We have reached the logical endpoint of the conservative media's all-out campaign to vilify George Soros: When something in the news makes people mad, run Google searches on the object of the public's anger, plus “George Soros.”
Washington Examiner writer Mark Hemingway handled the googling duties for the story about the outcry over full-body scanners at airports. In a blog post headlined “George Soros also profiting off controversial TSA scanners,” Hemingway purported to show that Soros owns stock in OSI Systems, the parent company of Rapiscan, which makes the scanners.
Glenn Beck couldn't resist this. Today on his radio show, Beck warned his listeners that “there's something wrong with the scanner story.” He went on: “First of all, George Soros has 11,000 shares in the scanner company. What a surprise. But there's something deeply wrong with the scanner story and what's happening at our airports. You're being set up.”
Fox Nation loved it, too, linking to Hemingway's post with the headline “Soros Profiting Off Naked Airport Screeners”:
Hemingway's “bad thing + Soros” search revealed shocking information -- some website you've probably never heard of says that Soros owns stock in OSI Systems. Hemingway wrote:
As for the company's other political connections, it also appears that none other than George Soros, the billionaire funder of the country's liberal political infrastructure, owns 11,300 shares of OSI Systems Inc., the company that owns Rapiscan. Not surprisingly, OSI's stock has appreciated considerably over the course of the year. Soros certainly is a savvy investor.
The link there points to GuruFocus.com, an investment information site owned by a limited liability company of the same name in Plano, Texas. Here's the smoking gun:
Assuming that GuruFocus is correct, Soros owns 11,300 shares of OSI Systems.
And according to that same site, Soros' holdings amount to a whopping 0.06 percent of the company's outstanding shares.
Yes, six one-hundredths of one percent.
There is also a predictable reason that OSI's stock “appreciated considerably over of the course of the year,” as Hemingway put it.
The stock got a fairly big bump during a short period between the very end of 2009 and very early 2010. You remember the thwarted Christmas Day underwear bombing plot -- it caused investors who pay attention to news reports to bet heavily on makers of scanners and other security-related technology, like OSI Systems.
Would it be better or worse if Soros had bought the stock before the bombing attempt? Did Hemingway check when Soros bought it? Did he do anything to verify the information that Soros owns stock in OSI Systems other than find a website that says so?
If so, he didn't mention it.
Meanwhile, the American Civil Liberties Union, which has been a vocal opponent of the use of full-body scanners, says that during a five-year fundraising campaign, it received “a $12 million contribution and an additional challenge grant from George Soros' Foundation, the Open Society Foundation.”
If Soros is trying to allocate his money so as to profit from unpopular policy decisions, he's not doing a very good job of it.