MediaWatch: May 1989

Vol. Three No. 5

Study: Media Money Moves Left

No myth survives like the myth of corporate America supporting conservative policies in its own "corporate interest." A look at media company donation patterns shows just how wrong that is. Major newspapers, magazines, and television networks give predominantly and substantially to liberal political groups through a number of philanthropic arrangements, from private and company foundations to informal and unpublicized corporate contribution programs.

To discover the media's trends in political philanthropy, MediaWatch examined annual reports and publicly available foundation records at the Foundation Center in Washington, D.C. The records show a recurring attachment to liberal groups, including many which often serve as authoritative news sources. This symbiotic relationship -- media funds source, media quotes source -- raises serious questions about media impartiality.

TIMES MIRROR FOUNDATION: The Times Mirror Company owns the Los Angeles Times, Newsday, and the Baltimore Sun. In every year from 1982 to 1986, Times Mirror gave $10,000 to Planned Parenthood. While it contributed $32,500 to the moderate-conservative American Enterprise Institute, it supplied Brookings and the Urban Institute with at least $170,000, not to mention a few thousand for the Democrat-connected Center for National Policy headed by Edmund Muskie.

Liberal: $608,500 (93.5%)

$ 1,000 ACLU Foundation 

$ 55,500 Brookings Institution

$ 2,500 Center for National Policy

$ 5,000 Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget  

$ 10,000 NAACP

$ 10,000 NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund

Conservative: $32,500 (6.5%)  American Enterprise Institute

NEW YORK TIMES COMPANY FOUNDATION: The New York Times' foundation gave to the largest number of liberal groups. Annual reports from 1982 to 1986 reveal grants, such as $5,000 to the far-left magazine The Nation for a publishing internship. The Times has been a consistent supporter of environmental groups, from the National Wildlife Federation,(creators of "stimulating educational packages" for schools like "Welcome to the USSR,") to the World Resources Institute, (which opposes "cramming nuclear power down the throats of an unwilling public and unwilling investors.") Foundation President Fred Hechinger told MediaWatch "our decision to make grants is guided entirely by indications of the usefulness and effectiveness of the applicants and not by ideological considerations."

Liberal: $436,000 (96.5%)

$ 10,000 American Friends Service Committee

$ 19,000 Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies

$ 29,000 Brookings Institution

$ 10,000 Children's Defense Fund

$ 9,000 Conservation Foundation

$ 20,000 Council on Foreign Relations

$ 25,000 Environmental Action Coalition

$ 21,000 Environmental Defense Fund

$ 15,000 Environmental Law Institute

$ 15,000 Feminist Press, Inc.

$ 28,000 Foreign Policy Association

$ 3,000 Government Accountability Project

$ 3,000 King Center for Nonviolent Social Change

$ 45,000 NAACP

$ 5,000 NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund

$ 8,000 National Audubon Society

$ 5,000 National Commission on U.S.-China Relations

$ 20,000 National Public Radio

$ 20,000 National Urban League

$ 6,000 National Wildlife Federation

$ 5,000 The Nation Institute

$ 11,500 Natural Resources Defense Council

$ 19,000 NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund

$ 24,500 Planned Parenthood

$ 12,000 Population Resource Center

$ 10,000 Sierra Club

$ 5,000 Urban Institute

$ 24,000 Wilderness Society

$ 5,000 World Resources Institute

$ 4,000 World Wildlife Fund

Conservative: $16,000 (3.5%)

$ 6,000 American Enterprise Institute

$ 10,000 Media Institute

PHILIP L. GRAHAM FUND: This foundation of the Washington Post- Newsweek empire gives mostly to local charities, but in its 1983-1987 annual reports, its grants to political groups were substantial. They gave $20,000 to the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in 1987, the same year the group fought to reject Robert Bork's nomination to the Supreme Court. Their annual report called that "the most heartening event for the civil rights community last year."

Liberal: $170,000 (94.4%)

$ 15,000 Central American Refugee Center

$ 25,000 Council on Foreign Relations

$ 75,000 Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies

$ 20,000 Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

$ 5,000 NAACP

$ 30,000 Women's Legal Defense Fund

Conservative: $10,000 (5.6%)  American Enterprise Institute

GENERAL ELECTRIC FOUNDATION: NBC's parent company foundation is the least one-sided, contributing more than a fourth of its money to conservative groups. The list below comes from its 1986 annual report. In response to a request by MediaWatch for further information, GE Foundation President Paul Ostergard responded by pointing out that in 1988 GE gave $15,000 to both the conservative Heritage Foundation and Hudson Institute.

Liberal: $321,000 (72.4%)

$ 40,000 Brookings Institution

$ 10,000 Center for National Policy

$ 25,000 Conservation Foundation

$ 25,000 Council on Foreign Relations

$ 20,000 Environmental Law Institute

$ 10,000 Foreign Policy Association

$ 34,000 Institute for International Economics

$ 5,000 Joint Center for Political Studies

$ 35,000 NAACP

$ 2,000  NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund

$ 25,000 National Audubon Society

$ 10,000 National Urban Coalition

$ 50,000 National Urban League

$ 30,000 Urban Institute

Conservative: $122,500 (27.6%)

$ 10,000 American Council for Capital Formation

$ 5,000 American Council on Science and Health

$ 80,000 American Enterprise Institute

$ 10,000 Institute for Contemporary Studies

$ 7,500 Institute for Research on the Economics of Taxation

$ 10,000 Manhattan Institute

CAPITAL CITIES FOUNDATION: Capital Cities owns ABC and a chain of newspapers that includes the Kansas City Star and Times. Among 1986 recipients: the Gloria Steinem-founded Women's Action Alliance and the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund which works to educate "media decision-makers about the complex equality issues that comprise the women's rights agenda," including "reproductive freedom" and "affirmative action."

Liberal: $43,500 (97.8%)

$ 15,000 NAACP

$ 1,500 National Council of Negro Women

$ 3,500 National Urban Coalition

$ 15,000 National Urban League

$ 5,000  NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund

$ 2,500 United Nations Association

$ 1,000 Women's Action Alliance

Conservative: $1,000 (2.2%)  Manhattan Institute