Koch-founded group recycles misleading video to support union-busting in Ohio

By Stephen C. Webster
Friday, March 18, 2011 13:58 EDT
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A new ad out of FreedomWorks, the political advocacy group funded in-part by arch conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch, rankled critics Friday for recycling footage from a California protest to smear union workers in Ohio.

The ad was part of a larger campaign FreedomWorks is planning, which includes a longer ad than the one slated for Ohio. Their campaign attempts to portray organized labor as violent bullies unwilling to share a national burden — even though Wisconsin unions accepted the governor’s proposed cuts to their wages, hours and benefits.

But the ad’s most divisive moment is footage of a minor altercation that occurred in California, where one man shoved another man twice before police separated the two.

That same clip was called out by Raw Story and other members of the press when it aired on Fox News during a discussion relating to Wisconsin, where host Bill O’Reilly did not properly identify the footage as it aired, implying that the Wisconsin protests were violent.

However, palm trees could clearly be seen in the background, which Wisconsin’s climate isn’t able to support. The flap has led some Wisconsin protesters to begin carrying inflatable plastic palm trees at protests.

It also includes footage of a separate incident where a man at a union protest pushed a camera out of his face. It was treated as some kind of significant ordeal by conservative media, which made him out to be a “violent leftist union thug” who had somehow “assaulted” a young girl.

Turns out the girl was a FreedomWorks volunteer, and she was unharmed.

When the footage of the palm trees surfaced again in the FreedomWorks ad, liberal blog Think Progress was quick to point out the impropriety of using that footage to smear Ohio and Wisconsin workers. Tabitha Hale, FreedomWorks’ media director, pointed out that the video in question was actually an edited version of a larger clip that’s not specific to Ohio.

Judge Maryann Sumi, of Dane County, Wisconsin, issued a temporary restraining order Friday morning that blocked implementation of Governor Scott Walker’s prohibition on organized labor in the public sector. A district attorney had asked for the judge’s review, claiming Republicans were only able to vote on the bill by violating open meetings laws.

This video is from Think Progress, published March 18, 2011.

This video is from FreedomWorks, published March 16, 2011. A longer version was also available.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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