Question: When are allegations of foreign sources funding American elections deemed to be deeply troubling and instantly newsworthy?
Answer: When the money is allegedly flowing to Democrats.
And when are the same type of allegations dismissed as perplexing and unbelievable?
Yep -- when the money benefits Republican candidates.
Last week, ThinkProgress made news by reporting that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, committed to spending tens of millions of dollars blanketing television markets with partisan, anti-Democratic ads this year, "funds its political attack campaign out of its general account, which solicits foreign funding." In other words, donations gathered from around the world from foreign corporations are being used by the lobbying behemoth to influence elections in America and specifically, to defeat as many Democrats as possible.
That's big news. Period.
But note how Time's Mark Halperin, speaking on behalf of "elites," moved this week to quickly dismiss the Chamber story [emphasis added]:
Not only is this issue convoluted and far-fetched, but it also distracts from the issues voters care about, frustrating political insiders and alienating struggling citizens (not that many are following such an offbeat story line).
Read that highlighted portion again as the Time scribe downplayed allegations that the Chamber of Commerce is using foreign funds as part of its 2010 blitzkrieg to take down the Democratic Party in November. I'm still a bit shocked that a journalist would dismiss any news story based on the premise that it's "convoluted and far-fetched."
I'm pretty sure Iran-Contra at first seemed "convoluted and far-fetched." And so did Watergate and so did the Valerie Plame story and so did dozens of other big, juicy news Beltway stories over the years. (And even modestly juicy ones, which the Chamber story might qualify as.) Instead Halperin, playing news editor, waves journalists off the Chamber story because it's "convoluted and far-fetched." Oh, and because voters aren't following the "offbeat" story.
And could that be because journalists like Halperin are not covering it?