Public Radio's 'Marketplace' Whitewashes Alinsky; 'Quite a Conservative Guy'

American Public Media (formerly American Public Radio) says that its "Marketplace" program "focuses on the latest business news both nationally and internationally, the global economy, and wider events linked to the financial markets."

Okay. One would expect, given the track record of leftist and communist movements and causes in ruining economies and creating unspeakable human misery, that if "Marketplace" were to do a segment on, say, Saul Alinsky, that it might note his antagonism towards free-market capitalism, and how damaging his "Rules for Radicals" recommendations have been in practice. Instead, those listening to yesterday's Alinsky segment got nothing but pap and misdirection orchestrated by a far-left labor prof:


Why Saul Alinsky matters in the 2012 election

Kai Ryssdal ("Marketplace" host and senior editor): If you've been paying attention to the Republican nomination race, you might have been hearing the name Saul Alinsky a lot lately.

... So we figured it might be good to ask who Saul Alinsky was. Bob Bruno's a professor of labor at the University of Illinois. Welcome.

Bob Bruno: Good to be here.

Ryssdal: So who was Saul Alinsky? Who is, or was this guy?

Bruno: So Saul Alinsky was perhaps the modern founder of community organizing -- working with dispossessed, powerless groups of people very often minority populations, working class populations who needed to organize as a way to bring their voice within the political system. And he created and theorized a way to go about community organizing that spread across the country.

Ryssdal: It sounds to hear speaker Gingrich say it like Saul Alinsky wanted nothing less than armed rebellion and the overthrow of American life. Is that true?

Bruno: No, not even the overthrow of life in Chicago. He actually was quite a pragmatic, quite a conservative guy. He understood being very strategic, very tactful. He understood that at the end of the day all groups had to reach a deal. The idea behind it -- was motivating Alinsky -- was to create a people's organization that could represent average people at the bargaining table. So he really was about compromise but he realized that at the grassroots, people would have to organize to do that.

Ryssdal: So, factoring in political hyperbole, how much sense does it make for Mr. Gingrich to be bringing this up in discussing President Obama and his past as a community organizer? I mean, that's where it's all coming from.

Bruno: Well, it make no sense at all if you're trying to accurately shed some light on the character and the motivating principles on the current president. The president spent a little bit of time doing community organizing but nobody would say that he was a Saul Alinsky. Although Alinsky -- along with many others people -- would have perhaps helped to shape his principles of governance. But if Gingrich is all about trying to rally a politically conservative base to some how tinge the president with some sort of radical ideology, than throwing out into the public domain makes some political sense.

Alinsky was really a conservative. Who knew? Certainly not Alinsky.

I guess you could say he was a Bible-thumper, but in quite a weird way. After all, he admired "the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom - Lucifer." As to whether Alinsky was aligned with the bedrock conservative principle that individuals and families should be left to make their own decisions about their lives, he wasn't: "The greatest enemy of individual freedom is the individual himself."

One could go on forever making mincemeat of the "Marketplace" segment's claims that the Obama administration isn't dominated by Alinsky's beliefs. I'll supply just one small example, which in its own way is as telling as many far more damaging things this administration has done.

In "Rules For Radicals," as quoted here, Alinsky betrayed the fact that he considered half of the American labor movement insufficiently radical, disdainfully characterizing the American Federation of Labor half of what is now the AFL-CIO as "conservative and archaic" because it "clung to craft unionism." The fact is that the AFL's founder, Samuel Gompers, "improved the lives of millions of working men and women ... (and) rightly deserves to be called the greatest friend labor has ever known."

Consistent with Alinsky's contempt for Gompers, the Obama administration's Department of Labor had a paragraph complimentary to the AFL's founder which had been present for at least eight years scrubbed from its web site's "History of Labor Day" page.

But according to Prof. Bob Bruno, "it make no sense at all" to view Barack Obama and his peeps through an Alinskyite lens. What a load of rubbish.

Bruno's faculty page at the School of Labor and Employment Relations (LER) at the University of Illinois carries this quote: "I became a professor because I believe that it is the best way for me to act on behalf of working-class men and women. LER has a long standing and significant commitment to labor studies and the institutions that support collective bargaining." Here are some of the philosophical giveaway titles at his curriculum vitae:

  • A published conference proceeding entitled “Teaching Workers from the Left: Working Class Struggle and the Politics of Power”
  • A book chapter called “Divining Class: How Reducing Distance, Re-defining Authority and Disrupting Myths Can Build Class Consciousness”
  • A journal article, “Lean Production and the Discourse of Dissent: Radicalizing the Shopfloor at Mitsubishi Motors?”

Bruno's CV also shows that he is into the green jobs scam. Among other things, he "organized and chaired a panel session on 'Labor and Green Economic Development' at the Second Annual Green Jobs Summit, March 27, 2009, Kennedy-King College, Chicago, Illinois."

The suspicion here is that the naive folks at "Marketplace" started out thinking that they could do a substantive piece on Alinsky and spin him favorably, but found out upon reviewing his written record that it couldn't be done. One clue supporting my theory is that the window title at the segment's web page is "A Look Into the Life of Saul Alinsky," which is more than a little odd since since the report didn't look at the details of his life at all. Apparently whoever committed to compiling the segment initially then had to scramble to come up with something to fill the time -- so they filled the time with what was a falsehood-based waste of time.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.