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Fired for Telling The Truth. Sit. Relax. I Have a Story to Tell You

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The Latter Day Iconoclast takes the subject of journalism very seriously. Every fact must be sourced, attributed, use quotes when possible. Never assume, never surmise, make sure you have sources even when the sources are anonymous.

Never in his 30+ years in journalism has the LDI ever been fired for telling the truth.

Until today.

The Day Truth Hurt Me

Thank you for your participation as an Examiner on Examiner.com. We regret to inform you that we are terminating your status as an Examiner, effective immediately. We received numerous complaints regarding unprofessional behavior and potentially harassing activity by you. Our Terms of Use clearly prohibit such activity. Further, in Section 4c(v) of the "Examiners" Independent Contractor Agreement and License, you agreed that "engaging in actions which could reflect negatively on Examiner.com" was prohibited. Examiner.com notified you that we had received these complaints, however, we continued to receive complaints of such activity after notification. Your account has been deactivated. We appreciate the time, effort and consideration you put into this work.

Unholy
How closely intertwined they are!
Image Created by Bill Schmalfeldt

Unceremoniously dismissed from Examiner.com. A stunning development, since we had resigned from the Examiner after our "boss", Kevin Staunton (kstaunton@examiner.com) informed us that we had crossed some sort of line while writing a story about a filthy little bit of corruption in Wisconsin called "Operation Burn Notice." You can read more about this organization here, since your LDI will be condemned to an eternity in the 9th ring of Hades before he ever gives readers a link to the Examiner again.

What happened to cause my sudden resignation?

Someone from the Operation Burn Notice Facebook page growled to the Examiner legal department. The legal department immediately fired off a missive to the Operation Burn Notice growler, who immediately posted the letter promising to rein the LDI in on their Facebook page. Never in his storied career in journalism has the Latter Day Iconoclast had his genitalia ripped from his body and hand-delivered to the Philistines for them to post on their cork-board. Immediate cause for resignation.

Monday, the LDI got an e-mail from the above named Kevin Staunton asking the LDI to reconsider his position. Being by nature a kind and forgiving individual, the LDI agreed with the condition that the Examiner never do that to him again. Assurances were given, and the LDI went back to writing his stories.

The Agreement That Lasted Less Than 24 Hours

After posting two stories about individuals involved with the slimy Operation Burn Notice operation (as highlighted in a wonderful piece on AlterNet called "Bullies, Liars and Impostors: How Facebook and Go Daddy Shield Scott Walker's Online Guerillas", in which your LDI was mentioned as being instrumental in bringing this gang of online hoodlums to national attention), the Latter Day Iconoclast had the following e-mail exchange with his "boss" at the Examiner.

Bill,

I am yet again, forced to discuss your column after you continued to (1) make your OBN articles personal, rather than talking about what such an organization is attempting to do and its potential implications, and (2) continued to reply in an antagonistic manner within the comments sections / Facebook.

Due to the continued disregard for projecting yourself in a professional manner, I am forced to suspend your access to our publishing platform again.

This was not how I hoped things would work out, but I'm no longer in a position to justify the amount of effort we as an organization have to put in to mitigate the complaints your work is constantly receiving. I wish you well on your blog.

-
Best regards,
Kevin Staunton
Director, Northeast & Mid-Atlantic Regions
p: 303.291.8899

We responded.

Would you be so kind as to tell me just what in God's name you are talking about? Am I not allowed to respond to comments? I don't remember being told I was not allowed to respond to comments.

This leads me into one of two directions, Kevin. Either someone with OBN has b*tched about me to Legal again, and you are shutting me down because you would rather just cave than have the truth be told, or...

I'm getting too close to the truth, and the conservatives at Anschultz/Clarity really do not want the truth being told regarding Scott Walker.

So, this time I am fired. Well, time to go to the press releases, I guess.

This is what you call "discussing"?

I know you can't answer this honestly, Kevin, or your ass would be out the door as well.

My replies in the comment section since my return have been pleasant and friendly. Of course, you've removed the stories, so I have no way to prove that.

I do not recall being told I cannot answer comments.

Therefore, I am left with the impression that the ultra conservative Anschultz/Clarity group is siding with Walker and the Koch Brothers on this, and unless I am dissuaded otherwise, that will be the OPINION I share with others.

Unless you'd care to set me straight.

He responded.

Bill,

You continue to instigate in your comments, continue to make claims without proof...and yes, we continue to field complaints about the accuracy of your articles. Did we not discuss these things?

We have reached the point where it's done. The cost of supporting your column is no longer in our best interests as a company.

Best of luck Bill.
Kevin

We replied.

Here's your chance to tell me where I was inaccurate, Kevin. Where was I inaccurate? Show me where I instigated in my comments. Ready? Go. Cuz I'm not kidding, bro. This really sucks. And if you have an ounce of journalist in you, you KNOW it sucks.

Oh, yes... add one. "What claim did I make without proof," Kevin. Itemize these for me.

1. Which "claim" did I make without proof?
2. How did I instigate in my comments. Which words were instigating. Who determined whether or not they were "instigating?"

Answer these simple questions, Kevin. I will give you the same opportunity to "speak for yourself" that I give the subjects of other stories. Because, Kevin, as of this moment, you and Anschutz/Clarity are the subject of my next story.

Answer the questions, please. Cite examples. Cite how you obtained these examples. Copy and paste from the articles (that you have removed to keep me from defending myself against these baseless charges) to show me these alleged cases of incitement.

Ready? Go!

I will hold off until later this afternoon. But Kevin... brother... once I unleash myself, I stay unleashed.

We had a deal, bro.

Friends, readers, I sit here with a smile on my face. I am not upset. This just proves to me what I believed all along. We were just getting too close to identifying the key players behind the whole Operation Burn Notice thing. The "right people" got through to the legal eagles at the Examiner's corporate office in Denver. The conservative Anschutz/Clarity group no doubt supports the people who are trying to stop the recall of the Koch Brothers favorite cousin, Scott Walker. And I'm just a pesky fly who had to be dealt with.

They "Dealt" With Me

So who is this "Anschutz"? For the answer, we turn to Wikipedia.

As one of the world's richest billionaires, Philip Anschutz has been making a name for himself in the philanthropic community by financially supporting a number of strongly conservative organizations. He was listed on Forbes list of Billionaires as number 123 with a networth of 6 billion in March 2010.

Anschutz has funded a number of ultra-conservative and Christian organizations including the following:

Institute for American Values, which campaigns against same-sex marriage and against single parenting;
Colorado for Family Values, the organization behind Colorado's anti-gay constitutional amendment, Amendment 2, approved by the voters in 1992 and later overturned by the US Supreme Court;
Enough is Enough, whose President and CEO is Donna Rice Hughes (the major figure in the sex scandal that ended the 1987 campaign of Gary Hart, in the Democratic presidential primary), and which claims that it is "Lighting the way to protect children and families from the dangers of illegal Internet pornography and sexual predators"; Morality in the Media, established in 1962 "to combat obscenity and uphold decency standards in the media."

Additionally, Anschutz is a major contributor to the Anschutz Foundation. From 1998-2004, Anschutz has donated a total of $110 million through his foundation. From an initial $4.5 million endowment, the assets of the institution have grown in the past two decades to a $54 million value with $28,035,671 of it awarded through the 5,241 grants which have gone towards pushing humanitarian needs in Colorado. In addition to his contributions towards his family's foundation, Anschutz has donated more than $23 million over the last decade, to the Foundation for a Better Life and the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation.

In recognition of their philanthropic efforts, Phil and Nancy Anschutz were named the winners of the 2009 William E. Simon Prize for Philanthropic Leadership.

Here's how he got his clutches on Examiner.com.

Examiner.com is a media company based in Denver, Colorado, that operates a network of local news websites, allowing "pro-am contributors" to share their city-based knowledge on a blog-like platform, in 238 markets throughout the United States and parts of Canada with two national editions, one for each country.

Examiner.com is a division of Clarity Media Group, with the primary investor being billionaire businessman Philip Anschutz, owner of Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), Regal Cinemas, and other media and entertainment companies. Examiner.com has over 55,000 contributors, commonly referred to on the site as "Examiners."

The company derives its name from Anschultz/Clarity's 2004 purchase of the San Francisco Examiner which had previously owned the examiner.com domain.

Golly. Rich guy like that... wonder if he knows the Koch Brothers.

The now high-profile billionaire brothers, Charles and David Koch, are not only major funders of conservative causes and candidates but also exert significant influence over media outlets and public opinion generators.

In June of 2010, the Koch brothers, who together own the second largest privately held company in America, held a conference in Aspen to plot strategy for the November 2010 elections. The list of attendees was leaked, revealing some interesting ties the Koch brothers have to the mainstream media.

Among the attendees were conservative talk show host Glenn Beck and Washington Examiner political columnist Tim Carney. Also in attendance were Philip Anschutz, owner of the Examiner newspapers and the Weekly Standard, and Charles Krauthammer, a frequent Weekly Standard contributor, as well as representatives of several think tanks that feature prominently in conservative media.

OK, so he's buddies with the Koch Brothers. What's their involvement with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, the subject of the recall effort Operation Burn Notice is attempting to throw a monkey wrench into?

Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker, whose bill to kill collective bargaining rights for public-sector unions has caused an uproar among state employees, might not be where he is today without the Koch brothers. Charles and David Koch are conservative titans of industry who have infamously used their vast wealth to undermine President Obama and fight legislation they detest, such as the cap-and-trade climate bill, the health care reform act, and the economic stimulus package. For years, the billionaires have made extensive political donations to Republican candidates across the country and have provided millions of dollars to Astroturf right-wing organizations. Koch Industries' political action committee has doled out more than $2.6 million to candidates. And one prominent beneficiary of the Koch brothers' largess is Scott Walker.

OK, is Anschutz also involved with Walker?

Well, lookee here. Anschutz donated $10,000 to Walker earlier this year!

But maybe that's just a coincidence.

Or, maybe not.

Last year, at a Koch-organized fundraising meeting in Colorado attended by fellow right-wing billionaires like Steve Schwarzman and Phil Anschutz, attendees discussed strategies for taking down the labor movement. As MSNBC's Rachel Maddow has explained, the right's national anti-union campaign has little to do with budget deficits. Instead, it is about defunding the progressive movement and weakening Democrats in the longterm.

Well. Now it's all starting to make sense. The incident that led to my resignation was just a warning shot. "Quit messing with Operation Burn Notice. Move on to other stories!"

After all, nobody from Denver complained when the LDI's reporting about the "No Hiring Until Obama's Gone" guy led to his being identified as a North Georgia militia leader who is terrorizing the non-militia residents at a northwest Georgia land development, who has since taken down his Facebook page filled with racist, anti-Obama, Islamophobic ranting, and caused him to remove a libelous website attacking two of his opponents in the aforementioned land development.

But this. This was QUITE different. This was some little yapping fly-speck of a journalist nipping at the ankles of people who were doing their best to preserve Anschutz's investment in the governor he and the Koch Brothers purchased lock, stock and barrel, and he was getting close, much too close, to naming - by name - the people behind the Facebook page that was exhorting its readers to intercept and destroy legally-signed petitions, an act which is a Class 1 Felony in Wisconsin, subject to 3-1/2 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Small potatoes to a billionaire like Anschutz, who - like most ultra-conservatives - has a way of making people act against their own self-interest.

But he couldn't have this... this... JOURNALIST, especially one with PARKINSON'S disease, ruining his work. So, after the LDI published two stories this morning spotlighting two of the individuals involved with the Operation Burn Notice page? Zip. Gone. No more problem.

Right?

Wrong.

Coming up next, the story that got me fired from Examiner.com. With screen caps and everything.

Bill Schmalfeldt is the Latter Day Iconoclast. He keeps a weary, weathered eye on the right wing so you don't have to.

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