We’re asking for your help.
The Washington Times has obtained a partial list of “artists and influencers” who were participants on the controversial August 10 National Endowment for the Arts hosted conference call. The following links show images of an excel file of some of those on the teleconference call.:
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The file was provided by a participant on the call who said the list was distributed by Michael Skolnik, an arts activist involved in setting up the call. According to the electronic signature on the spreadsheet file obtained by The Washington Times, the file was created by a Michael Skolnik. We contacted Mr. Skolnik, and he has responded to several different questions with the same statement: “I cannot authenticate the excel attachment you sent to me.” The Times also has a screen capture of an email coming from Skolnik’s account with the file attached.
Huffington Post writer and co-founder of URB Magazine Raymond Leon Roker, told us that while he was invited to participate on the August 10 teleconference call, he was not on the call himself. A number of others on the list contacted by The Washington Times have denied participation in the call, including Jason Hardy, Mitchell Frank, and Sloan Berrent. Some other information on the list seems to be outdated. For instance, Lee Brenner, formerly director of political programing for MySpace, is now involved in a new social media consultancy called FastFWD Group.
Consider this an opportunity to crowd-source the next stage of our reporting. We invite bloggers and other interested readers to check out the names on the list for themselves. Some individuals are more well known than others. We’re looking for solid, well-sourced information we can use to expand our coverage and generate new stories. This is an example. Here are some ideas on what to start with:
Is the information about them accurate/up to date?
Have these individuals been involved in Democratic politics?
Are they campaign donors? To whom?
Since the Aug. 10 confernece call, have any of these individuals been involved in political activism related to health care, environment or education, the subjects suggested by the NEA in the call?
Are they members of any of the 21 arts organizations that endorsed health care reform two days after the call?
Are any of them involved in other arts groups funded through the NEA or through state-level arts agencies funded by the NEA?
Do they have a history of being involved with dubious causes such as 9/11 “Truther” statements?
How many of them have written for The Huffington Post (we’ve noticed a couple)?
When you’ve got something good, stick links to the supporting information in our comments or a post on your blog or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org . We’ll do our best to stay on top of any new information and credit the person who dug it up.
A couple quick things to keep in mind. We’ve already attempted to contact the people on the list, so there is no need to follow in our footsteps. As they respond, we’ll add an updated tally in another post on the Water Cooler. Second, the people on the list are private citizens who were asked to be on a call where a National Endowment for the Arts official went way too far in pushing for artists and arts groups to get behind the administration agenda. The people on the call didn’t neccessarily do anything controversial or wrong. The NEA and the White House are the ones who have gone too far.