Relying on tax returns and websites of wealthy U.S. foundations, a Daily Caller investigation has revealed the sources of more than $28.8 million in funding collected by the liberal Media Matters for America since 2003, the year before its formal incorporation. That sum represents 54 percent of every dollar the organization has raised in its history, making Media Matters a principally foundation-driven — not citizen-supported — activist group.
The list of Media Matters’ foundation funders, 120 in all, reads like a Who’s Who of the American progressive movement, including the far-left Tides Foundation ($4,384,702), George Soros’ Open Society Institutes ($1,075,000), the Ford Foundation ($966,466), the Sandler Foundation ($400,000) — endowed by subprime mortgage lenders Herb and Marion Sandler, who once bankrolled the embattled ACORN organization — and the Schumann Fund for Media and Democracy ($600,000), managed by longtime PBS host Bill Moyers and his son.
They also include the anti-George W. Bush organization MoveOn.org ($50,000), the Barbra Streisand Foundation ($85,000), the kids’ shoes-powered Stride Rite Charitable Foundation ($25,000), the Lear Family Foundation ($55,000) — endowed by the TV producer and People for the American Way founder Norman Lear — and the Joyce Foundation ($400,000), whose board of directors included Barack Obama from 1994 to 2002.
The Joyce Foundation grant, made in 2010, was earmarked for “a gun and public safety issue initiative.” That program, judging from the ensuing Media Matters coverage, included scathing reports on the shooting-sports lobby and on the firearms industry’s annual convention. “To lure repeat buyers,” that story warned, “increased lethality has become the nicotine of the firearms industry.”
2010 was also, TheDC reported Monday, the year when Media Matters founder David Brock’s personal assistant was carrying a holstered and concealed Glock handgun when he accompanied Brock to events.
The Daily Caller is publishing spreadsheets describing all the grants to Media Matters it has identified, how much each donor contributed overall, and for what purpose, if any, their donations were earmarked. Most grants were described in foundations’ tax returns as “general support” contributions.
TheDC reported Thursday that the ARCA Foundation, a Democratic-aligned philanthropy, made a $50,000 grant to Media Matters in 2006 for the specific purpose of “fact checking” religious broadcasters. ARCA also gave Media Matters $100,000 in startup funding two years earlier. But in the larger context of the $53.4 million the organization has raised since 2003, $150,000 is a drop in the proverbial bucket.
Non-profit organizations like Media Matters are permitted to keep their sources of support secret, but grantmaking foundations are required to disclose how much they give away each year, and to whom. According to the Foundation Center, U.S. foundations distributed more than $45.7 billion in 2009. Their publicly available tax returns make it possible to reconstruct non-profit grant recipients’ once-secret incomes to a great degree.