Last November I told you how Christopher Rufo, a candidate for Seattle City Council, dropped out of the race due to the intolerance and bullying of Seattle progressives.
Rufo, who describes himself socially progressive and fiscally conservative, dared to attend an event sponsored by a conservative group. That earned him the wrath of local progressives – along with many threats.
From my post last November:
“Christopher Rufo said that he wanted a new way of doing business, a new method — and now he’s already out. On Wednesday, he sent an email out to members of his campaign saying that he’s got to leave. It’s not because he wants to leave; it’s because of the “tolerant” atmosphere in Seattle.
“I had hoped that this would be a campaign of ideas, but I quickly discovered that the activists in this city have no interest in ideas. Since the campaign launch, they have harassed and threatened my family nonstop. I was prepared to take the heat, but unfortunately, they have focused their hatred on my wife and children. They’ve made vile racist attacks against my wife, attempted to get her fired from Microsoft, and threatened sexual violence. They have even posted hateful messages to my 8-year-old son’s school Facebook page. I know that as the race progresses, the activists will ratchet up their hate-machine and these attacks will intensify significantly.”
Last week, Christopher exposed a component of what is really happening with the ideologues in that city: the elites, city leaders and their allies have been coordinating a PR campaign to convince everyone that everything is fine with their homelessness crisis.
From Christopher’s article at City Journal:
“In Seattle, people are losing patience with city leadership over the homelessness crisis, but the frustration is running in both directions: the city’s political, cultural, and academic elites are conducting their own revolt—against the people.
Since the release of Eric Johnson’s documentary Seattle Is Dying, which depicts an epidemic of street homelessness, addiction, crime, and disorder, city elites have launched a coordinated information campaign targeted at voters frustrated with the city’s response to homelessness. Earlier this month, leaked documents revealed that a group of prominent nonprofits—the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Campion Advocacy Fund, the Raikes Foundation, and the Ballmer Group—hired a PR firm, Pyramid Communications, to conduct polling, create messaging, and disseminate the resulting content through a network of silent partners in academia, the press, government, and the nonprofit sector. The campaign, #SeattleForAll, is a case study in what writer James Lindsay calls “idea laundering”—creating misinformation and legitimizing it as objective truth through repetition in sympathetic media.
The key messages of the campaign include a number of misleading claims, including: “Seattle is making progress to end homelessness,” “1 in 4 people experiencing homelessness in our community struggle with drug or alcohol abuse,” and “[62 percent of Seattle voters believe] we are not spending enough to address homelessness.” All three contentions fail to meet basic scrutiny: street homelessness has increased 131 percent over the past five years; King County’s lawsuit against Purdue Pharma admits that “the majority of the homeless population is addicted to or uses opioids” (not one in four); and 62 percent of Seattle voters agree to the statement “we are not spending enough” only when it is directly prefaced in the polling questionnaire by the phrase “other cities of the same size are spending 2 to 3 times the amount that Seattle is and are seeing significant reductions in homelessness”—itself an unsubstantiated claim. (When the same question is presented neutrally, without the framing, support for “we are not spending enough” drops to 7 percent).
Nonetheless, the media have widely circulated or echoed Pyramid’s talking points. “New poll shows the majority in Seattle say we have a moral obligation to help homeless people, and we need to spend more,” declared Seattle Times data journalist Gene Balk. Catherine Hinrichsen, director of Seattle University’s Project on Family Homelessness, published “6 reasons why KOMO’s [Seattle’s ABC affiliate, which broadcast Seattle Is Dying] take on homelessness is the wrong one” in the local magazine Crosscut, arguing that the documentary “conflates homelessness with drug use, mental illness, and crime.” And Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan told reporters that “we have made a lot of progress” and dismissed the documentary as “an opinion piece.” Her office pushed the #SeattleForAll messaging on government social media channels.
Many of the authors and news outlets that published the #SeattleForAll messaging failed to disclose that their work is funded by the same group of foundations that hired Pyramid Communications, and that their content is distributed in direct coordination with Pyramid and the City of Seattle. For example, in her story, Hinrichsen neglects to mention that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is the sole funder of her work at the Project on Family Homelessness; the publisher, Crosscut, does not reveal that the Gates and Raikes foundations are major funders of their operations and their homelessness coverage.”
Christopher sums it up this way:
“The inner workings of the #SeattleForAll campaign tell a clear story: a group of well-funded philanthropies hired a PR firm to produce misleading polling results, distributed them through the city’s main newspaper and other media outlets (many of which enjoy generous donations from those same philanthropies), and then concealed the fact that the messaging was part of a broader campaign coordinated with the city.”
Read his whole story here.
Man, I really wish Mr. Rufo could have stuck it through to become a city council candidate (yet I completely understand why he didn’t). This guy has what is truly lacking in that city: true bi-partisan leadership skills.
Follow Christopher Rufo on Twitter here.