Daily Kos, the Independent Voter Project, and Substantiating Sources

It may seem curious that a website could be accused of being a front for the Republican Party and conservative ideology in one article and then being Democrats and liberals hiding behind the “independent” label in another. For the IVN (Independent Voter Network) editorial team, it is not only a common occurrence, it is a daily occurrence.

IVN is simply an open platform for independent authors to discuss the issues and topics they believe are important or should be important to voters in a civil and productive manner. Often, stories published on IVN go unreported or underreported by the media. Other times, IVN authors simply try to take a step back from the ‘larger’ debate that has been framed by a ‘two-sided’ political landscape.

The content on IVN is governed by a 4-point etiquette not found on any other news site and ensures the network maintains its fundamental purpose. The network features stories and editorials from independent contributors from across the political spectrum because being independent does not mean adhering to a set ideology.

Of course, this idea challenges the traditional partisan way of looking at things. When something doesn’t fit perfectly inside a red or blue box, party politicians, consultants, and talking heads try to force it to fit inside such a partisan narrative because they refuse to see things any other way.

In 2010, for example, the Daily Kos published an article that attempted to ‘expose’ IVN and its co-publisher, the Independent Voter Project (IVP), as ‘frauds.’ Specifically, the author, “Pragmatus,” said all the articles on IVN (then called CAIVN) had a “soft-pedaled GOP/conservative slant to them,” while claiming to be independent. This is exactly the hyperbolic and unsubstantiated ‘reporting’ that IVN is trying to overcome.

The larger problem is that people read things from ‘authors’ like Pragmatus and actually believe it. Worse, news platforms like Daily Kos and their individual authors rarely are held accountable or correct their misinformation even when presented with the facts.

For example, in response to the article by Pragmatus on Daily Kos, one of IVN’s editors at the time, Ryan Jaroncyk, provided facts that contradict Pragmutus’ unsubstantiated conclusions. IVN also sent the Daily Kos a letter (see below) in early 2014 that pointed out the inaccuracies. The letter cites 12 points of false and defamatory information.  But nothing has been corrected of removed from the false attacks contained in the article.

Of note, while the Daily Kos consists of many Democratic supporters and office holders, members of the Republican Party have attempted to expose IVN as “undercover Democrats” for articles they perceive as having a liberal bias.

These accusations come from the misconception that 'independent' must mean 'unbiased moderate.'
These accusations come from the misconception that “independent” must mean “unbiased moderate.” That is, after all, how the media and partisan consultants like to portray independents.

“[W]e believe that even self-proclaimed ‘independents’ are not pure ‘nonpartisans,’” Jaroncyk writes. “Some independents could be considered ‘liberal’ on certain issues, while ‘conservative’ on other issues. Perhaps more accurately stated, ‘independents’ are often multi-partisan and independent-minded in their political make-ups.”

In 2012, the Daily Kos published another article written by R.L. Miller, a Democratic chairperson, which claims that not only does IVP and IVN push GOP ideas, but IVP is a “smokescreen for corporate interests.” Miller goes on to make false claims about IVP throughout the article, including who has donated to IVP, the organization’s activities, and that IVP refuses to disclose its funding sources.

The claims made in the article could easily be discredited with a simple fact check. Here is a detailed explanation of the Independent Voter Project and funding information. Yet, neither author behind these Daily Kos articles were held accountable for their defamatory statements nor were they required to substantiate their claims.

Many people turn to the Daily Kos as an alternative source for credible news and information on the political landscape. As a result, people who may otherwise support IVP or what IVN is trying to accomplish with its open platform are misled by unfounded accusations and blatantly false information that the Daily Kos did nothing to correct.

These accusations try to force organizations like IVP to fit inside the “red vs blue” narrative partisans use to control the conversation. The need for an independent, open platform (like IVN) that looks beyond partisan talking points void of substance and the traditional partisan paradigm is evidenced by the lack of journalistic integrity demonstrated by those who attack it.

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