Monday, November 02, 2009

Who is Behind is a new online-only state politics news site founded by former Baltimore Examiner editor Len Lazarick. The site contains information on Lazarick, who is publishing it, but no information on its backing. Let’s shed some light on that.

Len Lazarick is an experienced political reporter in Maryland. His resume includes stints as a reporter and editor at the Washington Post and the Business Monthly, a business newspaper covering Howard and Anne Arundel Counties. He was the statehouse Bureau Chief of the Baltimore Examiner, which was founded in 2006 and closed in early 2009 by conservative billionaire Phil Anschutz. Lazarick started a couple weeks ago and is seeking office space in the statehouse that is normally accorded to press outlets like the Post, Gazette and Sun.

Lazarick told the Gazette that his site is financed by the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity, a non-profit formed to encourage investigative journalism. We are unable to confirm any affiliation between and the Franklin Center, which does not mention Lazarick or his operation on their site. But’s Articles of Incorporation provide a hint about the company’s backing because they list three officers on its Board of Directors: Lazarick, Daniel L. Gainor and Cathy L. Yost.

Cathy Yost is the co-owner and General Manager of Business Monthly, which has employed Lazarick as a contributor.

Dan Gainor is a former editor at the Washington Times and the Baltimore News-American who is the “T. Boone Pickens Fellow and Vice President of Business & Culture” for the Media Research Center (MRC). MRC describes its mission and origins this way on its website:

The mission of the Media Research Center, “America's Media Watchdog,” is to bring balance to the news media. Leaders of America's conservative movement have long believed that within the national news media a strident liberal bias existed that influenced the public's understanding of critical issues. On October 1, 1987, a group of young determined conservatives set out to not only prove — through sound scientific research — that liberal bias in the media does exist and undermines traditional American values, but also to neutralize its impact on the American political scene. What they launched that fall is the now acclaimed — Media Research Center (MRC).

The MRC, headquartered in Alexandria, VA, began modestly with a handful of employees, a black and white TV, and a rented computer. The first order of business was to organize a research operation second to none. For years, conservatives could only present the anecdotal evidence of liberal journalists’ bias — a question in this interview, a statement in that report. However, anecdotal examples of bias do not prove a liberal agenda. Only through thorough, comprehensive, and ongoing analysis based on quantitative and qualitative research can one document liberal bias in the media.

From a $339,000 initial annual budget, the MRC has grown to be the nation's largest and most sophisticated television and monitoring operation, now employing 60 professional staff with a $10 million annual budget.

The result of the MRC’s work is a mountain of evidence to use in combating the undeniable bias. The key to the MRC’s effectiveness is the ability to prove bias by using scientific studies and word-for-word quotes from the media.

Through the MRC’s successful implementation of the largest, most comprehensive media monitoring operation in the world, the MRC serves as the checks and balances on the Fourth Estate. Through its divisions, programs, and a marketing effort that never rests, the Media Research Center has become an institutionalized machine on the issue of balance in the press.
Gainor works for MRC’s Business & Media Institute (BMI) subsidiary, which describes itself as being devoted to “analyzing and exposing the anti-free enterprise culture of the media.” BMI puts out a steady stream of criticism targeting the “liberal media.”

The missions of MRC and BMI interface very well with the Free State Foundation, where Lazarick serves as a “Visiting Fellow.” The Free State Foundation describes itself as a “Free Market Think Tank for Maryland” and says:

Its purpose is to promote, through research and educational activities, understanding of free market, limited government, and rule of law principles at the federal level and in Maryland. FSF focuses on eliminating unnecessary and counterproductive regulatory mandates, especially those applicable to the communications and other high-tech industries, and on reducing overly burdensome taxes, protecting individual and economic liberty, reforming civil liability laws, and making government more effective, efficient, and accountable.
Len Lazarick is seeking recognition for as a legitimate, objective news source for state politics on par with the Post, Gazette and Sun. If that is his wish, he must answer two questions.

1. What is’s relationship with the agenda promoted by Dan Gainor, MRC, BMI and the Free State Foundation? Are Lazarick and/or his website receiving financial support from any of these entities? Do any of them have input or control over the site’s content?

2. Why does Lazarick not disclose any of these relationships on his website?

The future of as a viable concern depends on how these questions are addressed.

We reprint the company’s Articles of Incorporation below.