A writer for Salon.com who claimed without evidence that WND is a “discredited birther website” has been a contributor to a think tank deeply tied to the White House that is funded by billionaire philanthropist George Soros.
A review of Justin Elliott’s writings finds the Salon author routinely engages in political attacks against conservatives. He has also been focused on issues of race while championing reparations for the descendants of slaves.
In a widely circulated piece this week entitled “Trump and Palin’s $2 million birther lie,” Elliott claimed reports that Obama has spent nearly $2 million in legal fees to fend off lawsuits are baseless.
Elliott wrote that the information on Obama’s legal expenses originated at WND, which he called a “right-wing news website that conducts original (and often unreliable) reporting on a variety of conspiracy theories.”
Elliott further called WND “a discredited birther website” that “lacks any evidence” to back up the report on Obama’s legal expenses.
WND Editor Joseph Farah stated yesterday the news site stands by reporting by journalist Chelsea Schilling, who wrote three articles documenting how Obama for America, Obama’s 2008 political campaign, paid international law firm Perkins Coie $1,666,397.01 after the 2008 election.
Perkins Coie and its attorney Robert Bauer, who is now White House counsel, has represented Obama in numerous lawsuits challenging the politician’s eligibility for the highest office.
In his Salon piece, Elliott trivialized the law firm’s involvement by claiming Bauer simply once “fired off a brief letter to an attorney who brought a case questioning Obama’s eligibility to be president.”
The title of Elliott’s piece presents WND’s factual reporting on the amount paid to Perkins Coie as a “lie” and “an obvious logical fallacy.”
Elliott, however, does not conclusively prove with any documentation exactly how the payments to the law firm were used.
Elliott simply cites a Roll Call article quoting DNC National Press Secretary Hari Sevugan as stating: “The campaign has incurred ordinary legal expenses related to the wind-down of its operations and other legal services which all campaigns incur and which are proportional to the unprecedented size of this campaign.”
Elliott’s piece has been used by the Soros-funded Media Matters to dispute claims that Obama spent nearly $2 million to fend off eligibility lawsuits.
Soros group, political attacks, too many ‘whites’
Elliott joined Salon’s staff last July. He previously worked as a news editor for the far-left blog Talking Points Memo.
Elliott’s official bio states he graduated from Brown University, where he served as executive editor and vice president of the Brown Daily Herald. He was an online senior fellow at the liberal Mother Jones magazine, and once worked with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and other publications.
Elliott’s recent articles at Salon seem more like Media Matters-style political attacks than journalism. Recent headlines include “The sharia panic factory,” “NBC helps mainstream Trump’s Birther nonsense” and “Morning Joe slobbers over GOP budget plan”
WND has learned Elliott was a contributor to CampusProgress.org, an online publication that is part of the Center for American Progress. In 2007, Elliott was named “Contributor of the Year” to the Center’s publication.
The Center for American Progress reportedly was founded in 2003 with seed money from Soros, who also donated $3 million to the center’s sister, the Project Action Fund. Its mission states the group is “dedicated to improving the lives of Americans through progressive ideas and action.”
The center is led by John Podesta, a former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton who was co-chairman of President Obama’s 2008 White House transition team.
Podesta and the center have a heavy influence on the crafting of White House policy.
A look through Elliott’s articles at the Daily Herald student newspaper finds the writer has a particular focus on race issues.
In one article, he complains there are too many “white” editors on the staffs of college newspapers.
Without citing any surveys or statistics, Elliott makes the sweeping statement that “college papers are the province of mostly well-off white and Asian students. African Americans and Latinos are underrepresented compared to the student body or absent altogether.”
Later in the article, Elliott admits “no one consistently tracks staffing demographics at college newspapers.”
He conceded his article was largely based on his own conversations with “five of six editors-in-chief of sizable college dailies.”
“Can a college paper composed entirely or mostly of white reporters and editors ever adequately cover communities of color on campus?” Elliott asks.
He continues, “When the campus paper is run by students from a certain demographic, coverage tends to mirror the concerns and perspectives of that demographic . … Of course racial diversity is only one objective that college newspapers must pursue.”
In another piece, Elliott championed a controversial program by Brown University President Ruth Simmons to investigate Brown’s ties to slavery while making a serious study of the issue of reparations for slavery.
With research by Brenda J. Elliott