Stenographers for Power: MLive and the DeVos Family
Yesterday, MLive once again demonstrated how they acts as stenographers for the local power structure, by using the occasion of a corporate awards ceremony to let members of the DeVos family have an uncontested opportunity to present their own narrative on the history of Amway.
The MLive story focuses on Dick and Doug DeVos, both of whom were inducted into the Direct Selling Association Hall of Fame at an event held in Dallas, Texas. However, Rich DeVos, who was also at the event, was sought ought by the MLive reporter for additional comments about the family business.
There was some mention in the article about how when Rich DeVos was inducted into the same Hall of Fame in 1979, it “came on the heels of an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission into the company’s practices and compensation structure that concluded Amway was not a pyramid scheme.” Beyond this bit of information there in no deviation from the DeVos family and Amway narrative.
The MLive article allows the DeVos family to spin their own Horatio Alger myth about the family’s humble beginnings in their home to a global company that generates billions in annual sales. The DeVos/Amway narrative is best reflected in the headline, which reads, “From clearing plates to leading a company: How the DeVos brothers grew up to change Amway.”
To further demonstrate the stenographic role that MLive played with the DeVos brothers, the article includes a link to 6 video excerpts with Doug and Dick DeVos talking about the business, their dad and ArtPrize. It is impossible to know how the questions were framed, but each of the video responses are very short with no challenging questions from the reporter. In one of the videos, Dick DeVos says that his dad is a person who is quick to offer encouragement and affirmation to people, but does that mean all people or just those he agrees with. I mean, Rich DeVos has demonstrated over the years that he has no problem funding campaigns to suppress opposing views by attacking unions, the LGBT community and supporting domestic and foreign policy that is repressive.
The most recent example is Rich DeVos’ $250,000 contribution to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker for his successful bid to win re-election in a recall effort. MLive did report on the donation by DeVos, but they don’t include any investigation into why the elder DeVos would give such a large sum to Walker, nor do they ask this kind of question when they have his two sons on camera.
The MLive reporter also decided not to pursue any discussion with either Dick or Doug DeVos around the economic and political power they wield in West Michigan. Not that we expect that MLive would do that, but this would be at least be a more honest function of journalism, to actually challenge power.
It would be useful information for the general public for the local news media to make the links between the DeVos involvement in entities like the West Michigan Policy Forum, One Kent Coalition, Grand Action, the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce, the Econ Club of Grand Rapids, the Acton Institute and the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.
It would also be useful for the general public to know more details on what entities the DeVos family has funded over the years, particularly the groups that suppress rights or promote far right values such as the American Family Association or their funding of efforts to privatize public education. Hell, even regular updates on how much money they donate to candidates would be useful information for the public, but this is not what stenographers do. Stenographers don’t ask questions, and when it comes to the DeVos family, MLive might as well by called the Stenographers of Power.