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Jason Rantz

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Seattle journalist alleges misinformation campaign around homelessness

(AP)

Local journalist claims Seattle area organizations are misleading the public when it comes to the homelessness crisis.

“I dug a bit deeper, because it seemed like, not only did this press release go out, but over the next few weeks after the Seattle is Dying documentary, I saw all these publications — The Seattle Times, in Crosscut, on people’s blogs — all these articles attacking Seattle is Dying and defending the status quo,” Chris Rufo told Jason Rantz on KTTH.

RELATED: King County leaders respond to homelessness TV special

Rufo was an early candidate for city council, going up against Councilmember Mike O’Brien. He dropped out of the race after his family received various racist threats. He now writes for the City Journal. In a recent column, he argues that Seattle area nonprofits and businesses are engaged in a misinformation campaign via the PR firm Pyramid Communications.

“As I dug further, I realized that this is really a coordinated campaign involving all the major players among Seattle’s cultural and political elites,” he said.

“It seems like this press communication that was put out had all of these blatant misstatements, of something that was absolutely laughable,” Rufo said. “Like one of the quotes was ‘Seattle is making progress to end homelessness and proven solutions are working.’ I think anyone who walks around the city of Seattle would say that proven solutions are not working and are actually unproven.

One of these “elites,” as Rufo describes, is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which signed a public letter featuring various other community leaders around King County. The letter was sent to media by Pyramid Communications.

“I don’t think it’s something nefarious that people are colluding for private benefit,” Rufo said. “I think most folks are probably in it for the right reasons. But what you see is that, for example, the Bill Melinda Gates Foundation, the Raikes Foundation, the Campion Advocacy Fund, and the Ballmer Group are funding almost the entire cottage industry around homelessness. So they fund everything from academic programs at Seattle University to all of the main media channels, specifically homelessness coverage at The Seattle Times and at Crosscut. And they’re also funding kind of advocacy policy and nonprofit groups.”

“So there’s kind of this insular world and they’re really highly attached to this world view that what they’re doing is working, that they are kind of bestowing their goodness upon the people of Seattle, and they felt like the Seattle is Dying documentary was such a devastating blow to their credibility,” he continued. “Keep in mind these are folks who have essentially been in charge of homelessness policy for the past decade. And they came back with this huge level of defensiveness trying to poke holes in (Seattle is Dying) trying to discredit Eric Johnson the reporter, and trying to persuade the public to not believe their own eyes, but to trust the experts because they know better than we do and they should still be in charge.”

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