Posts Tagged ‘the smear’

Watchdogs? Attack-Dogs? The Smear, and Manufactured Housing

April 12th, 2019 Comments off


The historic vision in America for the news media is to hold the powerful to account. To be a voice for the voiceless.  Investigating concerns about governmental, criminal, or corporate malfeasance are what made for riveting reports that sold newspapers or caused channels to be turned to for some breaking, relevant news report.


Unlike numbers today, we believe that mainstream news reporting absolutely still occurs. That reporting – to varying degrees – occurs on both sides of the left-right divide.  But the reason that media has lost so much credibility, per surveys, is because the independence and objectivity of news reports have been called into question.  The fact that Sharyl Attkisson – among others – has devised a list of left-right media bias is itself revealing, and saddening.



The Smear, Media, and Manufactured Housing

Speaking of the media, today Sharyl Attkisson’s team provided the Daily Business News on MHProNews her expert insights on Smear Tactics as they are used in the media.

Here are the top-lines and neatly notes Attkisson provided here, as published last month in the Hill.



SharylAttkissonTwitterPhotoDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews“I Dream of a World Without Smears”

Smear /smeer/: noun

  1. Carefully timed and publicized release of negative material, true or not, about a target.
  2. Character assassination.

Bork, Thomas, Hill, Clinton, Clinton, Beck, Imus, Palin, Biden, Obama, O’Reilly, Sanders, Trump, Hannity, Kavanaugh, Northam, Klobuchar, Carlson …

Smears have become a distasteful staple in our media diet. The nonprofits, LLCs, super PACs, PR firms, crisis management companies and global law firms that organize and promote smears have formed a multibillion-dollar industry. They’re profiting beyond imagination.

Are we?

After interviewing many players who work in the smear industry, I came up with three characteristics that qualify an accusation as a smear. The determination of whether a particular attack is, in fact, a smear lies not so much in the truth of the accusation, but in execution and motivation.

In a smear:

▪           The media are used as a tool in an organized effort to amplify accusations, true or not, in a fashion disproportionate to the alleged offense.

▪           Though moral outrage is voiced, the accused actually is targeted for entirely different reasons, usually in a campaign by political or financial competitors.

▪           The goal of a smear is the target’s destruction.

When a smear is launched against someone we don’t like, we may be happy to enjoy the ride. If it’s against someone we like, we fret about how unjust it is. But we seldom step back and see the big truth: We are little more than an unwitting audience watching a scripted play. There are behind-the-scenes producers, writers and actors. They are experts at working the media, plucking our emotions and prompting their desired results. They carefully time each allegation, roll out demands for apologies or resignations, and organize “grassroots” boycotts.






With that backdrop from award-winning journalist and best selling author Attkisson, it seemed prudent to see what bias, if any, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver portrayed, per third party sources.  So MHProNews looked.




More than one left-of-center outlets described it and HBO as ‘liberal’ leaning programing.  Fair enough.

That’s interesting, because a reportedly liberal program has taken dead aim at a progressive billionaire icon.  That would be Warren Buffett, who drew a healthy dose of Oliver’s satirical wrath.  If you’ve not yet seen the video and report, check it out at the linked text-image box below, along with an analysis, and fact-check.  BTW, what follows is the number 1 fact check on this viral video on this date.


HBO’s John Oliver on Last Week Tonight Mobile Homes Video, Manufactured Home Communities Fact Check


Back to Mr. Buffett, the person who supported Secretary Hillary Clinton, or Senator-turned President Barack Obama.

That would also be the same Buffett who is Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, that includes brands like Clayton Homes and their related lending units.  Those firms reportedly dominate the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI).

Now what’s odd about that is the fact that Tim Williams, when he was chairman of MHI, said that one of the risks to the industry was from the progressive agenda.  Would that be the same agenda that Chairman Buffett supports politically?



Notice. One can agree or disagree with 21st Mortgage CEO and prior MHI Chairman Tim Williams’ presentation, from which the slide above was taken with permission, while still questioning how it came to be that Williams was being intellectually at odds with Berkshire Hathaway Chairman, Warren Buffett. To see all of William’s informative slides, click the graphic above.


The Hustle, in their review of the John Oliver video essentially called Buffett a fake liberal fraud, posturing being a do-gooder, while actually taking advantage of the poor. Here is how they said it: “Buffett has long been viewed as a corporate hero. The more he complains about his secretary having to pay higher income tax than he does, the more people view Big B as some rich do-gooder. But Clayton homes’ manipulative business model, which Buffett immediately saw dollar signs in, contradicts many of the ideas of fairness for which Buffett is known.”


What those sources didn’t say is how the Buffett empire came to dominate the manufactured home market, and how that impacted customers or independent businesses.  ICYMI, or need that refresher, see that at the linked text-image box below.


Bridging Gap$, Affordable Housing Solution Yields Higher Pay, More Wealth, But Corrupt, Rigged Billionaire’s Moat is Barrier

By the way, no Clayton, 21st, or MHI senior leader has publicly challenged the accuracy of any of these points. MHProNews has asked them, and their attorneys, to do so. They’ve ducked out every time for some 2 years.  Given the report linked above uses their own words and documents, how could they deny it, with a straight face?

Now, there are several possible ways to consider these facts on top of other facts.  Manufactured home industry professionals who want to believe and support Clayton and MHI are left with a dilemma. Either Williams and Buffett don’t see eye-to-eye on politics, or there is some kind of head-fake going on, right?

Let’s not forget that Secretary Clinton, as the Democratic candidate for the White House pledged to keep Dodd-Frank intact.  Hmm, so the MHI sponsored Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act was backed by Tim Williams, 21st, Clayton Homes, and their allies – but Warren Buffett was backing a candidate that opposed that same legislative bill?

These apparent contradictions lead to another question.  If Buffett, Williams, and Clayton are willing to give a head-fake on one thing, and another, is it unrealistic to think that they might do so on something else of consequence?


Holding the Powerful to Account

The media is supposed to hold the powerful to account when the crossed a line.  Are they going to play the role of watchdog?  Attack dog?  Will they take part in a smear?

What shouldn’t happen is that reports that hold the powerful to account, is that others get swept up who are bystanders, making the innocent and the alleged wrongdoers – or their victims – all look badly.

Buffett and a few of his uber-rich, MHI supporting buddies are exposed in this video by John Oliver.  Okay.  But do the independents and honorable people in the industry wanted to be tarred and feathered along with them?



Keep in mind that Warren Buffett has said that the lesson of history is that people don’t learn the lessons of history. He and his allies count on busy professional people not looking in the rearview mirror of history. When we look back at just the last few years, isn’t it apparent that Buffett supports one thing, his minions claim to support the opposite, and the industry is being lead down blind allies? Meanwhile, the data suggests that industry has not yet recovered to the level that it was when Buffett bought Clayton in 2003. Does keeping the industry at a low level of production allow for more industry consolidation, and also keep more new competitors out?


That’s enough food for thought on a Friday night.

But for those who want to dig deeper into these mysterious issues, see the linked related reports, below the byline, offers, and notices that follow. That’s tonight’s edition of “News through the lens of manufactured homes, and factory-built housing.” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, analysis, and commentary.)



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MH Sales, Marketing, Management Life Lesson – Plan A, Plan B

November 5th, 2018 Comments off



Imagine the following, because the odds are good that it has already happened to you and your business.


Let’s presume for the next few minutes that you are an ethical person, working in an honest business.

Based on that, do you have to have a perfect product or service in order to sell it?

Of course not. If perfection was the standard, there would be NO business. “Excellence” was Apple founder Steve Jobs’ standard.

Coach Lou Holtz standard was doing good, following the principles of the millennia-ageless “golden rule.”

We tell professionals in columns and our clients “don’t over promise, don’t under deliver.”

We did and do that in our MH businesses.

We do that in our publishing work too. Our website isn’t perfect, this writer isn’t perfect, but thousands of manufactured and factory-built housing professionals like yourself will logon today to see something good enough to read, consider, and perhaps do themselves. By the way, thank you, and know that serving you and thousands of others is a responsibility we don’t take lightly.

Back to the headline point, the life lesson that impacts your business or professional routinely. What if someone smeared you personally, and/or smeared your operation.  What would you do?

Before answering the question, let’s clarify the topic.

What is or isn’t “a smear?

The dictionary says that “smear” in this context means: “damage the reputation of [someone, some organization] by false accusations; slander.”

So, a smear is a false accusation, designed to disparage someone or some operation’s reputation.

There are some who confuse a true or evidenced based concern with a smear.  But spotlighting a legitimate issue isn’t a smear at all. A smear is a lie designed to make you or your organization look bad.  If something isn’t a lie, it isn’t a smear.

That clarified, based upon our experiences in MHVille, smears happen routinely. They happen to us, they happen to others.

Before we get into specific smears, let’s make a brief, but related point.  In a very real sense, Manufactured Housing as an industry has been smeared.

So as a professional or business, there must be a strategy to deal with the reality of smears.

I’m writing this on an iPad. That iPad or my iPhone does automatic word completion. It’s a useful feature.  Odds are good you have a smart phone with a similar feature.  Have you ever had an automatic word turn out to be the wrong word? Or have you thought you typed one thing, and autocompletion or autocorrection was wrong?

It happens all the time, right?

It is an example of a good product, that isn’t perfect product. Yet millions of smart phones of all brands have a similar feature.

You have a manufactured home for sale. It isn’t perfect. It’s not the Taj Mahal. But it doesn’t have to be perfect! It only has to do the job it is supposed to do. I’ve personally sold as many as 15 homes in a month – closed, delivered, and funded – with double digits in the month before and after.  This isn’t theory.  We talk facts, experience, and reality here.

The point is simple yet profoundly important to you, your business or location(s).


Solution to Smears?

So long as you don’t over promise, or under deliver, part of the solution to smears are the following:

  • You have to continue to be who you authentically are, honest, responsible, delivering on every promise. Just HONESTLY showing up, day after day, doing the right work with the right words, will over time prove to discerning people that the smear isn’t true.
  • One has to be willing to defend the truth. That’s the truth of our industry, and the truth about you, your firm, your product or service. If your firm is a client of our business development services division, you already know how we do that, successfully. If you want coaching on this and you are the boss, send that message, or pick up that phone and call the number below. If you’re not the boss, then talk to your boss, or send that person this article.
  • The Truth Well Told is Powerful, and NECESSARY. The truth well told is HUGE in debunking a smear.

We’ve paid attention to some companies and associations that have spent sometimes large sums of money with others (and I’m not knocking the others).  A year goes by.  Two years.  What actually changed for those firms or states? If there was only modest growth, was that growth any different than the growth rate of the industry at large?


We show charts like the one above for good reasons. Thousands of manufactured home industry professionals have not experienced shipment levels 3, 4, or 5 or more times greater than they are today.


A Very Public Example of Beating The Smear

Closing on a very public example, which may sound political, but is in fact an amazingly powerful public example of the smear. Why is President Donald J. Trump controversial?  He’s accused of all sorts of things.  Where is the evidence, beyond the smear?  The Mueller probe has gone mostly quiet.  Many of the attorneys who worked for special counsel Robert Mueller have left.  Everything has leaked out or was made public.

If there was a case against the 45th president, the whole world would know it.  Instead, there is this drum beat of racist, and other slurs – the smear – even though there were no such allegations about this same man before he started to run for the White House.  This president is an amazing example of how to deal with the smear.

  • Book after book came out that tried to paint the president as the devil’s own brother.
  • Third-party research shows that 92 percent of mainstream media coverage of the president is negative.
  • Yet, at this point in his presidency, after years of “the smear,” the president’s approval rating is higher than President Barack Obama at this same point in the two’s presidencies. Yet, former President Obama had an often fawning media.

The point? How did President Trump accomplish what he has, in the face of an onslaught of attacks and smears?

  1. A) POTUS Trump pushes back. He often points out the hypocrisy of the allegations, or shows how they contradict the facts.
  2. B) POTUS Trump rallies and communicates with his base. He tweets. He holds rallies. He is communicating daily to his supporters, and his support has grown. 
  3. C) POTUS Trump educates. Have you watched more than one of his rallies?  Have you watched one from start to finish, not just the 30 or 60 second sound bite on the evening news? The president is informing his base.  He is telling them what he promised, and what they’ve done. He uses facts and figures. Sure, he tries to make it entertaining and engaging. Millions love it.

If you hate, love or are somewhere in the middle on the president, you’re getting a life lesson that is absolutely priceless. Pushback against the smear, and showing up and doing your job well are huge.

By this time Wednesday, the odds are excellent that the results of the midterms will be known. But you and we have to get up and go back to work, regardless of the outcome. Whatever the outcome, President Trump will go back to work too.  Ditto folks like you or we too.

One of the president’s slogans is so smart. “Promises Made, Promises Kept.” That works in business. It works in business and life too.

How do you beat the smear?

Frankly, some may never believe the truth. Some will accept the smear.

But if you do the right things, in the right ways, over time, it can be used to benefit you and your business. It’s not easy, but it is doable.  The most obvious example is the 45th President.

Finally, you have to think long-term.  You have to plan your career and your location(s) like you are going to do this, and only this, for the next several decades.  Long-term thinking and “promises made, promises kept” has huge long-term benefits.

That’s our Monday morning sales, marketing, management tip. That’s “Industry News, Tips, and Views Pros Can Use.” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” ## (Manufactured housing related marketing & sales news, analysis, and commentary.)

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By L.A. “Tony” Kovach – for

Tony is the multiple award-winning managing member of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and

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Related References:

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