By Matthew Vadum (Organization Trends, January 2011, PDF here)
Radical philanthropist George Soros gave $1 million to Media Matters for America, a well-funded slander shop that roots out “conservative misinformation.” It’s all part of his campaign to suppress conservative ideas that stand in the way of pushing America even farther to the left.
He has conquered the world of finance and remains firmly on top of it. He writes bestselling books. He dominates leftist philanthropy. He co-founded the Democracy Alliance, an ultra-secretive billionaires’ club that wants to transform America into a European-style socialist state – or worse. He owns the Democratic Party. Now George Soros, who also fancies himself a philosopher, is positioning himself as a media magnate in order to continue his assault on America’s values and institutions.
Like the protagonist in the classic Orson Welles movie Citizen Kane, Soros can never have enough power. But unlike Charles Foster Kane, the haughty, imperious fictional media mogul, Soros views himself as much more than a mere leader. With a straight face he told reporters, “It is a sort of disease when you consider yourself some kind of god, the creator of everything, but I feel comfortable about it now since I began to live it out.” (The Independent – UK, June 3, 1993)
Although markets have helped make him a billionaire several times over, Soros has declared war on capitalism. He blames markets and something he calls “market fundamentalism”— and not the suffocating regulations and high taxes his funding of left-wing groups promotes – for the current economic slowdown. “The entire edifice of global financial markets has been erected on the false premise that markets can be left to their own devices, we must find a new paradigm and rebuild from the ground up.”
“The system we have now has actually broken down, only we haven’t quite recognized it and so you need to create a new one and this is the time to do it,” Soros told the Financial Times in 2009. In an interview with Der Spiegel the previous year Soros said European-style socialism “is exactly what we need now. I am against market fundamentalism. I think this propaganda that government involvement is always bad has been very successful – but also very harmful to our society.”
Only in the twisted messianic fantasies of this octogenarian billionaire whose demeanor is that of a James Bond villain could such phantom armies of marauding free market fundamentalists wreak havoc on America. Perhaps these were the same laissez-faire legionnaires who brought us Sarbanes-Oxley, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, government bailouts of private industry, farm subsidies, ethanol mandates, smart growth, and the disastrous Community Reinvestment Act in recent decades.
One thing’s for certain: Soros’s answers to the nation’s problems almost invariably involve more regulation and more government intervention in the marketplace. If a policy increases the power of the state and diminishes the power of the individual, Soros is for it.
Because Soros is a lightning rod for criticism, recipients of his money often lie about taking it or perform an elaborate dance of legalistic hairsplitting to conceal the fact he is funding them. For example, Paul Steiger, editor-in-chief of the left-leaning investigative journalism website Pro Publica, denied his organization accepted funding from Soros.
In criticizing an Investor’s Business Daily editorial, Steiger wrote (Dec. 24, 2009):
An unmitigated canard quoted in the editorial – one that has a goofy way of creeping into discourse from a variety of people who dislike something we have written – is that George Soros, the global billionaire, is behind our coverage. Soros has never given us a penny, and even if he had, none of our funders know in advance what we are going to write about, nor do they have any role in deciding what stories we do or don’t do.
In fact Pro Publica’s website contradicts Steiger, openly acknowledging Soros’s Open Society Foundations as a donor.
(Surprisingly, the liberal-dominated “No Labels” group founded last month to combat what it calls the “hyper-partisanship [that] is destroying our politics and paralyzing our ability to govern,” does not appear to be connected to Soros. The new 501c4 advocacy organization has a particularly vapid slogan: “Not Left. Not Right. Forward.”)
Glenn Beck, Threat to the Republic?
Not content to rest on his laurels, Soros has been buying up media properties for years in order to drive home his message to the American public that they are too materialistic, too wasteful, too selfish, and too stupid to decide for themselves how to run their own lives.
But controlling segments of the media is not enough for him. Now he’s openly funding the fake media watchdog, Media Matters for America, founded by the formerly conservative journalist David Brock. The writers at Brock’s well-funded slander shop assiduously monitor Rush Limbaugh’s broadcasts, seethe over Andrew Breitbart’s latest expose, turn purple over Bill O’Reilly’s latest on-air editorial, and analyze every last semi-colon in Charles Krauthammer’s latest column in search of that rarest of unicorns, the beast known as “conservative misinformation.”
Soros’s donation to Media Matters suggests that intimidating journalists who dare to question his vision is now a top priority for Soros. Come down on the wrong side of an issue and risk being labeled ignorant or evil by the smear website. Say that tax cuts lead to economic prosperity, and you’re attacked. Criticize illegal immigration, and you’re attacked. Say affirmative action is racist and discriminatory, and you’re attacked.
“They are vicious. They only understand one thing: attack, attack, attack,” said GOP pollster Frank Luntz. David Folkenflik, media reporter for liberal National Public Radio, was similarly unimpressed by Media Matters. “They’re looking at every dangling participle, every dependent clause, every semicolon, every quotation to see if there’s some way it unfairly frames a cause, a party, a candidate that they may have some feelings for.”
Media Matters relies heavily on personal attacks, rather than substantive or fact-based arguments. It settles scores. Large swaths of the site are dedicated to skewering specific media personalities such as Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, G. Gordon Liddy and Brock’s former friend Laura Ingraham. What results is not even-handed analysis of what they say or write, but personal scrutiny, including minute parsing and microscopic analysis of every comment and its presumed meaning.
Today, Media Matters is one of the loudest voices in the liberal media echo chamber as it feeds hard-line left-wing media critiques to liberal blogs, sympathetic and lazy reporters, and pundits in an attempt to silence non-compliant journalists and muscle right-leaning media figures out of the public debate entirely.
Even before the donation, Soros and Brock already worked closely together. Before the last presidential election they collaborated on a project called Progressive Media USA that vowed to spend $40 million trashing GOP presidential candidate John McCain. Media Matters exists to help protect Democrats and harm Republicans. Even the New York Times describes the organization as “highly partisan.” (New York Times, Nov. 1, 2008)
As if on cue, Media Matters, and now Soros, believe Fox News is the greatest threat to the American republic. Both Soros and Brock had always denied that the billionaire funded Media Matters—and there was no definitive evidence of such a connection— but recently Soros proclaimed himself a new donor to the organization. Said Soros
Despite repeated assertions to the contrary by various Fox News commentators, I have not to date been a funder of Media Matters. However, in view of recent evidence suggesting that the incendiary rhetoric of Fox News hosts may incite violence, I have now decided to support the organization. Media Matters is one of the few groups that attempts to hold Fox News accountable for the false and misleading information they so often broadcast. I am supporting Media Matters in an effort to more widely publicize the challenge Fox News poses to civil and informed discourse in our democracy.
In accepting a cool million from Soros, Brock promptly denounced Fox News host Glenn Beck as Public Enemy Number One.
From the moment in early 2009 that Roger Ailes enlisted Glenn Beck to the Fox News Channel’s new agenda – a battle to overturn the 2008 election results that Ailes likened to the “The Alamo” – Fox has transformed itself into a 24-7 GOP attack machine, dividing Americans through fear-mongering and falsehoods and undermining the legitimacy of our government for partisan political ends. Worse still, in recent months, Fox has allowed Glenn Beck’s show to become an out-of-control vehicle for the potential incitement of domestic terrorism. No American should be quiet about these developments – the degradation of our media and the reckless endangerment of innocent lives. George Soros, a philanthropist of the highest integrity, unfortunately knows first-hand what it’s like to be grotesquely caricatured and flatly lied about on Fox. Media Matters is grateful that he has decided to lend his voice and support our goal of greater journalistic accuracy and accountability. We are especially pleased that in this moment of hidden right-wing billionaire money corrupting our democracy, Mr. Soros, upon deciding to support our efforts, quickly and transparently has made that support public.
Only in the topsy-turvy world that Brock and other leftists occupy could holding governments accountable be considered antisocial behavior. Whatever happened to the journalists’ mantra that it was their purpose to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable? What about speaking truth to power?
The left has been hyperventilating about Beck ever since he moved from CNN to Fox News in early 2009 and quickly became the Obama administration’s most vociferous high-profile critic. In particular, liberals could not abide Beck righteously fulminating against the shadowy Tides Foundation, a pass-through entity that allows wealthy individuals to give to radical causes anonymously.
Eric Boehlert, a so-called senior fellow at Media Matters, seized an opportunity when a deranged would-be shooter named Byron Williams jumped into the headlines last year. After a shootout with the California Highway Patrol, Williams said he had been on his way to shoot up the San Francisco offices of Tides in hopes of sparking a revolution. Williams was never actually much of a threat to Tides. When police pulled him over on a Sunday when the Tides offices were closed, the inept insurrectionist was drunk.
Media Matters argued that Beck had blood on his hands because Williams claimed Beck’s program was one of his favorite TV shows. Boehlert blogged that Beck “has routinely smeared the low-profile entity [i.e. Tides] for being staffed by ‘thugs’ and ‘bullies’ and involved in ‘the nasty of the nastiest,’ like indoctrinating schoolchildren and creating a ‘mass organization to seize power.'” Williams “wasn’t able to open fire inside the offices of the Tides Foundation, an organization ‘nobody knew’ about until Glenn Beck started targeting it.” (July 27, 2010)
Aside from the rhetorical flourishes, Beck had provided a more or less accurate picture of the Tides Foundation, its sister groups, and many of its grant recipients.
As Trevor Loudon wrote in the October 2010 Foundation Watch, “The Tides Foundation and Tides Center are the radical left’s best kept secret. Together they provide tens of millions of dollars annually to some of the most extreme, destructive charities in America. Their money has gone to an assortment of questionable groups including ACORN, Media Matters for America, and the Center for Constitutional Rights.” (The Center was profiled in the September 2006 Organization Trends.)
According to David Horowitz’s online encyclopedia of the left, DiscoverTheNetworks.org, the Tides family of foundations has also funded the violent anarchist group known as the Ruckus Society, United for Peace and Justice (a group headed by pro-Castro activist Leslie Cagan), the Council for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), three of whose executives have been indicted for terrorism-related activities, and the National Lawyers Guild.
NLG “began as a Communist front organization and remains proud of its lineage,” the encyclopedia notes. At a 2003 NLG convention Lynne Stewart said in a keynote address: “And modern heroes, dare I mention? Ho and Mao and Lenin, Fidel and Nelson Mandela and John Brown, Ché Guevara … Our quests like theirs are to shake the very foundations of the continents.” Stewart was later convicted of providing “material support” to her client sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, whose terrorist group bombed the World Trade Center in 1993, killing six people and injuring upwards of a thousand.
Stewart, incidentally, has made no secret of her views. “I don’t believe in anarchist violence but in directed violence,” the New York Times quoted her saying in 1995. “That would be violence directed at the institutions which perpetuate capitalism, racism, sexism, and at the people who are the appointed guardians of those institutions and accompanied by popular support.”
For expressing his informed opinion about Tides, Beck was described by Boehlert as something approaching a murderer. As John Sexton notes (BigJournalism.com, Dec. 15, 2010), after the Byron Williams incident Boehlert viciously attacked Beck for weeks, logic and truth be damned:
Eric Boehlert, Senior Fellow at Media Matters, made much of the Beck connection saying that Beck had come close to having a “body count.” In addition to Media Matters, Boehlert’s article was picked up by major liberal sites including Current TV, Huff Post, Salon, Alternet and Truthout. But it was distributed much more widely by blogs. A Google search for the title of his piece, in quotes, yields 57,000 results. The left ate it up like cotton candy.
And Boehlert inspired others in the media to follow his lead. Just a few days after his piece made the rounds, Dana Milbank at the Washington Post (who was about to publish a book on Beck which relied heavily on Media Matters) did what amounted to a sloppy rewrite of Boehlert’s piece.
And that was really just the beginning. Over succeeding weeks, Media Matters put up dozens of stories (1,600 search results) about Byron Williams, all of them mentioning Glenn Beck. Boehlert himself returned to the topic several months later using the same extended network of liberal sites. He once again blamed the shootings on Beck.
Is turnabout fair play? Recently a crazed shooter cited Media Matters as one of his inspirations.
Clay Duke, the late Florida school board shooter (who killed himself Dec. 14 after threatening officials during a school board meeting), listed Media Matters on his Facebook page as one of his favorite websites. Therefore, according to Boehlert’s reasoning, Media Matters should share some of the blame for Duke’s violent acts.
Did Boehlert’s rants push Clay Duke to act? According to Boehlert’s own logic, Media Matters has blood on its hands. Stretch Boehlert’s bizarre reasoning a little further and George Soros becomes an accomplice after the fact for funding Media Matters.
That’s crazy but it’s the kind of tortured logic that passes for thinking at Media Matters.
Soros Funds Pro-Terrorist Propaganda
Soros is also bankrolling a documentary that celebrates left-wing terrorists who plotted to napalm Republicans at the 2008 GOP convention in Minnesota. Even worse, you too are bankrolling the film through your taxes.
A trailer for the left-wing film Better This World suggests that it depicts David Guy McKay and Bradley Neil Crowder as idealistic activists who, according to the official blurb, “set out to prove the strength of their political convictions to themselves and their mentor.” In fact McKay and Crowder are convicted domestic terrorists who manufactured instruments of death calculated to inflict maximum pain and bodily harm on people whose political views they disagreed with.
You can be sure that if it was right-wing terrorists who were plotting to attack the Democratic National Convention, whoever foiled the conspiracy would be immortalized in film, literature and song as a savior of democracy.
“If you flip the equation around and it had been a group of conservatives threatening to use force to prevent those on the Left from meeting, everyone would expect the government to infiltrate them and they would also expect the FBI to stop them and charge them with crimes,” said Brandon Darby, who helped the FBI thwart the planned attack.
The movie, which is expected to be released this year, attacks Darby, a true American hero who undermined the conspiracy by alerting the FBI. Filmmakers Katie Galloway and Kelly Duane de la Vega twist the facts to argue that Darby, a former revolutionary activist, manipulated McKay and Crowder into becoming would-be mass murderers.
It’s an easily disproved lie. During sentencing, U.S. District Judge Michael Davis went out of his way to make a specific legal finding that McKay obstructed justice by falsely accusing Darby of inducing him to manufacture the incendiary devices.
McKay and Crowder had made homemade riot shields and were ready to use them in St. Paul to help demonstrators block streets near the Xcel Energy Center. The goal was to shut down the democratic process by preventing GOP delegates from participating in the convention. The shields were discovered and confiscated.
During a search of a residence, police found gas masks, slingshots, helmets, knee pads and eight Molotov cocktails consisting of bottles filled with gasoline with attached wicks made from tampons. “They mixed gasoline with oil so it would stick to clothing and skin and burn longer,” Darby said.
Thanks to Darby’s cooperation with the FBI, the two aspiring bomb throwers are now languishing in prison. McKay entered a “guilty” plea and was sentenced in May 2009 to 48 months in prison plus three years of supervised release for possession of an unregistered “firearm,” illegal manufacture of a firearm and possession of a firearm with no serial number. A week before, Crowder cut a deal with prosecutors and was sentenced to 24 months in prison for possession of an unregistered firearm. McKay received the stiffer sentence in part because he fabricated the tall tale about Darby’s involvement in the plot.
Of course, it should surprise no one that Hollywood loves this kind of story with its anti-American overtones. HBO gave a grant to the filmmakers to produce their pro-terrorist propaganda. So did the Soros-funded Sundance Institute. After Soros’s foundation, the Open Society Institute (OSI), gave Sundance’s Documentary Film Program $4.6 million in 2002, it gave the institute another $5 million in 2009.
Taxpayers also underwrite Sundance’s adventures in social justice indoctrination. According to nonprofit tax returns (known as IRS Form 990s), the Sundance Institute has taken in $11,240,081 in government grants since 1997. It is unclear which governments made the grants because the 990 forms lump all the grant-making governments together.
The federal government has given $1,350,000 to the institute since 2000, according to USAspending.gov. All but $5,000 of the money was from the National Endowment for the Arts. (The $5,000 grant was from the State Department.) It’s not clear if the $1,350,000 is part of the $11 million-plus figure for all government grants.
Upon receiving the most recent OSI grant, Sundance founder Robert Redford obediently genuflected before Soros. “Sundance Institute has supported documentary storytellers since its beginning,” said Redford. “The recognition of that history by George Soros and the Open Society Institute, and the continuation of our relationship over time, speaks to our shared belief that culture—in this case documentary film—is having a profound impact in shaping progressive change.”
Soros himself has acknowledged he is interested in the movies because “[d]ocumentary films raise awareness and inspire action.” He hails cinema for its power to manipulate audiences. OSI has been underwriting “social justice” documentaries since 1996. In 2001 Soros let Redford’s Sundance Institute take over management of his Soros Documentary Fund, which has since rechristened the Soros/Sundance Documentary Fund. (See Foundation Watch, March 2008).
In 2005 Soros acquired 2.6 million shares of the huge diversified media company Time Warner. In 2006 his companies, Soros Strategic Partners and Dune Capital Management, paid $900 million to buy the DreamWorks SKG film library from Viacom, a move that gave Soros the DVD and rebroadcasting rights to films such as Saving Private Ryan (1998), Gladiator (2000), and American Beauty (1999). As James Hirsen noted, the transaction gives Soros “some highly desirable film rights at a time when the marketing and distribution model is changing to video on demand, video iPods and other forms of digital distribution.” But more importantly, it gives Soros “a presence in Hollywood where likeminded libs are ready, willing and able to collaborate in cinematic social engineering.”
Soros is also venturing into media overseas. In 2008 Soros Fund Management plunked down $100 million for 3% of India’s Reliance Entertainment, a $3 billion conglomerate that aims to provide Internet-based TV programs in India. Reliance also churns out movies and owns movie houses, radio stations and social networking websites in the country with one of the fastest growing economies in the world. When in the 1980s Soros set up offices in Eastern Europe for OSI, he helped to finance publishers, independent TV and radio outlets, and political parties.
As writer Rondi Adamson observed, “most of the documentaries that receive Sundance funding are highly critical of some aspect of American life, capitalism or Western culture. The projects generally share Soros’s worldview that America is a troubling if not sinister influence in the world, that the War on Terror is a fraud and terrorists are misunderstood freedom fighters, and that markets are fundamentally unjust.”
The 2009 Sundance Film Festival screened the documentary Disturbing the Universe. The recently deceased Communist historian Howard Zinn described the movie about radical anti-American lawyer William Kunstler as “a wonderful, inspiring film.”
Putting America in its Place
Undermining America and promoting radicalism is what Soros is all about.
Soros seems to want Communist China to become a superpower, throwing its weight around on the world stage. Weeks before President Obama’s visit to China a year ago the Financial Times asked Soros, “What sort of a financial deal should Obama be seeking to strike when he travels to China next month?” He replied:
I think this would be time because you really need to bring China into the creation of a new world order, a financial world order. They are kind of reluctant members of the IMF. They play along, but they don’t make much of a contribution because it’s not their institution. Their share is not commensurate, their voting rights are not commensurate to their weight, so I think you need a new world order that China has to be part of the process of creating it and they have to buy in. [emphasis added]
In November 2010 Soros praised China effusively. “Today China has not only a more vigorous economy, but actually a better functioning government than the United States,” he said.
It’s all in a day’s work for George Soros. And now he’s trying to control the media in America.
Matthew Vadum is Editor of Organization Trends.