Frustrating, that’s what it is. I started covering Foster Friess — albeit unknowingly — in 2007. So, to see that our postmeridian and matutinal media mavens, our profound political pundits, our fulminating famous frothy photonic philologists haven’t even gotten to square one … well, it’s frustrating on YOUR behalf.
fake cowboys are nothing new in American popular culture
… that Friess’ $3 million dollar baby, The Daily Caller is on a media jihad to destroy MediaMatters, just as they have engaged in several other media “hits” — a vile practice that generally dates back to Karl Rove and the Blogosmear taking out Dan Rather over “proportional spacing” — but no media outlet bothers connecting the dots.
There was a purpose to hypertexting the more obscure words above: it is obvious that the news community will need to be spoon-fed, so I’ll spell out the terms for you in instances so clear that even the New York Post* can get it. (Nothing I can do, however, to render it in the Post’s obviously preferred submission format, crayon on Big Chief paper tablet. Sorry.)
[*Ha ha, just kidding. The New York Post would never DARE run this story. Oligarchy Über Alles, and all that, old sport.]
Hell, Lawrence O’Donnell even put up Friess’ stock-broker-in-cowboy-drag picture from his self-fantasized image of himself as a “cowboy” on his ‘personal’ website.
Yeah, when you’ve got maybe $250 million (maybe more or less, since it’s all in stock with Friess Associates, which his son now runs), you can buy yourself a spread in the Grand Tetons (French for “Big Tits”) near Jackson Hole, Wy0ming, the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar and the antler arches in the Jackson town square.
2010 header on his web site
And you can hold 70th Birthday Parties like you were Jay Gatsby, handing out $70,000 checks to your guests’ favorite charities as party favors, and then wallow in the praise, claiming that “Jesus Christ is my CEO” (although his CEO seems to have never told Mr. Tom Gene Mix Autry Rodgers about Matthew 6:2). Oh, and you can pay two bloggers to run your personal blog “The Campfire” full-time.
If you don’t at least suspect that Foster’s fake mea culpa this morning* was ghost-written by one of his amanuenses, you aren’t thinking critically. Fine for a blog reader; deadly for media – whether “new” or traditional.
[* As of 1:42 PM PST, a blank screen appears stating "This Page No Longer Exists." Kind of a shock to the Memeorandum crowd, considering it's the top story right now. SUNDAY: it's back. This was begun on 17 February.]
But let me lay out something that all this “religious freedom” cant is masking: Here’s Foster’s (probably self-submitted) bio from a board that he once served on (The Templeton Foundation, 2001) [emphasis added]:
Mr. Foster Friess Founder of firm that manages approximately $7 billion in equities including the Brandywine mutual funds. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin in 1958, Foster is past president of the Council for National Policy which networks leaders in the U.S. committed to a strong national defense, traditional values, and the free enterprise system. He also founded the Life Enrichment Foundation whose giving is focused on replicating proven, faith-based, inner-city entrepreneurial ministries.
Now, that leads me to my first “encounter” with Friess:
fake cowboys are often seen on television
By Thomas Burr The Salt Lake Tribune
PUBLISHED SEPTEMBER 25, 2007 2:52 AM
Updated 2:33 PM- WASHINGTON _ Vice President Dick Cheney* will speak to a super-secret,conservative policy group in Utah on Friday during his second trip to the state this year. Cheney will address the fall meeting of the Council for National Policy, a group whose self-described mission is to promote “a free-enterprise system, a strong national defense and support for traditional Western values.” The organization — made up of few hundred powerful conservative activists — holds confidential meetings and members are advised not to use the name of the group in communications, according to a New York Times profile of the group….
[* It should be noted that Dick Cheney is Friess' neighbor in the Millionaire Acres clot of the powerful and wealthy around Jackson Hole, as is Cheney's former chief of staff, Neal Patel, who, with his partner, Tucker Carlson, met Friess for lunch and walked away with $3 million in financing for The Daily Caller.]
Romney was asked tough questions about why he allowed Massachusetts to pass a law allowing same-sex couples to marry and the state’s judges to perform the ceremonies. Romney said that he was bound to abide by the state law but took numerous steps as governor to fight for the traditional family.
Vice president Dick Cheney won’t be the only headliner speaking to a secretive conservative policy conclave this weekend. The editor of the Deseret Morning News, former Republican state chairman Joe Cannon, is also on the marquee at the influential Council for National Policy. Though Cannon is a former lobbyist and brother of Congressman Chris Cannon, his attendance in his new role as a journalist at the meeting closed to news media sends up red flags, ethicists say…
Where’s our boy?
And then the Salt Lake Tribune found Foster Friess trying his corn pone “Aw shucks” routine on the Tribunereporter, Robert Gehrke (to whom, kudos):
The Council for National Policy is a shadowy group comprising leaders in the family values, national defense and ”decency” movements, dubbed “Sith Lords of the Ultra-Right” by the liberal blog DailyKos. Members are told not to discuss the group, reveal the topics discussed in the closed-door meetings, or even say whether or not they are members of the organization.
“You’re not supposed to be here,” said a grinning Foster Friess, who was pleasant but steadfast in his unwillingness to talk about the group. An attempted interview with Phyllis Schlafly, founder of the Eagle Forum, was interrupted when a volunteer stepped in front of Schlafly and advised her she didn’t have to talk to reporters and guided the conservative matriarch by the arm to her next event…
The decision has also been reported in an unsigned article by WorldNetDaily, a conservative online news service. “Not only was there a consensus among activists to withhold support for the Republican nominee, there was even discussion about supporting the entry of a new candidate to challenge the frontrunners,” the article said. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, WorldNetDaily’s editor, Joseph Farah, attended the larger CNP gathering.
Joseph Farah, Moderator
Joseph Farah — long-time CNP member — of WorldNetDaily was there and this is what WND reported (without byline) after the CNP meeting (so you can probably guess who either wrote the piece, or phoned it in to WND staff):
Perhaps the most surprising development in the meeting was the floating of an idea to recruit yet another [presidential] candidate to enter the fray. Among the more intriguing names mentioned was billionaire Foster Friess, a major Republican contributor and philanthropist who lives in Jackson, Wyoming.
Limbaugh (l.) celebrates the 1993 release of his book
See, I Told You So, with ghost-writer Joseph Farah (r.)
OK. Let’s skip back even further, to this investigative report by Skip Porteous from 2000:
On October 9, 1999, the secretive Council for National Policy (CNP) held its fall meeting in San Antonio, Texas. Governor Bush was invited to address this influential group. This time precautions were taken to see that no information leaked to the press.
Founded in 1981, under the inspiration of the Rev. Tim LaHaye, and funded by some Texas billionaires, the little-known CNP exists as a networking vehicle for right wing leadership. CNP meetings enable members to become acquainted with one another and plan short-term and long-term strategies. Morton Blackwell, CNP’s executive director, stated that the rules governing the meetings are designed “to allow open, uninhibited remarks from our speakers” (emphasis added).
These remarks are “off the record and not for circulation…” CNP meetings are, in fact, “closed to the media and the general public,” [...] Members are issued special badges which are emblazoned with holograms. Uniformed guards posted at the doors carefully scrutinize each person entering the meeting hall.
The organization’s “confidential” membership is a virtual Who’s Who of the religious and political right wing in the United States. Among the approximately 500 members are: Senator Jesse Helms; Congressmen Dick Armey and Tom Delay; Rich DeVos of Amway; the Rev. Jerry Falwell; Oliver North; Beverly LaHaye; Phyllis Schlafly of the Eagle Forum; the Rev. Donald Wildmon of the American Family Association; James Dobson of Focus on the Family; Gary Bauer, formerly of the Family Research Council, and recent presidential candidate; the Rev. Pat Robertson of the “700 Club” and Christian Coalition; Ralph Reed; and Christian Reconstructionist Rousas John Rushdoony.
Now, the payoff:
CNP Members and Santorum endorsers
(click link for new tab/window and link
NOTE: each line is a SEPARATE link)
* NOTE: I do not know if the Lefevers are related, but it seems too intriguing a coincidence to ignore. CNP has been in business long enough for generational switchover. Also note that Phyllis Schlafly of Eagle Forum is not listed as endorsing, but TWO Eagle Forum state affiliates ARE: Cathie Adams (TX) and Penny Pullen (IL).
And so forth.
Obviously there is NOT a perfect one-to-one correspondence between the signatories and known CNP members … but there doesn’t have to be. The incredible number of members across a decade and more IS meaningful, and its implications are crucial to understanding the Friess kerfuffle and the Santorum surge.
Lawrence O’Donnell on MSNBC used this “cowboy fantasy” shot
from Friess’ website on his show the other night. This blog used
the same shot in 2010, or two years ago….
There is very little doubt that the whole “anyone but Mitt” conclave involved the CORE leadership of CNP, and Foster Friess is NOT a mere lone wolf “billionaire” here. And, the modus operandi (extreme secrecy, etc.) is the SAME.
He’s a spokesman (aspirin between the knees and all) for a sub rosa movement ofttimes called “Dominionism” and to IGNORE this at this point constitutes journalistic malpractice. ‘Nuff said.
An extensive database is here, preserving several lists (pre-internet) of FOIA documents that listed CNP membership going back to the 1980s.
At least, Gentle Reader, you may calm the chills that you might feel running up and down your spine with the sure knowledge that you KNOW MORE ABOUT THIS STORY and Foster Friess now than ANY MAJOR NATIONAL MEDIA OUTLET.
And that is some small measure of comfort.
“Cowboy Jesus” who seems to be their
actual object of worship and veneration
You can find out a wealth of additional information by starting here (with an index of articles at the bottom of the page).
UPDATE 2-25-2012: Leah Burton does a great job of explaining WHERE the two lists linked to above came from: the CNP website itself, which was scrubbed in 2007 (but preserved on the websites linked above).