MSNBC Misses the Astroturf in its own Building

While MSNBC seems to be noticing that there are some REALLY creepy things being slipped by them — Politico reporting that the Pat Buchanan’s ‘Hitler’ column is being removed from its website — there’s  more (and WORSE) that they’re still missing ….


Independent Women’s Forum President and CEO
Michelle Bernard as an MSNBC “Political Analyst”

The Koch Machine is flexing its new infrastructure in the health care debate. And, true to their “ME! ME! ME!” roots, they’re probably doing it with healthcare company (not their own) money.


click to enlarge

Certainly they’re dominating the “health care” debate via their astroturf groups. Case in point is that the two main groups opposing health care reform were, ten years ago:

  • Citizens for a Sound Economy Foundation (became Americans for Prosperity),
  • Citizens for a Sound Economy (became FreedomWorks)

Now, another astroturf group has weighed in, a subsidiary of the aforementioned, which Rachel Maddow mentioned Tuesday on Maddow’s MSNBC Show.

  • Independent Women’s Forum

What’s strange is that nobody at MSNBC noticed that the HEAD of the Independent Women’s Forum (a Koch Brothers astroturf group) is an MSNBC Political Analyst, and she’s on Chris Matthews ALL THE FREAKING TIME! Here she is:

msnbc Bernard

And here’s what the IWF paid her as a Konservative Spokesmodel in 2007:

mBernard compensation 07

from IWF’s 2007 Tax Return (click to enlarge)

(They paid her $170,000 in 2006.)

And here is what Maddow said about her IWF astroturf group Tuesday:

‘The Rachel Maddow Show’ for Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Read the transcript to the Tuesday show

updated 6:54 a.m. PT, Wed., Sept . 2, 2009
Guests: Tom Ridge, Terry O‘Neill

MADDOW: […] See, health reform – it‘s a secret plot to kill hundreds of thousands of American women with breast cancer. That ad is being broadcast in a multimillion-dollar ad buy in eight states. It was done by a conservative group called the Independent Women‘s Forum. We called them for comment today. We‘re still waiting for their response.

And as reported by Michelle Goldberg today at the “Daily Beast,” the Independent Women‘s Forum has also sent out a fundraising E-mail covering the same scare tactics territory. The E-mail has the subtle subject line, quote, “More American women are going to die.”

After that, bucket of “O, Fortuna” in the face, the letter begins, quote, “More American women are going to die of breast cancer if you and I surrender to President Obama‘s nationalized healthcare onslaught. Real people might not make it if President Obama inflicts his nationalized health care on America.”

So be afraid, women with breast cancer. Health reform is a secret plot to kill you. Pay no attention to the fact that every major breast cancer advocacy group in the country supports the healthcare reform. The Independent Women‘s Forum wants you to be afraid and also send them a check.

Although you might want to hold off on that. They’re getting a multi-year contract from the US State Department:

IWF grants from US gov't

(Note, I’ve cut and pasted the tax return to save space
click to enlarge)

Funny thing here is that they subcontracted $91,400 of that to the American Islamic Congress in 07:

AmIslamicCong subcont07

click to enlarge

And, equally funny, out of their kitty, they paid $202, 304 in “non-taxable lobbying fees.” Ain’t that grand?

2004-07 lobbying

click to enlarge

In 2006, $661,216 was received by the IWF from the US Government, and 1.3 million from donors.

2006 revenue

click to enlarge

Jeepers. Kind of strange that they’re so latched onto the Government’s teat, considering their mission statement [emphasis added]:

Our mission is to rebuild civil society by advancing economic liberty, personal responsibility, and political freedom. IWF builds support for a greater respect for limited government, equality under the law, property rights, free markets, strong families, and a powerful and effective national defense and foreign policy….

I guess they’re only against government handouts when somebody ELSE asks for them.

So, who are these people, who have so successfully infiltrated the mainstream media, and are suddenly running $2 million in ads attacking health care with bogus breast cancer scare tactics?

According to the Women’s Legal Defense and Education Fund:

Originally formed in 1991 as “Women for Clarence Thomas” in an effort to secure the nominee a seat on the Supreme Court. Just what the Independent Women’s Forum is independent from is unclear — it certainly cannot claim independence from the White House with Vice-Presidential wife Lynne Cheney as Director Emeritus and ultra-conservative pundit and Bush advisor Larry Kudlow as a board member. IWF has even been awarded a grant as part of the US Department of State’s $10 million Iraqi Women’s Democracy Initiative to help a group of Iraqi women leaders define their role in Iraq’s government.

It’s too bad that The Daily Beast‘s Michelle Goldberg didn’t bother getting any deeper than subcutaneous on this. This was the only statement in her Beastly Column that hinted at who these creeps are (the column that Rachel Maddow picked up on ):

The Latest Health Care Lie
by Michelle Goldberg

… The Independent Women’s Forum is closely linked to Americans for Prosperity, a major organizer of anti-Obama tea parties and town hall protests. (According to, the two groups shared the same address and most of the same operations staff until last year). So the effort to link health-care reform to breast cancer death is coming from the same people who’ve previously compared health care reform to the Holocaust. The new tack sounds slightly more reasonable, and it’s developing legs….

Maybe she could have taken more than a nanosecond on her Google search to find Nicole Bell on Crooks and Liars:

Crooks and Liars
Sunday February 1, 2009 12:00 pm
Hardball: Michelle Bernard Doesn’t Think Women Should Worry Their Pretty Little Heads About Pay Equality
By Nicole Belle

Where did Michelle Bernard come from, and why on earth would anyone ask her opinion on the Lilly Ledbetter Act, which President Obama signed into law last week?

The first question is easier to answer. Bernard is President of the deceptively-named Independent Women’s Forum, a thinktank that is neither “Independent” (Prominent members include Kate O’Beirne, Nancy Pfotenhauer, Lynne Cheney and the Podhoretz boys’ wife and mother, Midge Decter. Funding comes from organizations like the Castle Rock Foundation and the Scaife Foundation. Sound independent to you?) nor particularly interested in furthering the welfare of women. In fact, some of their declared stances are against gender equality, like Title IX and the Violence Against Women Act. A curious case of self-loathing that must be given an inordinate amount of airtime, don’t you think?

So, all that air time was wasted in NOT understanding that Americans for Prosperity, the Independent Women’s Forum, FreedomWorks, the Sam Adams Alliance and Americans for Limited Government (and others, including the new American Liberty Alliance, founded by Tea Party founder and former Sam Adams staffer Eric Odom) are ALL intimately tied to the Koch astroturf machine. These foundations breed faster than paramecia in a petrie dish of agar. But the same suspects show up over and over again.

Now, in future columns (although I’d really rather be working on my book) I’ll talk about the attempted takeover of the GOP by the hard-core crypto-Libertarians (who are the TRUE RINOs, having only infiltrated to subsume).

But, I learned something when I was tracking these people down in 2006…

You people are scared of columns more than 1,000 words, so I’ll break it up into bite-sized chunks.

Meantime, you can watch the “Breast Cancer” scare video from the (anything but) Independent Women’s Forum HERE, and ask yourself WHY Larry Kudlow (of CNBC) is on the IWF board of directors.


click to enlarge


Here’s the Independent Women’s Forum tax return for 2007 (.pdf) — for those of you who are actually interested.


Bookmark and Share

About Hart Williams

Mr. Williams grew up in Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas and New Mexico. He lived in Hollywood, California for many years. He has been published in The Washington Post, The Kansas City Star, The Santa Fe Sun, The Los Angeles Free Press, Oui Magazine, New West, and many, many more. A published novelist and a filmed screenwriter, Mr. Williams eschews the decadence of Hollywood for the simple, wholesome goodness of the plain, honest people of the land. He enjoys Luis Buñuel documentaries immensely.
Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to MSNBC Misses the Astroturf in its own Building

  1. Alex Brant-Zawadzki says:

    Here are the so-called grassroots activists behind the American Liberty Alliance:


    -John McJunkin, West Regional Field Director
    * Conservative radio talk show host on RFC Radio
    * “The JunkMan is a life-long conservative with a strong libertarian streak. He engaged in student congress with his high school speech team and served as a legislative intern in the Wyoming state legislature during high school as well. He was an outspoken activist in College Republicans during college, and has become extremely active in conservative politics, particularly from the new media angle, in his home state of Arizona.”

    -David Yardley, Midwest Regional Field Director
    * Political past includes working as Special Events and Projects Manager – Republican Caucus
    * former Chief of Staff – Rep. Mike Nofs Republican in MI house of reps

    -Truman Bean, Southeast Regional Field Director
    * Conservative blogger – As Tennessee’s 2006 senatorial GOP Primary contest began, he joined the blogging community as the primary contributor for Conservatives for Corker.
    * Beginning in December of 2008, he became the Tennessee News Platoon State Editor.

    -Bill Murphy, Director of Strategic Initiatives
    * Also worked at Leadership Institute, “the premier training ground for tomorrow’s conservative leaders; Strategic Advocacy
    * Was affiliated with

    -Ali Akbar, Technology Consultant
    * Republican web/graphic designer, blogger
    * Founder of zine eConservative (
    * “There’s no denying it, Ali Akbar says. When you’re half black and half Arab and at the Republican National Convention, “you stand out like a sore thumb.””

    -Corrine Williams, Communications
    * former Policy Analyst at House Republican Policy Committee
    * former Senior Policy Analyst at the American Medical Association
    * Former legislative asst. for Congressman Adam Putnam

    -Amy Hagerstrom, Director of Operations

    * ‘Leader’ at North Oakland Republican Club (Michigan)
    * PR Manager, Azure Strategies
    * founder of the Michigan chapter of Americans for Prosperity
    * Worked for Ron Paul campaign

    -Allen Fuller, Web Strategy Consultant
    * Republican political strategist, blogger, owns Flat Creek
    * Designed Tennessee Republican Party page for free (

    -Ken Marrero, Director of Grassroots Outreach & Coalitions
    * Helped found Don’t Go movement (Drill, baby, drill) w/ Odom
    * Host of the Don’t Go Show at BlogTalkRadio
    * Staff Writer, New Media Alliance
    * Tea Party organizer

    -Eric Odom, Executive Director
    * Former Republican political activist, now calls himself independent
    * Former employee of Sam Adams Alliance
    * Helped found Don’t Go movement w/ Marrero
    * “One of the three key individuals who worked on the Nationwide Tax Day Tea Party effort and I built most of the online infrastructure that made mass collaboration possible for the campaign.” (

  2. THANK you Alex for this. This is impressive research. You’ve saved me a lot of research time on my series. This goes deep and very ugly.