Third of Four Parts
Books, newspapers, radio stations, TV stations, websites and cutting edge videos. The pieces of the George Soros media empire are as diverse as the nations of the world and just as widespread. From nakedly partisan left-wing media like Think Progress, the blog for the Center for American Progress, and a TV show on MSNBC, to the supposedly impartial National Public Radio, Soros has impact on the flow of information worldwide.
It gives him incredible influence. Every month, reporters, writers and bloggers at the many outlets he funds easily reach more than 330 million people around the globe. The U.S. Census estimates the population of the entire United States to be just less than 310 million.
That's roughly the entire population of the United States with the population of Australia thrown in for good measure - every single month.
This information is part of an upcoming report by the Media Research Center's Business & Media Institute which has been looking into George Soros and his influence on the media.
Just counting 13 prominent operations of the 180 media organizations he has funded equals 332 million people each month. Included in that total are big players like NPR, which received $1.8 million from Soros, as well as the little known Project Syndicate and Public News Service, both of which also claim to reach millions of readers.
And that's really just the beginning. That tally takes into account only a few of the bigger Soros-funded media operations. Many numbers simply aren't available."Democracy Now!" - "a daily TV/radio news program, hosted by Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez" - is known for its left-wing take on global news. Its vitriol ranges from attacks on Blackwater founder Erik Prince and supporters of Andrew Breitbart (whom it calls 'Electronic Brownshirts'), to claims the U.S. is opposed to Arab democracy. Just that one Soros-funded operation is heard "on over 900 stations, pioneering the largest community media collaboration in the United States." But it posts no formal audience numbers. Phone calls to "Democracy Now!" were not returned.
Laughably, Soros denies he has a media empire, despite spending easily more than $48 million on that empire and having top journalists from more than 30 major news organizations serving on the boards of groups he funds. "Another trick is to accuse your opponent of the behavior of which you are guilty, like Fox News accusing me of being the puppet master of a media empire," wrote Soros in the introduction to his new self-promotional book "The Philanthropy of George Soros." That book, appropriately, was written by former New York Times reporter Chuck Sudetic who now works for Soros' Open Society Foundations. It is the second such Soros promotional book written by a Times staffer.
But Soros wildly understates his own impact. On April 8, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi headlined a Boston conference on "media reform." She was joined by four other congressmen, a senator, two FCC commissioners, a Nobel laureate and numerous liberal journalists.
The event was sponsored by a group called Free Press, which has received $1.4 million from Soros. Free Press has two major agenda items - undermining Internet freedom by pushing so-called "net neutrality," and advocating for government-funded media to the tune of $35 billion a year. Many of those attending or speaking were affiliated with Soros-funded operations.
Free Press is just one of the better funded Soros groups. They also include the Center for American Progress ($7.3 million), which operates the heavily staffed Think Progress blog. That blog "now has 30 writers and researchers," according to Politico. Other well-funded operations include the investigative reporting operations at the Center for Public Integrity ($3.7 million) and Center for Investigative Reporting ($1.1 million), as well as Media Matters ($1.1 million) and the Sundance Institute ($1 million).
That's not all. "Soros' foundations gave 34 grants from 1997 to 2010 to local NPR member stations and specific programs that have totaled nearly $3.4-million, said the foundations' [spokesperson Maria] Archuleta. Recipients included WNYC and Minnesota Public Radio," wrote outgoing NPR ombudsman Alicia Shepard.
In fact, Soros funds nearly every major left-wing media source in the United States. Forty-five of those are financed through his support of the Media Consortium. That organization 'is a network of the country's leading, progressive, independent media outlets.' The list is predictable - everything from Alternet to the Young Turks.
A report by the Media Consortium detailed how progressives had created an "echo chamber" of outlets "in which a message pushes the larger public or the mainstream media to acknowledge, respond, and give airtime to progressive ideas because it is repeated many times." According to the report called "The Big Thaw," "if done well, the message within the echo chamber can become the accepted meme, impact political dynamics, shift public opinion and change public policy."
That mindset plays out in much of what the consortium's members do. Alternet describes itself as an "award-winning news magazine and online community that creates original journalism and amplifies the best of hundreds of other independent media sources." It hates Tea Parties and complains about "hatemongering" as the "ugly side of Evangelical Christianity." The site gets 1.5 million unique visitors to its unique view of the world.
Brave New Films, also funded by the Media Consortium, is run by the same people who run Brave New Foundation. Robert Greenwald and Jim Miller produce and distribute videos attacking businesses and conservatives. The site brags about a 2008 election video "that exposes John McCain's double talk, for instance, and receive 9 million views around the world." Their latest effort is yet another attack on Koch Industries, attempting to halt a much-needed pipeline from the Canada to the U.S.
Then there's the Young Turks and MSNBC host Cenk Uygur. In 2010, he was welcomed to the network with a press release detailing his web impact. "One of YouTube's Top 100 Partners, the irreverent talk show averages over 18 million views per month and has over 320 million views overall on its YouTube Channel.'"
The list goes on and on. Project Syndicate calls itself "the world's pre-eminent source of original op-ed commentaries." It has wide reach. "As of May 2011, Project Syndicate membership included 462 leading newspapers in 150 countries." Its monthly circulation is 72,815,528. Naturally, "support comes from the Open Society Institute," the primary Soros foundation.
Project Syndicate's columnist line-up, spread to 462 newspapers, is impressively left-leaning or globalist: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, former President Jimmy Carter, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, as well as lefty economists Jeffrey Sachs and Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz.
Public News Service describes itself as "a member-supported news service that advocates journalism in the public interest." It is a "network of state-based news services' in 33 states. It claims it reaches 'a combined national weekly audience of 24 million." PNS is proud of its 2010 success. "Last year the Public News Service produced over 4,000 stories featuring public interest content that were redistributed several hundred thousand times on 6,114 radio stations, 928 print outlets, 133 TV stations and 100s of websites. Nationally, an average of 60 outlets used each story."
The Soros 'echo chamber' is even larger. Many of his organizations have a media component - from New Orleans, where he funds The Lens, to nations that were once part of the former Soviet Union. But he doesn't have a media empire.
Dan Gainor is the Boone Pickens Fellow and the Media Research Center's Vice President for Business and Culture. His column appears each week on The Fox Forum. He can also be contacted on Facebook and Twitter as dangainor.