Caldara repeated Soros falsehood; guest Jones attacked Media Matters while evading question about Face the State's funding

On his September 10 Newsradio 850 KOA show, Jon Caldara promoted the conservative falsehood that Media Matters for America, Colorado Media Matters' parent organization, “has reportedly been funded by [philanthropist] George Soros.” Media Matters repeatedly has debunked the claim that it receives funding from Soros, either directly or indirectly. Additionally, Face the State founder Brad Jones asserted that "Media Matters ... isn't quite honest with their funding" -- then deflected questions about his website's funding.

After Newsradio 850 KOA host Jon Caldara stated on his September 10 show that "Media Matters ... has reportedly been funded by George Soros," guest Brad Jones asserted that "Media Matters ... isn't quite honest with their funding." In fact, contrary to whatever might have been “reported[],” Media Matters for America -- the parent organization of Colorado Media Matters -- repeatedly has debunked the claim that it has received funding from philanthropist George Soros, either directly or indirectly. Jones also again deflected inquiries about funding for the website he operates, Face the State, saying, “I'll start talking about all of the books and how much I make and where it's coming in ... once all the ... leftist establishment in Colorado does the same thing.”

As Colorado Media Matters has noted, Caldara, who is president of the free-market think tank the Independence Institute, has previously repeated the falsehood that Soros funds Media Matters on his radio show and on public television KBDI Channel 12's Independent Thinking.

Later in his September 10 broadcast, Caldara claimed that when “the mainstream media” refer to his organization, “we are always, always labeled.” Caldara went on to ask, “Can you imagine [the Independence Institute] could ever go through The Denver Post or Rocky Mountain News without having the qualifier of 'conservative' or 'right leaning'?” In fact, Colorado Media Matters has identified examples of both the Post and the News reporting on the Independence Institute without identifying its conservative agenda.

Caldara's September 10 conversation with Jones echoed a similar conversation the two had on the August 24 broadcast of Independent Thinking when Jones deflected Caldara's repeated inquiries about Face the State's financing. Face the State describes itself as “a one-stop-shop for political news affecting Coloradans.” But as Colorado Media Matters has documented repeatedly (here, here, here, here, here, here, and here), Face the State frequently publishes misleading headlines on its aggregated news articles, employs the well-established conservative tactic of using the noun “Democrat” as an adjective instead of the grammatically correct “Democratic,” and makes other distortions to advance conservative viewpoints and denigrate liberal positions and political figures.

From the September 10 broadcast of Newsradio 850 KOA's The Jon Caldara Show:

CALDARA: We're talking with Brad Jones, who runs a online outfit called Face the State -- really worth taking a look at, it's FacetheState.com. By the way, let me just ask you a quick question to that -- we know, and there's been reports of funding of other, quote, “news organizations” -- you've got Media Matters, which has reportedly been funded by George Soros and others. What's Face the State?

JONES: Well, Face the State is, you know, an online news source. We are sometimes called a blog by, by folks who don't quite know the difference. I think there's a lot of different kinds of sites out there different kinds of agendas. You mentioned Media Matters, which, you know, isn't quite honest with their funding. We have investors; we're a for-profit outfit. We're here to get out news, and I'll start talking about all of the books and how much I make and where it's coming in once, once all the leftist, leftist establishment in Colorado does the same thing. And I'm not holding my breath.

As Colorado Media Matters pointed out after Caldara made a similar assertion on July 25, conservative figures such as media consultant Phil Kent and Fox News host Bill O'Reilly have falsely claimed that Soros channels money to Media Matters from the Open Society Institute (OSI) through the Tides Foundation or the Center for American Progress (CAP). Alternatively, other conservative figures have falsely claimed that Soros has funneled money to Media Matters through the Democracy Alliance.

In fact, OSI's income tax returns indicating grants to U.S. public charities show that every dollar OSI granted to Tides from 2001 to 2005 was earmarked for specific Tides-related programs and entities, and that Media Matters was not included on the list.

OSI's grants to Tides -- 2001

OSI's grants to Tides -- 2002

OSI's grants to Tides -- 2003

OSI's grants to Tides -- 2004

OSI's grants to Tides -- 2005

The available returns show that OSI has issued just two grants to CAP, both in 2005. According to the 2005 form, OSI granted $150,000 to CAP's Faith and Public Life Resource Center; it approved, but did not pay, a $110,000 grant to Campus Progress. Media Matters received no funding from CAP in 2005.

Media Matters also has not received funding from the Democracy Alliance, which does not itself make grants. Democracy Alliance founder Rob Stein explained during a November 30, 2006, forum hosted by the Hudson Institute titled “How Vast the Left Wing Conspiracy?” :

STEIN: It's very important to understand that the Alliance does not take in any money to distribute to groups. The money we take in pays our administrative costs. We are not a 501(c)(3). We are a taxable nonprofit organization. We recommend to our partners, and our partners then make decisions which organizations to support, and they are fully informed -- we have very good counsel -- of all the legal requirements of disclosure and limitations that come with supporting any of those types of vehicles.

Furthermore, The Washington Post reported on July 17, 2006, that the Democracy Alliance “endorse[s]” specific organizations and serves as a “cooperative for donors, allowing them to coordinate their giving so that it has more influence.” While Soros is identified as a member of the Democracy Alliance, he has never given money to Media Matters through the alliance or otherwise.

Later in the broadcast, Caldara referenced a September 9 article in The Denver Post in order to illustrate a “pet peeve” about the labeling of think tanks by “the mainstream media” :

CALDARA: Let me just go down the pet peeve aisle for just, just one second. As you know, my regular gig is running the free-market think tank the Independence Institute. Been around now for 22, 23 years. It's, it's old enough to buy alcohol legally now. And you know how we're usually treated in the mainstream media. We're either a conservative think tank -- rarely are we considered a free-market think tank -- but we are always, always labeled. I love how the left is treated in the mainstream media. Here's a piece by Jennifer Brown in yesterday's Denver Post:

CALDARA [reading]: “Surge of tax plans leading to overload. At least 17 proposals are in the works for '08, eliciting criticism from the right and possible limits from the governor. Pitches for new and increased taxes are stacking up, setting off criticism from fiscal conservatives and a vow from the governor's office to limit the number of proposals presented in 2008” -- meaning, of course, there will be some. “Among the plans discussed so far, a statewide bond issue to build new schools for the poorest districts. A 'junk-food tax' to fund health care for Colorado children. A new sales tax to help people with developmental disabilities. And the list goes on. An initiative to fund college tuition for the neediest students. An increased in motor fuels tax to repair roads and bridges. At last count, there are 17 proposals under consideration in Colorado -- from grass roots charter -- or, grass roots chatter -- to ballot initiatives already filed with the secretary of state -- according to The Bell Policy Center, a nonprofit research-and-advocacy group in Denver.”

What, wait, wait -- time out. Quick time out. Now, the Bell Policy Center, which is a well-funded answer to the Independence Institute -- which was started, really, to answer the Independence Institute, and by all means, glad to have them up and about. But could you imagine the free-market Independence Institute being mentioned in The Denver Post -- or in the Rocky Mountain News -- without the qualifier or descriptor “a conservative think tank,” or “a free-market think tank” ? Could you ever imagine our limited-government think tank, that's been around for 23 years, has pioneered the idea such as the flat tax rate, term limits, TABOR, open enrollment for schools, the school report-card system, charter schools, privatization of functions like RTD's bus services. All those things that have become reality over the years thanks to Independence Institute incubating all those ideas. Can you imagine that organization could ever go through The Denver Post or Rocky Mountain News without having the qualifier of “conservative” or “right leaning” ? But yet the left seems to get away with it. My, my, my, my, my. And the Bell Policy Center is simply a “nonprofit research-and-advocacy group in Denver.” That's funny. I coulda sworn they were a pro-tax, left-leaning, liberal organization.

Contrary to Caldara's suggestion, Colorado Media Matters has noted instances (here and here) when the Post and the News have failed to identify the Independence Institute as a “free-market, pro-freedom” policy research organization.