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Monday, May 23, 2005

Former Pew-meister Sean Treglia Joins 'Bloggers Are Just Partisans' Chorus; Tries Rewritng His Knight Center Presentation

Former Pew grantsman Sean Treglia sparked a Blogswarm when his description of a multi-year, multi-million dollar campaign to create the appearance of public support for campaign finance reform legislation was revealed earlier this year by Ryan Sager of The New York Post and Tech Central Station.

More recently, William Schambra of the Hudson Institute wrote a piece (H/T to Win Myers, DemocracyProject.com for the PDF) in The Chronicles of Philanthropy that described that blogswarm and its significance for advocates of greater transparency in the philanthropic community. Let it be noted that Schambra mentioned yours truly in a highly complimentary context. You can read some of my postings on the issue here, here and here.

Now Treglia has a letter in the latest Chronicles responding to the Schambra piece. You should also view Treglia's March 12, 2004, Western Knight Center for Specialized Journalism seminar presentation by clicking here and then scrolling down to the appropriate link.

Be forewarned. If you read Treglia's response to the Schambra article in the Chronicles before viewing the Knight Center video, you may be confused. You may even think two completely different people sharing the name of Sean Treglia are involved.

Trust me, it's one guy but you can judge for yourself which of the following statements accurately convey the substance of Treglia's description for the Knight Center journalists of the pro-campaign finance reform funding effort he helped mastermind:

Here's what Treglia says in his response to Schambra:

"By way of background, it is helpful to summarize the accusations made on the blogs at issue, something Mr. Schambra refers to as mere rhetorical excesses: As an executive at the Pew Charitable Trusts, I led a hidden liberal conspiracy that duped Congress, the President, and the Supreme Court into passing and upholding the constitutionality of campaign-finance reform.
"The conspiracy consisted of a group of eight of the nation's largest and most prestigious foundations, included all of the mainstream media who were silent co-conspirators, and was accomplished through hidden foundation grants to phony groups and organizations.
"As the story goes, I then delivered a secret speech (that just happened to be taped and that was later uncovered by a blogger) in which I describe the details of the conspiracy.
"Suffice it to say the allegations are fiction, not even loosely based on reality. There was no conspiracy, there was no effort to hide anything by anyone at any foundation, the mainstream media did not silently cover up foundation funding of campaign finance-reform initiatives, there is no secret tape, I made no admission, and Congress, the President, and the Supreme Court were not duped.
"The well-documented facts belie such claims: The American public demanded that the broken campaign-finance system be cleaned up and wisely, out of a sense of duty (and probably fearing for their own jobs), Congress listened."

Now, here is a pssage from Treglia's presentation at the Knight Center journalists:

"We had a scare. As the debate was progressing, and getting close, George Will stumbled across a report we had done and attacked it in a column. Some of his partisans were becoming more aware of what we were doing and were feeding him information. He started to reference the fact that Pew was playing a large role in it, that it was a liberal attempt to hoodwink Congress."But you know what? The good news, from my perspective, was that journalists just didn't know the sector, the journalists just didn't care and nobody followed up. There was a panic there for a few weeks because we were afraid the story would grow. But nobody picked it up."

Will we next hear Treglia explain how and why he was doing everything out in the open while simultaneously being scared that George Will was about to explain what Treglia was doing out in the open and why?

And there is this statement from his Knight Center presentation:

"The target was 535 Members of Congress and the idea was to create the impression that a mass movement was afoot, that everywhere they looked people were talking about campaign finance reform."

If the American public was demanding campaign finance reform, why did Treglia think it was necessary to "create the impression" of a mass movement for campaign finance reform? Was the movement invisible?

I dunno know, maybe the first law of logic - that which is A cannot be non-A - is due for revision, thanks to Sean Treglia. But then I'm just a blogger and what do I know. You can make up your own mind.