Media: Misled About "New" National Money In Tennessee
To its credit, this Commercial Appeal story from over the weekend notes in the 2nd graf that national money has long been a part of state and local school board and mayoral races -- in the form of national AFT and NEA contributions. Though they're not given in the story, perhaps the most obvious examples are the Wisconsin recall effort against Scott Walker and the primary contest between Adrien Fenty and Vincent Gray.
But the rest of the story focuses narrowly on the "new" money coming in from StudentFirst and other organizations, and doesn't seem very well contextualized at all. Read lines like this opening line -- "Tens of thousands of dollars poured in from political action committees, essentially allowing anonymous outsiders to shape education policy, long the domain of locals." -- and readers are bound to be misled.
We're never told if the NEA or AFT contributed to the races that are mentioned. We're just told that the StudentFirst money is new, and that it comes from mysterious outsiders. I'm not sure how national AFT and NEA money is any less "outsider" than StudentsFirst money, or whether the union disclosure practices are all that much better than the c4 disclosures. Bottom line? If you're going to talk about campaign contributions, you've got to talk about all of them.