By Tim Graham
Friday’s Washington Post included no story on the House Weaponization Subcommittee’s hearing with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Breitbart’s Emma-Jo Morris on Big Tech censorship. But the front page had an obligatory front-page story on a grand jury investigating Donald Trump and this amazing scandal piece: “Activist Leo aided drive to lionize Thomas: Federalist Society figure uses his sway before and after naming of justices.”
It’s a scandal that Leonard Leo would organize positive publicity about a conservative Supreme Court justice. This is somehow…. unethical? Right under the “See more on A4” tag was a plug for the Senate Democrats passing a Supreme Court ethics bill.
In 2016, positive PR was organized around Justice Thomas serving 25 years on the court. But the year before, the Post was on the organized PR bandwagon celebrating the “Notorious RBG.” They were a part of that, so apparently it wasn’t scandalous. Maybe liberals don’t have to raise money for that when media outlets will do it for free. CNN made a gushy RBG documentary.
Inside the paper was a picture of Leonard Leo at — uh-oh — the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast. Reporters Shawn Boburg, Emma Brown, and Ann Marimow worked hard to imply something dastardly was going on with this Leo campaign for Clarence:
It was not apparent at the time, but the rush of favorable content was part of a coordinated and sophisticated public relations campaign to defend and celebrate Thomas, according toa Washington Post examination of public and internal records and interviews with people familiar with the effort. The campaign would stretch on for years and include the creation and promotion of a laudatory film about Thomas, advertising to boost positive content about him during internet searches and publication of a book about his life. It was financed with at least $1.8 million from conservative nonprofit groups steered by the judicial activist Leonard Leo, the examination found.
This fervent burst of investigative journalism continued to the entire page (no ads) of A-4. Friday’s Post also had a celebratory front-pager on “A new pipeline for abortion pills.” That continued to the entire page of A-6. That is a natural match for the anti-Thomas business.
A decent chunk of this article report on how Thomas friend Mark Paoletta was paid to attack anti-Thomas propaganda like the HBO filmConfirmation, which celebrated Anita Hill. He worked with CRC Public Relations (disclosure: this is also the MRC’s PR firm) to — gasp! — create a pro-Thomas Internet page and they — gasp! — “bought ads from Google to boost favorable internet content about Thomas.”
Then the Thomas boosters organized a pro-Thomas documentary titled Created Equal, made by filmmaker Michael Pack. The Post acknowledges Leonard Leo’s counterpoint that CNN made their RBG film, and that “Participant Media, founded by businessman Jeff Skoll, whose foundation donated millions to left-leaning groups, later acquired and distributed the film.”
When conservative PR is a scandal and liberal PR is just PR, you get the distinct sense that the “Democracy Dies in Darkness” folks really don’t like people organizing an opposing pile of publicity. They called this “a more aggressive approach that sought to sway public opinion through mass media.”
The Washington Post never attempts this?
Editor’s note. This appeared at Newsbusters and is reposted with permission.