This may be the most important article you read this week or month or year.

Crack investigative journalist David Sirota, who blew open the story of the financing of the PBS series on pensions, now demonstrates the five rules of what he calls “native advertising.”

In this case, the same John Arnold Foundation that underwrote the PBS series with $3.5 million, underwrote a report by the Brookings Institution on the need to rein in pensions of public sector workers.

Sirota demonstrates that this is far from accurate, that there are other views, but that Brookings did not present a balanced account. It added to the echo chamber of those who want to cut pensions but ignore huge tax cuts for corporations.

Most telling is the David vs. Goliath claim, where the rich corporate sector presents itself as the little guy against the powerful unions.

He writes:

“Rule 4: Portray the native advertiser as an underdog and its work as heroic, all while ignoring facts to portray the native advertiser’s opponents as an evil Goliath

“The best native advertising flips the script. It casts the monied native advertiser as the earnest underdog David and the native advertiser’s disadvantaged opponent as the big bad Goliath. The Arnold-funded Brookings paper does exactly this.

“For instance, the paper asserts that “public employee unions are one of the most—if not the most—powerful political actors in state politics.” Readers are expected to believe that this makes unions the omnipotent villain that needs to be thwarted by poor powerless corporations, even though that’s the opposite of what the data show.

“According to the National Institute on Money in State Politics, unions have spent a combined $1.7 billion on state politics since 2000. That’s a lot – but it is dwarfed by the $8.1 billion spent on state politics by the business sector in that same period. Those numbers are hardly surprising or secret – they track the same rough ratio that exists at the federal level.”