An important need for a successful business, per experts, is accurate information. Without accurate information, some businesses would over time fail. See the report on that topic, below.
A traditional role of news media is to speak truth to power and to hold those practicing corruptly to account. Who says?
“Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable. Give voice to the voiceless.” – Society of Professional Journalists, Code of Ethics
The significance of the above and what follows will be made clear further below. But part of the importance is that if businesses are relying on sources for ‘good information’ and what they are getting instead is spin or propaganda, that can have negative and harmful implications for a business or investor.
Additional points made by the SPJ in their code of ethical conduct include these:
– Take responsibility for the accuracy of their work. Verify information before releasing it. Use original sources whenever possible.
– Remember that neither speed nor format excuses inaccuracy.
– Provide context. Take special care not to misrepresent or oversimplify in promoting, previewing or summarizing a story.
– Gather, update and correct information throughout the life of a news story.
– Identify sources clearly. The public is entitled to as much information as possible to judge the reliability and motivations of sources.
– Diligently seek subjects of news coverage to allow them to respond to criticism or allegations of wrongdoing.
– Support the open and civil exchange of views, even views they find repugnant.
– Recognize a special obligation to serve as watchdogs over public affairs and government. Seek to ensure that the public’s business is conducted in the open, and that public records are open to all.
– Provide access to source material when it is relevant and appropriate.
– Avoid stereotyping. Journalists should examine the ways their values and experiences may shape their reporting.
– Label advocacy and commentary.
– Never deliberately distort facts or context, including visual information. Clearly label illustrations and re-enactments.
– Never plagiarize. Always attribute.
Those are among the true tests of good journalism. To be sure, there are others. Which manufactured home industry trade publishers meet these criteria?
Let’s consider 3 sources – other than ours – in brief by focusing on those that blogger George F. Allen encourages his readers to stick to and not deviate from. Ironically, many readers here will only learn about these sources by reading here, but we are confident in our research and reports. Are they?
Before diving in, let’s note that this matters, perhaps especially to investors, advocates or lawmakers. Decisions made based upon bad information are more likely to result in a poor outcome. As was said in the early days of computer programing, GIGO. Garbage in, garbage out. The accuracy of information matters. With that preface, let’s dive in.
First, there is MHInsider, which debatably claims preeminence and huge readership numbers.
But when fact-checks have been done that debunked several of their claims: to date, there is not a single known instance of their making a correction of a debunked factual claim. If they can point to one, we’re happy to make that known.
Furthermore, MHInsider doesn’t clearly label that what they are doing as advocating a position. That position is routinely the one held by the Manufactured Housing Institute and their ‘big boy’ backers, such as Berkshire Hathaway brands Clayton Homes and 21st Mortgage Corporation, among others. One of several fact checks of MHInsider, are linked below. When their company leadership and staff were asked to respond or comment on these or prior concerns about their accuracy or claims, there has been no direct response given.
Rephrased, we’ve demonstrably done on MHProNews and MHLivingNews what SPJ’s code of ethics calls for, so why doesn’t MHInsider hold to those same standards?
For marketers, it should be noted that their rates are not only high, but their readership is low, as a careful look at their own data reveals. Disclaimer: let’s be clear. By citing any of these sources, we are not endorsing any of them. Rather, we are making evidence-based comparisons for industry researchers and objective truth-seekers to discern from.
Then, there is publisher Kurt Kelley’s MHReview (MHR). We’ll be brief on Kelley, first citing our fact check on a rather embarrassing report for them, below.
When asked to comment, Kelley said this.
But de facto, what Joanne Stevens, writing in MHR said was logically interpreted as a slam on MHI, because it is MHI who would respond to the type of bad news barrage that has erupted most notably since MHAction published their white paper on manufactured housing communities.
That MHI acknowledges that there is a bad news issue was made clear by their Executive Vice President Lesli Gooch, Ph.D., who penned a long missive for MHInsider. See that in toto and reviewed, linked below.
But as an added and noteworthy ‘ooops,’ Kelley’s publication – which has gone from a monthly to a quarterly – has recently been discovered to have copied an entire article without attribution to the source, and they made only a few modest tweaks. Plagiarism, if that is indeed what occurred, is serious. It is a no-no for professional journalists, as the SPJ’s code of ethical conduct above attests. When asked to comment about the matter, Kelley, who normally replies promptly, declined response. See that review and fact check below.
So far, two out of two trade media publishing competitors to this platform have failed significant tests of accuracy and transparency. Let’s press on, because again, accuracy in information matters to businesses and investors. Readers of some of these other platforms could get a significantly skewed view of manufactured housing, if that is all they were trusting.
What Other Industry Trade Publishers and Bloggers Miss
What MHI’s Gooch, Kelley, George Allen’s “EducateMHC” blog (formerly/also known as “Community Investor” and COBA7) or MHInsider all fail to mention is this key point. When the money-trail from Warren Buffett’s donation are followed, they clearly trace to the Tides nonprofit, which in turn funds MHAction. Buffett buck’s has been a top donor to the left-of-center Tides for years.
Following the money trail is a common journalistic practice. Following the money trail is also the practice of serious investigators, be they public officials or attorneys seeking evidence in pursuit of a case or claim. That being so, why are the others avoiding that prudent journalistic practice? But hold that thought for later, and let’s return to what an issue vexing manufactured housing performance.
Rephrased, Buffett’s and Berkshire Hathaway’s money are on both sides of many controversies in manufactured housing. News sparked by allegations against Clayton Homes, 21st Mortgage, and Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance (VMF)
So, when HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver’s viral hit on manufactured housing errantly dubbed “Mobile Homes” was produced, it included a visual copy of that MHAction white paper.
That white paper, the behavior of Clayton and their lenders, and Frank Rolfe’s MHU classes were the bulk of the reporting by Oliver. What is their common thread? Each firm mentioned had ties to MHI, was an MHI member and/or has ties to Berkshire Hathaway. Ooops. How embarrassing?
How could someone like Allen or MHInsider serious discuss the “State of the Manufactured Home Industry” and not reveal that bombshell information?
Note that there are numerous nonprofits that have arguably been weaponized by Buffett and Berkshire brand connected dough. MHI, MHAction, NextStepUSA, RV MH Hall of Fame, or even Prosperity Now are among the nonprofits that have such direct or oblique ties. Numerous manufactured home state associations are too.
Yes, it takes time to lay out facts and evidence like this. But only by documenting the issues can the various smoke screens that have dogged manufactured housing be revealed.
MHR’s Kelley and MHInsider’s Darren Krolewski having been exposed above, let’s turn to the manufactured home industry’s most enduring publisher, 3 decade veteran, George F. Allen.
“Gaslighting” Says “EducateMHC” COBA7, Community-Investor, George F. Allen
Allen ironically admits what his ‘intimates’ and other sources have previously made clear to MHProNews. Namely, that he is a routine reader on our MHProNews website. In a modest sized industry, that makes him one of some thousands who do so daily. In fairness to Allen or others, any publisher or media worth their salt will spend some time reviewing competitors. Regardless, perhaps it is by reading here where he picked up the phrase “gaslighting” – as MHProNews has used it several times this year.
But let’s hold gaslighting for a bit, and look at something that Allen is quite right to say is a concern. Namely, the following from an October 2019 post by Allen.
“Beware national rent control legislation making its’ way through Congress! It’s written to include anyone owning/operating two or more land lease communities. How to fight this? Belong to and support your state manufactured housing association, and encourage staff to keep you informed, and how you can help fight this national plague!” Note, Allen doesn’t say count on MHI to fight this “plague.”
Consider that in conjunction with this, also from an Oct 2019 post by Allen.
“INTRODUCTION: As an industry, we were ‘asleep at the switch’ when the S.A.F.E. Act was legislated a decade ago.” That’s a far more apt statement, and is de facto aimed at MHI, though Allen fails to logically connect those dots.
Who said? No less a personality than Tim Williams, former MHI Chairman and 21st Mortgage president and CEO, who made that admission during an MHI meeting with dozens in the room. “The horse has left the barn” on that SAFE topic, said Williams to MHI members.
But so too did Nathan Smith point to the associatoin’s failure to head off certain issues. Nathan Smith, is a community operation partner that has been reported on here and by John Oliver’s viral hit video. Smith was a prior MHI Chairman and still holds prominence with MHI’s PAC. Smith said “the industry” – often code words for MHI – had to be honest with itself and had to admit that it had failed to be pro-active. Smith pledges on camera in this video below to change that problem of not being pro-active at MHI. See it all for yourself, because this video makes other revealing statements by Smith as it relates to consolidation.
We’ll come back to that claim by Smith of making MHI into a pro-active trade group again later.
Back to Allen’s missive.
“Let’s not be guilty of similar inattention and inaction as national rent control makes its’ way through the halls of Congress! MHI/NCC. When will your ‘research’ translate into action?”
In fairness to Allen, this is a possible example the value of the principle of separating the wheat from the chaff should be applied. It is indeed an MHI/NCC issue.
But what Allen and others in the industry failed to do is connect the obvious dots that MHLivingNews and MHProNews have. Namely, that the ‘black hat’ behavior that is fostering this call for national rent control often has a common denominator. That commonality is membership in MHI and/or other connections to MHI.
Furthermore, there is evidence that other ‘educators’ – including, but not limited to, Allen’s and SECO teaching legally problematic practices. Who says? An MHI member attorney, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the state of New York, issues that arose out of Georgia, or more recently Indiana, among others.
Allen muses about disparities between MHI and MHARR, IBTS, and himself on the nothing burger of “destination pending” in the Arlington based trade group’s reporting of monthly shipment data. In the big scheme of things, who cares besides Allen? Has MHARR every complained about that minor issue? Why bother, unless it is a head-fake, a shiny object designed to distract from serious issues?
Then, Allen gets to his real rub. It’s our publishing – MHProNews – but he oddly won’t specifically say so.
Said Allen, “Finally; GASLIGHTING. This has been a trade news blemish awaiting attention for a while now. Manufactured housing and land lease community aficionados owe it to themselves, their employees, and customers, to rely solely on reliable trade news reporting of facts and trends, not salacious op/ed posturing by an outlier!”
He devotes an entire section of his post to begging his readers – once again – to not read here, even though he admits he reads MHProNews. The highlighting in his text is by MHProNews, to make his point clear.
…is a psychological tactic, in writing and speaking, used to (attempt to) gain power over someone – or a group, causing them question their perception, reality, sanity, even memory, of how they believe things are and should be. And I suppose, at times, all of us are guilty of this practice, to some degree, as we deign to influence individuals we interact with during business and social intercourse. However, when I (sometimes) read a particular manufactured housing trade publication (Not MHInsider or Manufactured Housing Review), it appears their op/ed penmen go out of their way to gaslight a particular national advocacy entity – one they should be supporting, and various targeted individuals. Point? Be discerning as to what you read, and who you listen to, in today’s fractious world of politics, business, and certainly, manufactured housing. In truth, you’re better off not reading some news tripe, but concentrate on good and uplifting news about the industry and realty asset class we embrace as businessmen and women.”
It’s self-contradictory, but it’s also revealing. In Hungarian, there’s a useful expression that can translated like this. ‘The one making the accusation is the guilty party.’ Ponder that in relation to Allen and company. It is akin to the English expression that the one pointing their finger has three pointing back at themselves.
Gaslighting is a “psychological tactic.”
Note that Allen admits to doing so himself:
- “And I suppose, at times, all of us are guilty of this practice, to some degree, as we deign to influence individuals we interact with during business and social intercourse…” speak for yourself, George, or your buddies in publishing perhaps, but please don’t apply that to us.
- Who does he allege that we at MHProNews are gaslighting? Quoting: “their op/ed penmen go out of their way to gaslight a particular national advocacy entity – one they should be supporting, and various targeted individuals.” First, unlike Allen and company, as the examples above reflect, we alone properly label and document our work. Anyone can follow our research that is motivated to do so. Anyone could follow the bread crumbs, because each report is laid out in a systematic fashion. That’s how fisking or fact-checks work.
- But there is a total disconnect between what Allen warns against – coming national rent control, which he demands that MHI/NCC act to stop, and then warning his readers against MHProNews who is plainly holding MHI/NCC and the industry’s big boys and trade publishing mouthpieces accountable for causing the issues that are heading toward not only problematic actors, but the good actors too.
Rephrased, Allen is all over the map, contradicting himself, and both warning MHI/NCC to do their job while defending them. Go figure, or get on whatever meds GFA is taking, perhaps?
MHProNews and MHLivingNews alone in the industry’s trade media are doing the fact checks that hold the powers that be accountable. Meanwhile the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) produces report where they cite their sources and lay out the facts to be followed too.
As the cherry on top of the dish Allen is serving, he warns readers to use what he calls the acid tests of gaslighting. Ironically, they fit him, not us. It is Allen or others who arguably violate SPJ Code of Ethics.
Is there an acid test to discern gaslighting masquerading as journalism? Yes, three principles of journalism posed as questions:
- Is what you read or hear, the reporting of facts – or just the source’s opinion?
- Check writer/speaker’s resources – or is it past commentary used out of context?
- Is read or spoken word easily understood, by dint of plain style communication?
Not from Allen, but here is more useful definition of gaslighting.
Or this version that we’ve shared previously.
The very publications Allen recommends are the ones that are arguably guilty of gaslighting. It’s a laugh out loud attempt to spin reality. No one links sources, cross links evidence, and goes to the degree of documenting their research in MHVille trade media like MHProNews and MHLivingNews do.
A reasonable hypothesis for the cause of our readership growing despite opposition by MHI, Allen, or others is precisely because our publications do cite facts and give full disclosures.
Our aim is plain. Help the industry identify what is going wrong in manufactured housing, why the industry is underperforming, so that it can what is wrong can be addressed and made right.
These are the types of things that a journalist is supposed to do, hold the powerful to account.
Allen never says what is readership count is, but there are third party reasons to believe it is a tiny fraction of our own. “GFA” is of interest mainly to the degree that he provides a useful ‘over the target’ barometer of how the Omaha-Knoxville-Arlington axis feels about our reports.
As a former client of Allen’s has said, “With George, it’s AAA – All About Allen.” Allen wishes the universe revolved around him, and bowed to him. He fancies himself a king-maker and influence broker, or at least that is how he tries to project, based upon evidence often found in his own blog posts. Quoting GFA to prove the point: “This blog [Allen’s] is the online national advocate, official ombudsman, asset class historian, researcher, education resource & communication media for land lease communities in North America!”
Or in the prior post, he wrote that phrase like this: “This blog [Allen’s] is sole online national advocate, official ombudsman, asset class historian, researcher, PM education resource & communication media for land lease communities in North America!”
Sole? As in the one and only? Within a few lines, he contradicts that by saying there are “…nearly half dozen manufactured housing trade publications afoot these days…” You simply can’t make this stuff up. Nor is there need to, one need but read and carefully fact-check Allen, MHInsider, MHI, or MHR.
The usefulness of Allen, beyond entertainment value, is that he does at times spout or stumble toward the truth, but it can often sadly only be discerned by an industry expert. An example of that is below.
Or this from GFA.
Learn more from the related reports, above or linked below.
That is your first installment today of manufactured home industry “News, Tips, and Views Pros Can Use” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, analysis, periodic entertainment, inspiration, and commentary.)
Submitted by Soheyla Kovach for MHProNews.com.
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