The tables were turned on the Michigan Truth Squad Friday when Progress Michigan issued a press release saying ”The Michigan Truth Squad…claims to be independent when that’s clearly not the case.”
The group likely is annoyed that the Squad called a technical foul on a TV advertisement that is running in support of Proposal 3, which would amend the constitution to require that Michigan’s renewable energy standard be raised to 25 percent by 2025.
Progress Michigan notes that the political ad watchdog service is a project of the Center for Michigan, whose board of directors includes DTE Senior Vice President Paul Hillegonds. DTE and Consumers Energy are leading opponents of Proposal 3, and both have contributed funding to the Center for Michigan’s Bridge Magazine.
The Truth Squad’s panel of current and former journalists “claim they are unbiased arbiters, but in reality they’re lining the pockets of their referee uniforms with DTE and Consumers’ cash,” Executive Director Zack Pohl claims in the Progress Michigan release.
The group warns Michiganians to be wary of the Squad’s reports, but doesn’t mention they also called a technical foul on a video ad put out by Proposal 3 opponents.
After fact-checking the ads line-by-line, the Michigan Truth Squad determined that both sides are guilty of exaggeration, omission and half-truths.
John Bebow, president and CEO of the Center for Michigan, noted that information on the Center’s funders is listed on the their website. With a half-dozen proposals on the ballot, the Truth Squad has been fact-checking about two ads per week from all corners of the political spectrum.
“We make it clear to funders that if they engage in political advertising they are fair game for the Truth Squad,” Bebow said in an e-mail to The News. “If that’s not acceptable, we would respectfully return their contributions.”
According to Bebow, the Center for Michigan has turned down money that came with strings attached.
“In those rare situations,” he said, “we’ve said ‘no thanks’ and walked away.”