WSJ on a New Chamber of Commerce Campaign

The Wall Street Journal has a scoop today that the Chamber of Commerce is funding a $2 million ad campaign against the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency.

Not exactly shocking, but it’s especially critical to keep an eye on Big Business lobbying efforts—even when it’s lobbying the public. We’ve tried to point out and applaud the press when it has focused on this.

To make it better, the Journal makes it apparent up high that the Chamber, shockingly enough, is aiming to mislead and distort:

But there won’t be any mention of banks or Wall Street or insurance companies.

The first ads running in Washington-area newspapers feature a picture of a butcher with the line: “Virtually every business that extends credit to American consumers would be affected — even the local butcher and the credit he extends to his customers.”

And clearly spells out what the Chamber is doing here:

The Chamber’s goal is twofold: move the spotlight off the unpopular commercial banks and mortgage lenders that are the target of the legislation and muster a roster of more sympathetic opponents.

Though I’m pretty sure the butchers of America aren’t exactly rising up in grassroots anger at a bill aimed at keeping banks from screwing them over. And I’ll guarantee you they’re all for new legislation regulating the significant fees they have to fork over for credit-card and debit-card transactions.

But people can be misled by clever lobbying. See the WSJ’s kicker:

One of the business owners contacted by the Chamber is Terri Mathews, owner of Gumbeaux Events Productions in Shreveport, La.. “While it sounded good to have restrictions on large financial institutions, I didn’t realize at first how they could come in and tell me how I can extend credit,” she said. Ms. Mathews said she plans to call Louisiana’s lawmakers to relay her concerns.

Has America ever needed a media watchdog more than now? Help us by joining CJR today.

Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum.