers of political groups which would never be able to pass for a charity under Canada's tax laws -- organizations like PETA, The Tyee, and the Canadian Youth Climate Congress, among others.


The attack on the Fraser Institute began about a month ago, when the Vancouver Observer -- a far-left rag if there ever was one -- reported that the Fraser Institute had received donations from the Koch Foundation. Operated by US billionaires Charles and David Koch, the Koch Foundation has funded various conservative organizations. Often the Koch Foundation does indeed fund open political activity, but in the case of the Fraser Institute -- which engages in no such activity -- they were funding research projects.


Unlike the various left-wing organizations that received funding from Tides Canada, often coming from foreign donors, the Fraser Institute is not an advocacy group. It's a think tank. It does research and puts on events like student seminars. It's goal is to educate the public. Certainly, The Tyee could attempt to make the same claim, but when it received funds from Tides Canada, Tides Canada listed that grant as "Tarsands Campaign" in its tax returns.


If conservatives were scrutinizing the Parkland Institute or the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, perhaps the Fraser Institute would at least appear to be an appropriate target. At least it's actually the same thing as the organizations currently under scrutiny.


It's a predictable response from the left. With the Canada Revenue Agency already auditing Tides Canada, it seems inevitable that Tides Canada is going to lose its charitable status. So instead of examining their own practices and deciding whether or not the money laundering carried out through Tides Canada's charitable status was a good idea, their response is to try to draw some blood: to demand that the Fraser Institute be stripped of its charitable status.


It's childish, but that's pretty much what anyone should expect from these people.


Beyond the childishness of it, it's actually rather astonishing. In the face of the prospect that a far-left financial clearing house is about to lose its ability to help the far-left cheat, their solution is that the Fraser Institute be punished for not having broken any rules. Astonishing.


I've taken it upon myself to ask various left-wingers who complain about the funds the Fraser Institute received from the Koch Foundation just what they think the Fraser Institute has done wrong. Almost invariably they have no answer at all. They mumble something about "hypocrisy", then shuffle off into the twaddle of the Twitterverse where they belong.


But even in terms of "hypocrisy", these are people who just don't get it. They never have. This issue isn't just about taking funds from foreign organizations, but taking funds from foreign organizations and then campaigning to put Canadians out of work. And breaking the rules while they're at it.


It would certainly be interesting to know just what research the Koch Foundation issued grants for, the Fraser Institute has broken no laws, done nothing wrong, and is under no obligation to share that information, even if they probably should.


So enter the Globe and Mail's Gerald Caplan. Clearly frustrated that the Vancouver Observer's yellow journalism has gained absolutely no traction outside of the far-left, Caplan waited a whole month before he reported those "revelations" in his column for the Globe and Mail. For his own part, he took it upon himself to draw up a list of the Koch brothers' perceived sins, and attempt to make the Fraser Institute seem guilty by association. Frustrated with the inability of yellow journalism to turn the tide of public scrutiny in favour of the left and against organizations that have done nothing to warrant that scrutiny, Caplan simply reproduced the same yellow journalism at a larger paper.


It's sad that Caplan can think of nothing better to do with his soapbox than to attempt to villify an organization has done absolutely nothing wrong; sadder still that his editors didn't crumple his column up and toss it into the nearest wastebasket where it belongs -- or at least make judicious use of their delete key.


For their own part, the left can be counted on to wail at the injustice of the Fraser Institute being able to use its charitable status to do the things that charitable organizations in Canada are allowed to do, and retreat into silence when asked precisely what they think the Fraser Institute has done wrong.

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