Your tax dollars at work: NPR working with dark money media to recycle old attack on The Capitolist

by | Sep 18, 2022

 


It’s not clear when, but National Public Radio (NPR) says it plans to broadcast a story about “the rise of The Capitolist” to millions of its listeners across the country. NPR has admitted they are partnering with Floodlight News, a politically activist, left-wing media organization that openly boasts a roster of liberal financial backers.

We chose not to participate in the story, not only because of our concern over the false objectivity and obvious political agenda of NPR and Floodlight, but also because dozens of similar stories about The Capitolist have already been published. This new effort sounds like a regurgitation of previous stories that we’ve already addressed.

In late July, The Capitolist was the focus of a series of misleading stories attacking our business model because we are openly and unashamedly supported by business, policy and political groups who support our mission to tell the stories the mainstream media ignores. Unlike those other media outlets, we do not falsely claim to be objective, but we do claim to be factual. We stand by every story we’ve ever written, and if we make an error, we are quick to address it.

But our business model isn’t the only reason we are taking fire from our legacy media competitors. The other reason they attack The Capitolist is because we consistently challenge them over their false claims of “objective” reporting, we expose their ties to left-wing funders, and we report on their blatant political activism. And they’ve never refuted a single one of our stories whenever we have done so.

Now, along comes taxpayer-funded NPR, in collaboration with liberal activist reporters from Floodlight News, planning to regurgitate much of the same reporting, this time on a national scale.

Most people already know that NPR is partially funded by federal, state and local tax dollars. And that NPR’s audience and news slant is decidedly left-leaning. The group admitted it has taken money for years from George Soros, and its CEO, along with a top fundraiser, were forced to resign after NPR’s board of directors grew tired of undercover videos exposing their leftist political leanings.

The nationally-focused NPR says it wants to report on “the rise of The Capitolist,” even though we’re just a digital news outlet focused exclusively on Florida. Yet they’re doing so with help from Floodlight.

Floodlight who?

Good question. We searched, and although NPR is keenly interested in the financial backers of The Capitolist, we could find no evidence that NPR has ever looked into the financial backers behind Floodlight. It’s not that hard to do, though. Floodlight helpfully posts their donors over $5,000, and a cursory internet search tells the rest of the story.

Naturally, like NPR, Floodlight claims none of their donations influence their coverage. How odd, then, that a “fair and objective” media organization like Floodlight would attract such a homogeneous constellation of liberal activist groups. Here’s a quick sampling of just a few of Floodlight’s donors listed at the bottom of their “about” page:

So, that’s what we’re up against. And here’s how, over the last few weeks, they’ve interacted with us.

The first email inquiry arrived August 29th, from NPR correspondent David Folkenflik, kindly providing a heads up that he was working with some of the fine reporters from Floodlight News to “make sense” of some of the previous reporting done on The Capitolist a few weeks prior (we’ve previously addressed that reporting here). Folkenflik’s inquiry seemed friendly enough – after all, he’s a long-time radio journalist who needs to get people to talk. For a relatively small media publisher like us, an offer to examine “the rise of The Capitolist and the role it plays here in Florida” was a direct appeal to the ego.

Replying to the inquiry that same afternoon, I asked Folkenflik if he was on deadline, and he cheerfully replied he would like to talk “in the coming days.” Yet more than a week elapsed before Folkenflik finally emailed again, this time asking if I was available in the next day or so, but providing no further details. I replied with a series of questions about the nature of NPR / Floodlight’s story:

  • Can you give me more information about the scope of the story you’re working on?
  • Is the Capitolist the sole focus of the story? Or is it broader in scope?
  • Will the story be published digitally and turned into an audio segment for NPR?
  • What is Floodlight’s role in the story?

Folkenflik replied just over an hour later, but didn’t offer any new information, saying only that NPR was “co-partnering” (whatever that means) with Floodlight, and finally admitted that the story would “touch on the nexus of power companies and Florida media.” In other words, the story would be a recycled version of previous, false or misleading claims about The Capitolist, how we fund our operation, and our objectivity.

Two days later, I emailed Folkenflik again, asking him to explain what would be different from the dozen or so stories previously published on the subject, and I asked him to provide me a list of questions so that I could evaluate whether the interview would be worth the time and trouble.

He never replied to that email.

But that didn’t mean he wasn’t doing the story. Over the intervening eight days, Folkenflik and his Floodlight confederates were hard at work trying to get people – including former Capitolist reporters – to talk on the record about their experiences.

Eight days later, Folkenflik finally resurfaced, sending a new email trying to persuade me to talk on the record, even suggesting my participation could “redirect the path of the story.” The email acknowledged my concern that the story doesn’t appear to break new ground, and Folkenflik struggled to explain how it would, finally settling on the idea that it’s new because it would be broadcast to “millions” in NPR’s national audience.

In Folkenflik’s and Floodlight’s email inquiries to others that were obtained by The Capitolist, the emails express repeated interest in our “financial backers” and Folkenflik specifically expressed an interest in The Capitolist’s relationship to Florida Power & Light.

But questions about our advertisers, sponsors and so-called “financial backers” have been asked and answered before. In fact, here’s the exact response I emailed to both the Miami Herald and the Orlando Sentinel on July 22nd, almost two months ago, that remains true today:

I have never pitched nor solicited feedback from FPL executives on any story or business venture, and I have never received a story pitch from any FPL executive outside of typical corporate press releases sent to all media outlets, including the Miami Herald and Orlando Sentinel. 

I have never met, corresponded with, spoken to, nor do I have any relationship whatsoever with the FPL executives you mentioned. 

As the publisher of an independent, for-profit news site dedicated to telling more complete stories than the legacy media, I stand by the facts of every story The Capitolist has written. 

Neither NPR nor its liberal activist “co-partners” at Floodlight have raised a single question about the factual basis of The Capitolist’s reporting. Instead, they clearly intend to use our business model as a means to attack our credibility, and they’ll pretend to do so with “journalistic integrity.” Yet while The Capitolist has always been up front about our center-right, free market, pro-business editorial views, NPR and Floodlight both operate under the false pretense of being objective, non-partisan media outlets. They lie to the public about their objectivity and integrity despite their political agenda and their funding from left wing dark money groups.

For a professional like David Folkenflik, the “rise of The Capitolist” should be a simple and compelling story to tell: we have attracted the financial support of dozens of businesses and organizations over the years because we tell their stories fairly and fully. We don’t hide who we are, and we’re proud of our work.

Sadly, that is not the story that will be told about The Capitolist.

And that’s not the only story that won’t be told, because NPR is going to ignore the story right under their own nose about Floodlight and the vast, lucrative network of liberal non-profits that fund and influence partisan news organizations like them – including the legacy media here in Florida.

Instead, they’ll continue to mislead their audiences with false claims of objectivity, fairness and integrity while attacking organizations they deem a threat to their political agenda.

Simply put, The Capitolist exists and thrives because our legacy media competitors are no longer trusted to tell stories that are fair and objective.

10 Comments

  1. Gary H

    Nothing has ever surprised me with NPR’s claims of being a media outlet that fairly reports on organizations. When you get in their headlights they are as transparent as motor oil and they’re not going to give a rat’s ass about fairness or accuracy. It’s all to please the will of their donors and on that, NPR executes very well.

    Reply
    • Jack T Foster

      You are the pot calling the kettle black.

      Reply
  2. Billy the Kid

    About time you sugar-sucking hacks got exposed.

    Reply
  3. dmmorrison

    The Capitolist is a right-wing propaganda sheet financed by dark money from the right — and it’s attacking National Public Radio, one of the most reliable sources of news left in this fractured country? That’s pretty rich.

    Reply
  4. Daniel Rousseau

    How about an intensive reveal naming the sources of “Dark Money” that supports liberal media and “Dark Money” that supports conservative media. A reader, whether liberal or conservative, needs to know the funding sources that are influencing the so-called facts and opinions being presented.

    Reply
  5. Manuel Alonso

    NPR lost its compass a long time ago. It’s time for Congress to defund NPR and redirect the $ NPR gets to state based law enforcement.

    Reply
  6. Manny V

    Keep doing what you’re doing. That NPR has you in its sights means you’re hitting the target. Your reporting is much appreciated.

    Reply
  7. GD

    All you have to do is read the articles here and obvious it is a right wing hit squad blog that lie for their paymasters.
    And Burgess is the worst of them.

    Reply
  8. M.E. Ter

    Could it be that both organizations (NPR and Capitolist) look for and find real facts to base their stories on? Could some Capitolist stories be written with facts that make liberal-leaning folks look silly? Could NPR produce stories that make conservative folks look silly?

    Are both liberal and conservatives sometimes wrongheaded, manipulative and closed-minded? Sure.
    Certainly we could agree that both sides are sometimes thin-skinned, whiny and unwilling to consider another point of view, right?

    Nah, those other guys are jerks and gonna run the country into the ground. I hate them.

    Reply
  9. jass

    To borrow a phrase from Colbert.. Facts have a well known liberal bias.

    NPR actually does provide balanced reporting, an airing of both sides of the story, and has a long history of integrity and getting the story right. The capitalist does not, and is openly biased in its coverage in favor of forwarding its paid political agenda. The capitalist started arriving in my email (unsolicited) a while back and it was clear from the first few issues that “someone was clearly paying for it”. Thanks to other media outlets for exposing the truth.

    Reply

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