On Tuesday, philanthropy correspondent Stephanie Strom covered a huge donation by billionaire hedge fund investor George Soros to the controversy-stained Human Rights Watch, but made no mention of Soros's history of left-wing giving or of the recent Nazi memorabilia-related controversy around Human Rights Watch.
George Soros, the billionaire investor and philanthropist, plans to announce on Tuesday that he is giving $100 million to Human Rights Watch to expand the organization's work globally.
It is the largest gift he has made, the largest gift by far that Human Rights Watch has ever received, and only the second gift of $100 million or more made by an individual this year, according to the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. "We're seeing noticeably fewer charitable gifts at the $100 million level from individuals reported than we did just a few years ago," said Patrick Rooney, the center's executive director. "Between 2006 and 2008, an average of about 13 gifts a year of that size by individuals was reported. In 2009, it dropped to six, and this year, we know of only one other."
Contrariness, however, is a hallmark of Mr. Soros, both as an investor and as a philanthropist. While others have held on to their money, he has made bigger gifts than ever. And he said in an interview that the gift to Human Rights Watch is the first of a series of large gifts that he plans to make.
The closest Strom came to revealing Soros's left-wing bona fides was this quote:
Mr. Soros put it differently. "I'm afraid the United States has lost the moral high ground under the Bush administration, but the principles that Human Rights Watch promotes have not lost their universal applicability," he said. "So to be more effective, I think the organization has to be seen as more international, less an American organization."
Though his Open Society Institute, Soros has invested heavily in left-wing groups Moveon.org and the Center for American Progress. Yet Strom only mentioned less controversial donations to a poverty-fighting group, the Robin Hood Foundation.
(Strom also didn't remind readers of the controversy over a former HRW military analyst, a harsh critic of Israel, who turned out to have a passionate interest in collecting Nazi memorabilia.)
By contrast, Strom put politics front and center in a piece she co-wrote with Michael Barbaro in September 2006, "Conservatives Help Wal-Mart, and Vice Versa," which opened:
"As Wal-Mart Stores struggles to rebut criticism from unions and Democratic leaders, the company has discovered a reliable ally: prominent conservative research groups like the American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation and the Manhattan Institute."
It was sufficiently flawed to become the subject of the public editor's Sunday column.