David Sirota Joins Union-controlled Capital & Main

Los Angeles-based “news outlet” seeks national audience with new hire

Capital & Main, a Los Angeles-based non-profit media outlet controlled by a group of labor unions –  including the California Teachers Association and California School Employees Association – has hired David Sirota to lead a new national investigative desk that the organization is launching this summer.

In many ways, the Sirota-Capital & Main marriage is a perfect fit. As I revealed in a post last fall, Capital & Main is essentially a front for organized labor trying to pass itself off as a legitimate news outlet. Their board is packed with representatives from CTA, CSEA, SEIU, as well as other union-funded groups. Capital & Main has also received significant funding from unions, including the California Federation of Teachers.

Some of the unions represented on Capital & Main’s board of directors.

Nevertheless, Capital & Main has consistently failed to disclose their close ties to labor in their reporting, which almost invariably promotes the unions’ talking points. Their education coverage, in particular, has been completely one-sided with incessant attacks on charter schools and other education reforms.

Soon after I published my piece bringing attention to their transparency problems, Capital & Main briefly appended disclosures to their articles, acknowledging that “several of the unions cited or quoted in this series are financial contributors to Capital & Main.” However, those disclosures have since either disappeared or have been tucked away within their stories. \

As for Sirota, while he presents himself as an investigative journalist, he has instead built a reputation as the enfant terrible of the populist left, someone more interested in bomb-throwing than getting his story right. For example, he once praised Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez for bringing about an “economic miracle” in that country, a claim that would no doubt elicit cynical laughter from those now living in the dystopian nightmare that is Venezuela. He also incessantly attacked Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential campaign, while failing to acknowledge his past ties to her primary challenger, Bernie Sanders.

Although these sort of stories play well with the Democracy Now! crowd, his bombastic approach has drawn criticism from mainstream journalism. FiveThirtyEight founder Nate Silver has accused Sirota of “playing fast and loose with the truth” and has called his arguments “self-righteous, accusatory, and oversimplistic.” Meanwhile, Brendan Nyhan, a professor of political science at Dartmouth and contributor to The Upshot at the New York Times, has said Sirota’s “rhetoric makes Bill O’Reilly look subtle.”

Earlier this year, Sirota resigned from his post at the International Business Times, where he had served as a senior writer for the past four years. Before his move to IBT, he was a staff writer at PandoDaily, until he was abruptly fired in 2014 at the behest of the news site’s investors.

I am resigning from IBT/Newsweek. I am proud of my nearly 4 years there, producing serious award-winning investigative journalism under extremely difficult circumstances. I will now be looking for a new opportunity to continue this work. l hope I’ll find it. Thanks to all.

— David Sirota (@davidsirota) February 6, 2018

In January, it was announced that Sirota had been tapped to lead Shareblue Media, an initiative launched by long-time Democratic operative David Brock, which he promised would be “the left’s answer to Breitbart.” But two weeks later, Sirota suddenly backed out of the ShareBlue job after apparently disagreeing with Brock over the editorial direction of the site.

Given his past, perhaps it would have been wiser for Capital & Main to hold off on their hiring announcement until Sirota was officially on the job.


Post-script: 4/16/18

My friend Michael Vaughn reached out on Twitter to share this gem of an article from 2011 when Sirota’s wife mounted an unsuccessful bid for a seat on Denver’s school board. The piece recounts how Sirota ejected a journalist from his wife’s election night party because the reporter worked for Education News Colorado (now known as Chalkbeat), which Sirota claimed was “not a real news organization.” Sirota later defended his action, explaining that Education News Colorado was “a propaganda website with a vested interest in trying to skew media coverage.”

Read the whole ironic story by clicking the link below:




David Sirota bars Education News Colorado reporter from Emily Sirota on election night
Update about the Jimenez-Draper Carson race below. By now, you’ve heard that Anne Rowe and Allegra “Happy” Haynes won seats on the Denver Public Schools board, and that incumbent Arturo Jimenez narrowly claimed victory over reformer Jennifer Draper Carson. As for Rowe opponent Emily Sirota, you won’t read her reaction…
Read the article on westword.com >


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Anonymous
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Anonymous

“Capital & Main is essentially a front for organized labor trying to pass itself off as a legitimate news outlet.” Parallel universe to Stand.

Anonymous
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Anonymous

Clearly a template and rOle model for HB and Stand communications team: “FiveThirtyEight founder Nate Silver has accused Sirota of “playing fast and loose with the truth” and has called his arguments “self-righteous, accusatory, and oversimplistic.” Meanwhile, Brendan Nyhan, a professor of political science at Dartmouth and contributor to The Upshot at the New York Times, has said Sirota’s “rhetoric makes Bill O’Reilly look subtle.””

Wade Stevenson
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Wade Stevenson

You can’t scare me I’m sticking’ to the Union!!!!

Anonymous
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Anonymous

If only the union would represent teachers as a professional guild

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

RVC teachers wanted to remain in the union. After long careers and membership, RVTA closed ranks and refused to let them . So much for local solidarity.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

Not sure where you got this information, but it’s not true.

However, it’s interesting to note that charter schools were first publicly supported by the president of a national teachers union. Now the teachers unions vehemently fight charter schools. Too bad they didn’t embrace them early on; they would potentially have much larger membership and solidarity.

-Editor
Guest
-Editor

You could provide references/links/arguments for your assertion that the information isn’t true. We don’t even know what “information” you’re referring to. But thanks for the comment, anyway.

Anonymous
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Anonymous

Funny – faux progressive private-school loving Standinistas don’t have a problem with private schools and the lack of unions. they also don’t seem to have a problem with private donations to prop up private schools — hear they couldn’t quite come up with enough $$ to privately fund Cascade Canyon staying open. Stand with “truly” public schools — yeah, right.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

charter schools can be unionized. RVC would have been happy to have its teachers be unionized.

Anonymous
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Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

Interesting line in the first article:
“When charter school educators unionize, they gain a voice in decision making at their school…”

At most charter schools, teachers have a very strong voice in decision making without there needing to be a union; it’s baked into the model. In fact, many charter schools, like RVC, were created with teachers having an integral role in the development of their vision. RVC teachers frequently state how much they love their school and the voice they have in its day-to-day functioning. Certainly more so than at most district schools.

Anonymous
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Anonymous

That’s one of the critical things that most people seem to misunderstand or devalue – what it means to a learning community when teaches have real power