Have You Seen This Man? Hours after Justice O'Connor announced her retirement, The San Francisco Chronicle ran a story featuring quotes from two prominent U.S. Senators, a well-known legal scholar, and a guy named Gary Marx. According to this guy...
Have You Seen This Man?
Hours after Justice O'Connor announced her retirement, The San Francisco Chronicle ran a story featuring quotes from two prominent U.S. Senators, a well-known legal scholar, and a guy named Gary Marx. According to this guy Gary Marx:
"When the president was re-elected, the American people clearly gave him a mandate on a number of issues, and one was the type of judges that he should nominate,'' said Gary Marx, executive director of the Judicial Confirmation Network, a grassroots organization of legal conservatives. "No reason to expect he will break his promise to the American people. We look forward to seeing him nominate someone in the mold of Justice Scalia and Justice Thomas.''
(SF Chronicle, 2 July 2005; go here to read the full article)
OK, so the other sources quote in the article included Senators Diane Feinstein and Chris Dodd (I've heard of them) and a professor of law from UC Berkeley (I've heard of that place). But who the heck is Gary Marx? Anyone heard of him?
Well, according to an organization called The Judicial Confirmation Network, this guy Gary Marx is their Executive Director:
The executive director of the Judicial Confirmation Network (JCN) is Gary Marx. Gary came to the JCN following a stint as a coalitions organizer for the Bush-Cheney 04 national campaign. Before joining the Bush-Cheney team, Gary served as Development Director and lobbyist for The Family Foundation of Virginia. Gary is also president of Principium Consulting a public policy and public affairs consulting firm.
In other words: This guy Gary Marx is part of the Republican propaganda machine funded to push the President's talking points.
The Leadership Institute, a training camp for people who dream of becoming pundits and organizers for the GOP, fills in the rest of the picture (I've emphasized a few of the important parts):
As the President of Principium Consulting, Gary Marx has a variety of political and organizational experiences which help him serve his clients. He is currently working as the Executive Director for the Judicial Confirmation Network which seeks to build support for President Bush’s Supreme Court nominees.
Gary came to be a leader in the upcoming judicial battles after a posting at the Bush-Cheney '04 National campaign headquarters where he spearheaded outreach to conservatives for the campaign. In particular, his coalitions program helped increase the President’s social conservative vote, or the “values voters,” to 21.3 million ,or 36 percent, of the total Bush vote.
Before joining the Bush-Cheney team, Gary served as Development Director and lobbyist for The Family Foundation of Virginia. While working at this state affiliate of Focus on the Family, Gary helped raise close to $1 million and played a key role in what many observers see as the most successful years ever for pro-family legislation in the Virginia General Assembly.
Before joining The Family Foundation, Gary worked as a political consultant with the firm Century Strategies, headed by Dr. Ralph Reed. His primary client was the George W. Bush for President campaign. His task was outreach to pro-family conservative voters during the primary and general election races.
So, it appears that this guy Gary Marx is a hand maiden for Ralph Reed, leader of the ultra-conservative Christian Coalition movement. And it appears that the only cause this guy Gary Marx has ever really worked for is the cause of electing our current President, George W. Bush.
And on behalf of President Bush, here are the core phrases that Gary Marx is pushing to the media:
- "Fair process" (meaning: "America should never question the President")
- "Highly qualified judges" (meaning: "Judges who will overturn Roe v. Wade")
- "mandate" (meaning: "President Bush can do whatever he wants.")
- "Legislate from the bench" (meaning: "Disagree with radical right")
America does not want to talk about these deceptive ideas. These phrases being pushed by the Judicial Confirmation Network are designed for one purpose only: to prevent this country from having a real conversation about the type of Judges they want on the Supreme Court. President Bush does not want that conversation because he believes that he, and he alone, has the power to make important decisions for the country. And so, the White House is using people like Gary Marx to convince us that anyone who questions the absolute power of the president is un-American.
The Big Appell
But how is it that a guy like Gary Marx ends up being quoted in a San Francisco Chronicle article?
Well, as much as Democrats (me included) would like to imagine a nefarious plot to deceive the public and pass off a fundraiser as an expert, the facts are much less sinister. It seems that the reason Gary Marx made it into the San Francisco Chronicle is because the GOP worked hard to get him there.
According to Marc Sandalow, the San Francisco Chronicle reporter who penned the July 2 article, Conservative viewpoints on issues are located by contacting a publicist representing conservative writers and pundits.
In this case, Sandalow was seeking a conservative viewpoint for his article so he contacted publicist Keith Appell. According to a recent article by Ron Brownstein of the Los Angeles Times, conservative publicist Keith Appell promotes his roster of clients to about 400 conservative talks shows, and that's just radio.
But it wasn't just because Appell has a large network that drew Sandalow's attention. Appell had done right by Sandalow in the past, sending him consistently reliable and professional Conservative sources for other stories.
Even more importantly, on the morning the O'Connor story broke, Appell was already on the ball distributing quotes from Conservative sources to reporters.
A large network, reliable work, professional service, getting your clients' names in front of the press as a top story breaks--this is no conspiracy. It's called organization.
So Sandalow called Appell and asked him if he knew of anyone who could supply a Conservative perspective on the Supreme Court piece he was writing. A short while later, Gary Marx called.
And that's how it's done.
Certainly, there's more back story as to how someone like Gary Marx--someone with absolutely no expertise on the Supreme Court--ends up on Keith Appell's client list in the first place. But the real story here is that Republicans wake up very early in the morning to get their guys on the desks of reporters, the Republicans provide the media with reliable, professional sources, and quotes from their guys end up in articles as a result.
And what about all those publicists working for the Democrats? Did they wake up at the crack of dawn to make sure that every reporter in America had a copy of the Democratic Party's talking points and a list of experts on their desk the second the O'Connor retirement story broke? Did they then email their clients the phone numbers of reporters looking for quotes?
Well, if these Democratic publicists are out there, my advice for them would be this: start setting your alarm clocks a little earlier.
["Thanks!" to Mark Sandalow of the San Francisco Chronicle for his valuable perspective. --JF ]
© 2005 Jeffrey Feldman