WFRV Smear Job

By:  Bill Hahn
05/31/2012
       
Green Bay's Channel 5 reporter, Bret Lemoine, standing in front of the headquarters of The John Birch Society in Appleton, Wisconsin. Green Bay's Channel 5 reporter, Bret Lemoine, standing in front of the headquarters of The John Birch Society in Appleton, Wisconsin.

Green Bay's Channel 5 reporting from JBS headquarters in Appleton (Grand Chute), Wisconsin.

An interesting twist in local media relations last night, or lack thereof actually.  Green Bay’s WFRV CBS TV Channel 5 taped a portion of a segment for its 10 PM news broadcast across the street from our building at about 7:30 PM.  Bret Lemoine, the reporter conducting the broadcast, was talking into the camera while it focused on one of our buildings.  We’ll let you decide if what he said was indicative of fair news coverage:

“Koch family members even helped establish The John Birch Society located here in Grand Chute. It’s a political advocacy group that is often described as radically right wing.”
 
The shot was set-up to make it seem rather ominous to viewers with the darkened building in the background across the street after business hours.  You can view it here:
 
It seems the broadcast was giving voice to a group (Brave New Foundation) bent on smearing the owners of Koch Industries, Charles and David Koch.  Koch Industries is one of the world’s largest private employers, based out of Wichita, Kansas.  The Brave New Foundation assembled a propaganda film that uses tactics, strategies and vernacular found in the Occupy movement.
 
In the online written news article, Jesse Lava, campaign director at Brave New Foundation, is quoted as saying, “Add in the fact that the Koch's father was a founder of the segregationist and conspiratorial John Birch Society headquartered in Grand Chute, and there may be no state in the union where the Koch's have done more to undermine the public interest than Wisconsin.”
 
Koch Industries has established a website for “media responses and factual information” at kochfacts.com.  A page is dedicated to refuting the claims made by Brave New Foundation:
 
Mr. Lemoine’s tactic of including JBS in his reporting is indicative of his motive. How does JBS play into this story of Koch Industries? The only connection JBS has is through Fred Koch, who founded Koch Industries.  Mr. Koch served on the JBS National Council (a voluntary, advisory body) from 1959 to 1967.  When he died in 1967, any and all Koch support for JBS died with him. Yet, when the media is intent on smearing the Kochs, it brings in the JBS connection that was severed 45 years ago.
 
An interesting source of the definition about JBS from Mr. Lemoine’s broadcast is from Wikipedia that lists JBS as a “political advocacy group” and “radical right-wing.”  So that’s it?  We’re a political advocacy group often described as radically right wing?  Often described by whom? Usually it’s critics of JBS and those who do not share the mission of JBS: To bring about less government, more responsibility, and — with God's help — a better world by providing leadership, education, and organized volunteer action in accordance with moral and Constitutional principles.
 
As for Mr. Lemoine's description of JBS as "a political advocacy group," The John Birch Society has always had a policy of never endorsing political candidates or political parties, and has a 50-year track record of criticizing officeholders and candidates of both major parties when they fail to adhere to the U.S. Constitution.
 
Mr. Lava’s misinformation can only be described as deliberate.  Anyone researching JBS knows that the organization is not for segregation.  And conspiratorial?  JBS has for decades debunked fact-less conspiracies.
 
The efforts put forth by Mr. Lemoine and his team are less than professional.  We were treated as a business that has something to hide, yet at no time were we contacted by WFRV to comment or as a courtesy to let us know that they would be filming our location.  JBS could certainly have accommodated WFRV, but they chose a rather unethical route.  We’re very disappointed by this and have filed a complaint with the general manager.
 
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