Editor’s Note: Of the 176 plays featured in the 2013 Minnesota Fringe Festival, exactly one seems to have drawn the attention of conservatives: The one with the naughty bits in it. “Fashion Risk, Or The Accidental Nudist,” by Natalie Rae Wass, was a cheeky play about growing up in a nudist family and came with clearly-labeled warnings that the play featured naked people. Nevertheless, some conservatives have gone starkers about it because the Minnesota State Arts Board gave a grant of $61,242 to the Fringe Festival — a whopping $347.97 per production.
Tom Steward, of the conservative-funded Watchdog.org, decided to “get to the bottom” of things by exposing this raw rip-off of the public and flogging all these naked liberals. Sheila Regan, who recently has begun contributing to The UpTake, took this revealing look at what’s “behind” the uproar for Twin Cities Daily Planet.
By the way, the Tom Steward who discovered that Nudists Have No Clothes is the same Tom Steward who served as
the press secretary Communications Director for former U.S. Senator Norm Coleman.
…An excerpt from Regan’s story:
… as any Fringe-goer, theater lover or really any arts appreciator will tell you, Steward’s feigned shock that taxpayer money is going toward a festival where one of the 176 plays contains nudity seems silly and downright childish. Has he been to the MIA? Last time I checked there were quite a few naked ladies in there. But no matter how plebeian we find his post, Minnesota artists and lovers would be wise not to ignore him.
While Watchdog may call itself an “investigative news site,” it’s actually the propaganda arm for the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, a nonprofit organization that was started by $2 million in seed money from the conservative Sam Adams Alliance, according to the Columbia Review of Journalism. Watchdog received 95 percent of its 2011 funding from Donor’s Trust, which receives funding from Koch-supported foundations, according to the Center for Public Integrity. Among its Advisory board members are Tucker Carlson and folks from the National Review and the Washington Examiner.
The Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity also was a sponsor of the 2011 American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) Annual Conference, according to sourcewatch.org. Its Executive Director, Jason Steverak, its Vice President of Journalism Steven Greenhut and board member (and North Dakota Republican Representative) Blair Thoreson have all written op-eds defending ALEC. Thorseon, in addition, chairs ALEC’s Communications and Technology Task Force, SourceWatch states.
As you probably know, ALEC is a powerful national organization that creates model bills that can be replicated at the local level all across the country. ALEC has largely been blamed for the Voter I.D. and Stand Your Ground laws that have been passed in various states.
Look, we have free speech in this country, and with Citizens United, there is absolutely no limit to how much money conservatives can throw at these operations. In fact it’s not Watchdog.org or the Franklin Center that bothers me so much. It’s the fact that KSTP ran with essentially the same story, with Watchdog.org as its source, with no explanation of the kind of source Watchdog is.