More Priceless Analysis of Soros' "Media Empire"

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

Poor Dan Gainor. He must have drawn the short straw at Brent Bozell's Media Research Center and been assigned the unenviable task of writing a tedious series documenting the supposed evils of left-leaning billionaire philanthropist George Soros and his very scary "media empire."

As we've previously noted, despite the grave warnings about Soros activity, Gainor can't point to a single example of how Soros has tried to influence any of the journalism that he supports through mostly non-profit institutions, such as ProPublica The Center for Public Integrity, and Media Matters. Gainor can't point to anything wrong with the journalism in question. (In fact, he's praised it.) Gainor can't find any examples, or even allegations, of Soros trying to influence reports. Nor does Gainor prove Soros' financial support in any way has an "impact" on the journalism produced.

Also (and this is quite comical), Gainor never explains why the millions Soros' foundations has spent on journalism in America is inherently evil, while the billions that Rupert Murdoch has spent is not.

Nonetheless, Gainor's now back with another attack at Soros, stressing how vast his "media empire" is based on his journalism funding grants and how the "empire" allows him to "influence" events. What Gainor takes great pains to not to say is this: Soros gives away lots of money to media institutions. Or, Soros donates millions. Because, of course, that's what philanthropists do.

When wealthy people donate money, for instance, to the New York Public Library, that doesn't mean that suddenly the venerable institution becomes part of those donors' "empires." That's not how philanthropy works. But Gainor pretends otherwise and builds his entire premise around the idea that once a Soros foundation gives money to a media institution, that institution immediately becomes part of his "empire."

Let's look at Gainor's example of NPR to see how laughable the allegation is.

Gainor excitedly points out that Soros' Open Society Foundation last year gave NPR a grant of $1.8 million in order to hire reporters to cover state capitols. But as NPR's ombudsman, Alicia Shepard, recently pointed out, the Open Society grant given to NPR actually covers a two-year period, which means the Soros foundation gave NPR $900,000 annually for two years.

Some context, please. NPR's annual operating budget, paid for mostly by station fees, corporate underwriting, and philanthropic donations, is approximately $160 million. And last year a Soros foundation gave NPR $900,000. But according to the Media Research Center's stellar analysis, because Soros provided NPR with less than 1/160th of its budget last year, or far less than one percent, NPR instantly became part of the Soros "media empire."

That, of course, is nonsensical.

More? From Gainor:

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.

Again, just do the math. Over a 13-year period, Soros-backed foundations reportedly gave some NPR member stations $3.4 million, or roughly $260,000 per-year. Keep in mind there are nearly 800 NPR member stations nationwide, and collectively their annual budgets total in the hundreds of millions of dollars, and over a 13-year period they would total in the billions. But based on the Soros foundations' relatively modest donation of $260,000 annually, we're supposed to consider NPR as being part of Soros' "media empire."

Whatever you say Dan.

Oh, and speaking of billionaires funding institutions, please note that Gainor himself is the "Boone Pickens Fellow" at the Media Research Center. Pickens, who backed the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, is a gas and oil executive who has given generously to MRC and helped finance its endless attacks on the so-called liberal media.

So yes, Gainor's job is tied to the fact that billionaire Pickens gives money to a media institution such as MRC, but Gainor has spent weeks decrying the fact that billionaire Soros gives money to media institutions.

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