Brent Coon's Letter the Beaumont Enterprise
Dear Beaumont Enterprise,
The Beaumont Enterprise, as one of the primary print media voices for the Southeast Texas market, has a long history of integrity and independence which is regrettably eroding with the continued inclusion of the Southeast Texas Record for regular Thursday distribution.
While I am probably passing along something that is already known to your newspaper, The Record is a propaganda rag of the US Chamber of Commerce, and its only real purpose is to distort and malign the tort litigation process and plaintiff law firms. In other words, IT IS A FAKE. IT IS A FRAUD. IT IS A SHAM.
My law firm has been at the forefront of exposing these fake papers, including this one, as well as other propaganda emanating from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on legal issues. This paper originated in Illinois as the The Madison-St. Clair Record (where a number of asbestos cases were filed) , and has propagated like fleas into a number of other markets, again many in areas with significant asbestos litigation. The Southeast Texas Record does not indicate its ownership on the paper. This is because they want the consuming public to be duped into believing it is a real newspaper. They even utilize "cut and paste" advertising from charities and others and often include them without knowledge or permission to make their paper look more "authentic". The reality is that The Record newspapers are a major part of a $50,000,000 annual smear campaign by the well-heeled business interests most often involved in litigation against consumers and workers. That's right. $50 Million Dollars!!! The asbestos industry, the pharmaceutical industry, and the petrochemical industry…folks like our concerned and safety conscious friends at BP, Merck and Dow Chemical.
These select major corporations earmark massive amounts of money to run these fake papers and other misinformation campaigns to change public sentiment against the jury system. They use these phony papers as a front to attack high profile attorneys who are best known for holding these industries accountable. They use false information, flagrantly exaggerated information, and innuendo. They have been caught trying to circumvent court rules which resulted in the courts having to grant new trials, wasting all the time and effort of a jury in a case…. including at least one case right here in Beaumont.
With more advertisers going to electronic media everyone understands the need to recruit new business opportunities. However, the Enterprise is compromising its integrity and risking other liabilities in knowingly recycling the maligning and distorted garbage The Record would call legitimate news. It is an affront to your readership in distributing a phony insert on behalf of these corporations, companies that for the most part have killed and crippled workers and consumers in our area in staggering numbers over the years. Lisa Rickard, the president of the Institute for Legal Reform (which is the wing of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that runs this paper), is a former headhunter and lobbyist from Dow Chemical Company, the corporation which brought us the Bhopal disaster which killed thousands and crippled hundreds of thousands, as well as the proud owner of the largest asbestos mines in the United States. The asbestos from these mines killed and crippled thousands and thousands of hard working Americans, including workers here in Southeast Texas. In fact, their asbestos was still used in products for distribution in Texas even after it was banned in California many years ago for being designated the highest potential risk of death of all products on the market for consumer purchase at the time.
In addition, Ms. Rickard is now also in charge of the right wing U.S. Chamber of Commerce program called "The Workforce Freedom Initiative", designed to run unions into the ground. Again, the Southeast Texas area has a proud union tradition and I frankly do not know why The Enterprise would align itself with such controversial issues and characters. I suspect a lot of people in this area would not read The Enterprise, much less subscribe to it, if they knew that it was sponsoring an insert which not only is a propaganda rag but is run by people who want to put union workers out of their jobs.
Here are some interesting quotes on this very controversial publication, it's ownership and editors:
"Of course I am biased….I am a Republican". Co-owner of The Record publications Brian Timpone on his controversial role in operating a front newspaper for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
"We don’t want anyone to know that this is printed on behalf of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce" . Tom Donahue. President, U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
"The deliberate failure to indicate ownership of these "local papers" by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce introduces serious ethical concerns in journalism". National Press Club Conference, 2012.
The activities of the ownership of The Record is tied to fraud, deceit, misrepresentation and plagiarism. June 2012 article of the Chicago Tribune.
Timpone's outsourcing reporter company, Journatic, busted for using fake bylines. (Columbia Journalism Review, July 2012).
"Timpone is perpetrating the greatest fraud in the history of media". Claire St. Amant. July 08, 2012. (St. Amant is noted as one of Editor and Publishers Top 25 under 35 in the newspaper industry).
"The Workforce Freedom Initiative is to preserve Democracy in America and restrain union activism". U.S. Chamber of Commerce website, 2013.
The fact is that The Southeast Texas Record was opened up in Beaumont, Texas several years ago with the express purpose of trying to impact juror attitudes on civil cases and turn citizens against plaintiffs. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce runs yellow journalism articles sharply critical of plaintiff practice areas and of the leading lawyers involved in such litigation. They intentionally time various " articles" and opinions with cases on the court dockets and give the papers away at the courthouse, in hopes that it will impact a juror's thoughts negatively on any case they are called up to serve on. They also run these articles and then introduce them to mainstream papers on the wire services in hopes that they are picked up as legitimate news sources. Not to mention the fact that they engage in "cut and paste" practices of pulling select articles that they themselves write and publish and then circulate to legislators and others involved in the debate over our legal system. For the Enterprise to support this agenda by extending the boundaries of distribution to the larger audience of readers throughout the area is a sad commentary on the present lack of discipline, leadership and independence this publication has historically enjoyed. BCA has called out The Record for this extensive history of manipulation and disreputable "reporting" and the response has been predictable, to be personally maligned in almost every edition of their paper. Because they are not a legitimate news source, they try to do the only thing left to do if you are a phony, attack people through personal vendettas. it is time to call out The Record, and their phony local editor, Marilyn Tennison, and tell them to take the carpet bagging propaganda elsewhere. At the very least, they should be outed for hiding their agenda behind the inane "local news" stories accounts that are created as cover for their underhanded plans.
Nor are these the only mechanisms of brainwashing the public. In years past, they had other programs scattered around the country, such as the "Citizens Against Lawsuits" program, which allegedly was a grass roots campaign for tort reform but in reality was also exclusively manned and funded by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. These were more along the lines of phony billboards and fliers.
And it's no wonder that Mr. Timpone and Ms. Tennison want to see unions fail as well. In fact, Mr. Timpone's associated company, Journatic, reports content for newspapers around the country faking the bylines on stories through the use of Filipino sweat shop reporters working for pennies a day. They basically reformat and embellish true stories from internet sources and selling it as fresh content to unsuspecting buyers, usually mainstream newspapers. (Columbia Journalism Review, July 6, 2012 edition for reference). Another Hearst owned newspaper, the Houston Chronicle, unsuspectingly relied on these characters for outsourced material and ended up posting an apology to their readers. (see Houston Press, July 03, 2012).
Our firm took issue and action with the jury tampering tactics and maligning stories of The Record several years ago. It involved the trial of a case of victims of asbestos poisoning. Not surprisingly, The Record immediately published some articles negative towards asbestos cases and began handing them out to jurors at the courthouse, hoping they would be unsuspecting of the fact that the stories were printed on behalf of the asbestos companies that help pay for their paper. We caught them and forced a hearing on the matter and to no surprise, they hired a bunch of high priced out of town lawyers paid for by the U.S. Chamber to argue that they had no duty to tell anyone who they worked for or what their motivations where. Do we really want these kind of sleazy operators engaging in such misleading actions? Does The Enterprise choose to continue to align itself with such an organization?
We hope not. Restore integrity to your newspaper.