Fake News: When Leftist Foundations Fund Activism Posing As Journalism


Seton Motley President, Less Government
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#FakeNews is currently in the news “big league.”  Thanks to ridiculous BuzzFeed’s ridiculous release of a 35-page Donald Trump disinformation litany (to which we absolutely will not link).  A litany so fake that it was printed under the heading “Disinformation.”  But ridiculous BuzzFeed released it anyway.

This litany had been floating around Washington, D.C. for months – untouched by DC’s alleged journalists.  But DC’s alleged journalists — once BuzzFeed broke the seal – piled in behind them like Japanese subway commuters to further amplify it.

This is by no means the only flavor of fake news that exists.  Another long-standing-though-less-ballyhooed version is when Leftist foundations fund Leftist activists – who generate “news” that the media then mindlessly parrot, without any mention of the mammoth money behind it.  All the while, the media roundly lambastes much tinier right-of-center efforts to tell their story. 

For instance: You’ve of course heard of the libertarian Koch brothers, because the media have made sure of it.  The Kochs donate money to groups to advance free markets and the media goes bananas.  But the Koch coin isn’t even close to the real story:

(T)he Kochs…can’t hold a candle to the foundation funding machine on the Left, which largely operates outside of political disclosure rules and without much media scrutiny.  The… lack of media scrutiny — is the most troubling. Given how much time and energy Politico, The Washington Post, NPR, and much of the mainstream media spend on ‘Koch funding,’ you would think the Koch brothers were uniquely large political players. In reality, on a 2013 list of the top 100 U.S. foundations (by asset size), the Ford Foundation was #2, with 38 times more assets than the combined Koch groups. In fact, none of the Koch groups was even in the top 100 foundations by asset size or the top 100 foundations by annual giving. And yet, a recent Google News search showed almost three times more results for ‘Koch brothers’ than for ‘Ford Foundation.’

Screeching about the Koch brothers, while ignoring the much-more-massive Ford Foundation is fake news.  And is a template the media uses over and over.

Another huge player is the Rockefeller family’s network of philanthropic organizations.  And those, too, advocate and fund leftism, which the media dutifully reports all while assaulting Rockefeller’s victims for having the temerity to attempt to defend themselves.

For instance:

The Rockefeller Family Foundation (which has an endowment of about $130 million) has long targeted the oil industry and honed in on ExxonMobil last January….The agenda was to ‘establish in the public’s mind that Exxon is a corrupt institution that has pushed humanity (and all creation) toward climate chaos and grave harm’ and to ‘delegitimize’ Exxon as a political actor. The ultimate goal would include ‘getting discovery’ from ExxonMobil through legal action brought by public officials, thus ‘creating scandal’ around the country.  Participants at the meeting included activist groups like Greenpeace and Public Citizen, and trial lawyers who have won judgments against the industry before….

So the Rockeller Family Foundation was ramping up massive fake news assaults on Exxon.  And has since executed:

(T)wo Rockefeller family foundations have been involved in an advocacy campaign that accuses ExxonMobil of covering up what it knew about climate change….Meanwhile, Rockefeller foundations have funded journalism enterprises that have produced stories that overlap with the advocacy agenda.

“Funded journalism enterprises?”  Whatever do they mean?:

“(T)o be successful, the advocacy campaign needed to strike a chord in the media, and its key themes were covered by InsideClimate News, ‘an independent, not-for-profit, non-partisan news organization’ that covers energy issues ‘plus the territory in between where law, policy and public opinion are shaped.’”  But it depends on the meaning of the word “independent”: “The Rockefeller Brothers Fund is one of InsideClimate News’ biggest funders…

Rockefeller, Inc. didn’t come close to stopping there:

“The advocacy campaign’s argument was also amplified by the Columbia Journalism School and its dean, Steve Coll, a well-regarded, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who had previously been a top editor at the Washington Post, head of the New America Foundation and the author of several bestselling books. 

“Rockefeller family foundations donated more than $1 million to the New America Foundation after Coll was appointed to run it in 2007. His salary there quintupled over five years to $320,730, nonprofit disclosure forms show. During Coll’s years at the New America Foundation he wrote Private Empire, a sharply critical corporate biography of ExxonMobil.

“In 2012, Coll left New America and the following year signed on at Columbia. The two Rockefeller foundations donated a combined $300,000 to Columbia in 2013 and 2014, which helped underwrite a partnership between the university’s Energy & Environmental Reporting Project and the Los Angeles Times. They teamed up on a series that covered much of the same ground as the InsideClimateNews series and that also was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

“The stories (written by the students who took part in the fellowship) initially failed to disclose — until after ExxonMobil protested — that the Rockefeller family had donated to the Project, along with other liberal foundations like the Energy Foundation, Open Society Foundations and the Tellus Mater Foundation.”

All of this is wall-to-wall fake news.  Devised, spawned and funded by the Rockefeller Family Fund to launch salvo after salvo at ExxonMobil.  So of course the media had to have condemned it en toto, yes?  I kid: “(T)he Rockefellers have not only avoided criticism but have had their liberal do-gooder brand polished by, among others, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the New Yorker, the New York Review of Books and NPR (whose funders include the Rockefeller Foundation).”

Get that?  National Public Radio (NPR) gets money from the Rockefeller Foundation and then carries water for a sister Rockefeller organization.  In every way they can.  To wit:  ExxonMobil has, unsurprisingly, tried to fend off the Rockefeller-media tag team assault.  And the media has excoriated them for it, including, of course, NPR:

An NPR story last year thrashed the company for ‘pouring millions and millions of dollars’ into dozens of groups, ‘some of which were transparently industry front groups, and some of which were right-wing economics advocacy groups, that themselves spent decades in various degrees of climate denial.’

NPR is taking Rockefeller coin and criticizing Exxon.  For defending itself against Rockefeller coin-fed assaults – by the likes of NPR.  This is the tiniest of closed leftist circles.

And this cavalcade of fake news served as the precursor to the New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman-led years-long very real legal persecution of ExxonMobil

Which is simply the next phase of the Rockefellers’ calculated assault against ExxonMobil for having the audacity to engage in legal commerce and providing our nation a vital resource.

Just thought we should let you know.  Because the Fake News media won’t.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article incorrectly referred to the Rockefeller Family Fund as the Rockefeller Foundation. They are two distinct organizations.