In her groundbreaking Foundations and Public Policy book, Joan Roelofs begins a chapter that examines foundation influence on social change organizations by asserting that "philanthropy suggests yet another explanation for the decline of the 1960s and 1970s protest movements." In Roelofs' view, "radical activism often was transformed by grants and technical assistance from liberal foundations into fragmented and local organizations subject to elite control" and "energies were channeled into safe, legalistic, bureaucratic activities."
Left media and left think tank staff people generally deny that the acceptance by their organizations of grants from liberal foundations has "transformed" their organizational priorities, made them "subject to elite control" or channeled their energies into "safe, legalistic, bureaucratic" activities. In 2001, for instance, the former executive director of the left media watchdog group Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting [FAIR], Jeff Cohen, told German journalist Anja Einfeldt of the German magazine Message: "There have never been strings attached to any grants. We have never been asked to tone down our criticism. If anyone tried, we would refuse the money." Another FAIR staff person also insisted that "the charitable foundations which we do accept funding from have no oversight or control over our work."
Yet in a 1998 article in The Nation (which the former FAIR executive director was credited with helping to frame), the executive director of the Institute for Policy Studies [IPS] between 1992 and 1998, Michael Shuman, wrote:
"A number of program officers at progressive foundations are former activists who decided to move from the demand to the supply side to enjoy better salaries, benefits and working hours. Yet they still want to live like activists vicariously…by exercising influence over grantees through innumerable meetings, reports, conferences and `suggestions.'…Many progressive funders treat their grantees like disobedient children who need to be constantly watched and disciplined."
A former staff person at the North American Congress on Latin America [NACLA] also recalled that in the late 1980s "in order to get to the next tier of foundation support in New York, you had to demonstrate that you were doing something in Washington."
In a September, 2002 e-mail, the executive director of the www.tompaine.com left media web site, John Moyers (a former executive with the Schumann Foundation, as well), also stated:
"Like any other grantee, I must report fully my activities and finances to ALL of my funders, including Schumann, on an annual basis…If they don't like what we're doing, we don't get funded for the next year."
According to the San Francisco Bay Guardian newspaper, "The foundation money has engendered a climate of secrecy at IAJ [Institute for Alternative Journalism n/k/a Independent Media Institute (IMI)] that's in direct conflict with IAJ's role as a progressive media organization." The same newspaper also asserted in 1997 that "the only money nonprofits can get these days is from private foundations--and those foundations want to control the political agenda."
In his "Getting Behind The Media: What are the subtle tradeoffs of foundation support for journalists?" article, Rick Edmonds observed:
"When they show up with much-needed funding for an investigative series or pay the freight for a reporter working on an underreported beat, foundations don't receive the same due-diligence scrutiny for hidden subtext that journalists apply to a corporate press release or a politician's statement. The effect that foundation money may have on the news business is subtle but real, and increasingly troubling on the ethical front…The lack of overt editorial should not blind us to the more subtle, one might say cultural, ties that bind these news organizations to their funders. There is, for example, any number of opportunities for grant makers to shape the editorial product as it is developed. If the foundations' and recipients' goals have been properly `aligned' not much more money may be needed to see that the intent is carried out.
"Lost in the benevolent fog that surrounds most foundations is the notion that they may have more of an agenda, not less, than a sponsoring corporation. Cultural affinity can sometimes make it difficult for editors and journalists to draw the distinction between accepting a grant and accepting a funder's point of view."
In an interview with Message magazine, I also argued that:
"The acceptance by media watchdog groups of large sums of money from U.S. Establishment foundations may raise legitimate conflict-of-interest issues. They may tend to avoid providing readers, listeners or viewers with much critical alternative news coverage of the global business and political activities of their multi-billion dollar foundation funders."
Whether or not you agree that left media organizations and think tanks have been channeled into a more mainstream and politically ineffectual direction--or are specially-influenced-- by their liberal foundation funders, the evidence is overwhelming that large amounts of liberal foundation grant money have been thrown towards left media groups and think tanks since the early 1990s.
In an article that appeared in the March/April 1995 issue of the left media group FAIR's Extra! magazine, "Foundations for a Movement," the then-assistant publisher of In These Times magazine, Beth Schulman, asserted that between 1990 and 1993, "I can identify only $269,500 in combined grants from private foundations for the four leading progressive publications: The Nation (through its affiliate, the Nation Institute), Mother Jones, The Progressive and In These Times." Schulman also claimed in a note in Table I of this article that "reports for magazines on the left are more complete than reports for magazines on the right."
Schulman's $269,500 figure for 1990-1993 grants to The Nation, Mother Jones, The Progressive, and In These Times, however, did not completely reflect the degree to which the U.S. left media was receiving foundation money either between 1990 and 1993 or by 1995, when her article was published. A 1992 grant of $25,000 to The Nation/Nation Institute from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation "for expenses for participants of International Conference of Investigative Journalists after the Cold War," for instance, was not identified by Schulman. Nor did Schulman mention a $150,000 grant from the John D. and Catharine T. MacArthur Foundation that The Progressive Media Project received in 1994 or a $500,000 grant from the Schumann Foundation that Mother Jones/Foundation for National Progress received in 1995.
In addition, Schulman failed to include in her calculation the grants received by left publications other than The Nation, Mother Jones, The Progressive, and In These Times, such as FAIR's Extra! magazine, Political Research Associates' Public Eye magazine or Harper's Magazine (whose publisher is also an official of the J.Roderick MacArthur Foundation). Extra! magazine/FAIR, for instance received at least $400,000 in grants from private foundations between 1990 and 1995, including: a $20,000 grant from the Rockefeller Family Foundation in 1991; a $25,000 grant from the Aaron Diamond Foundation in 1992; a $15,000 grant from the Joyce Mertz-Gilmore Foundation in 1992; a $15,000 grant from the Foundation for Deep Ecology in 1992; $50,000 in grants from the Sister Fund between 1992 and 1996; and $75,000 a year in grants from the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation between 1992 and 1996. As the program officer responsible for the MacArthur Foundation's media program told Aquarian/Downtown in 1997:
"MacArthur is funding Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting. And in '96, they received $75,000 towards the cost of operations. We've been funding it since 1992, at approximately the same level. It was slightly higher a few years ago, when the media budget was a little bigger."
Between 1993 and 1996, Political Research Associates/Public Eye magazine also received grants of $80,000 from the Nathan Cummings Foundation, $90,000 from the Public Welfare Foundation, $69,2060 from the Tides Foundation and $75,000 from the List Foundation; while Harper's Magazine (whose publisher, Rick MacArthur, is also an official of the J.Roderick MacArthur Foundation) has been subsidized by either John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation or J.Roderick MacArthur Foundation grants since the early 1980s.
Since the publication of Schulman's 1995 Extra! article, the extent to which liberal foundations have been funding left media and think tanks has increased. In 1998, for instance, the Ford Foundation gave Progressive magazine a $200,000 grant. That same year, the Rockefeller Foundation also gave a $50,000 grant to Progressive magazine. In 2000, the Ford Foundation gave two more grants, totaling $250,000, to Progressive magazine; and, in 2002, an additional $120,000 in grant money was also given to Progressive magazine by the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
By 2001, The Nation magazine/Nation Institute had been given at least $135,000 by Bill Moyers' Schumann Foundation between 1991 and 2001.
Another foundation on whose board Bill Moyers sat, George Soros's Open Society Institute, also gave a $50,000 grant to the Nation Institute in 1999 "to support project to improve performance and reach of Radio Nation, weekly public radio news and commentary program." Coincidentally, an official of the Nation Institute, Hamilton Fish III, was also a personal advisor for politics of George Soros. In 1997, Soros's Open Society Institute had previously given a $10,000 grant to The Nation/ Nation Institute. Other foundation grants received by The Nation/Nation Institute in 1997 included a $30,000 grant from the Arca Foundation and a $50,000 grant from the Merck Fund.
A member of both The Nation Institute board and the board of the Public Broadcasting Service [PBS] (until 2000), Catharine Stimpson, was also the director of the Fellows Program of the MacArthur Foundation, responsible for distributing millions of dollars of "genius grants" each year, between 1994 and 1997. The John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation also gave a $20,000 grant to The Nation/Nation Institute in 1997 "to publish and publicize series on NATO expansion."
The Nation/Nation Institute also received large grants from both the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation and the List Foundation following the publication of Schulman's article in Extra! magazine. In 1998, the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation gave a $50,000 grant to The Nation/Nation Institute's Center for Democracy Studies, while in 2000, the List Foundation gave The Nation/Nation Institute two grants, totaling $55,000. One grant of $10,000 was to help subsidize the Radio Nation show. The second List Foundation grant to The Nation/Nation Institute in 2000 was a $45,000 grant to fund its "Project on Media Ownership." In addition, the Public Welfare Foundation gave The Nation/Nation Institute a $10,000 "charitable" grant for "contribution to Jack Newfield fellowship." Former Microsoft executive and current RealNetworks Inc. CEO Rob Glaser's foundation, the Glaser Progress Foundation, also gave a $50,155 grant to The Nation/Nation Institute in 2000 "for research grants to independent journalists." Yet another grant of $10,000 was given by the List Foundation to The Nation/Nation Institute in 2003 for "investigative reporting."
Mother Jones/Foundation for National Progress also received more grants from the liberal foundations following the publication of Schulman's 1995 article. In 1996, a second grant of $150,000 was given to Mother Jones by Bill Moyers' Schumann Foundation "to support the hiring of a new senior editor at Mother Jones magazine." That same year, two grants, totaling $32,000, were given to Mother Jones by the California Wellness Foundation and a $30,000 grant was given to Mother Jones by the Joyce Foundation. In 1997, an additional grant of $100,000 was given to Mother Jones/Foundation for National Progress by Bill Moyers' Schumann Foundation, while a grant of $35,000 from the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation flowed to Mother Jones in 1998. A $10,000 grant was also given to another left media group, In These Times magazine/Institute for Public Affairs, by the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in 1998 "for conference about state of American democracy and role of popular movements within it."
Former Microsoft Vice-President and current RealNetworks Inc. CEO Rob Glaser's foundation, the Glaser Progress Foundation, also has provided grants to Mother Jones/Foundation for National Progress since 1995. In 1999, a grant of $111,233 was given by the Glaser Progress Foundation to Mother Jones/Foundation for National Progress for the MoJo Wire Project. The following year, the Glaser Progress Foundation gave another grant of $100,096 to Mother Jones/Foundation for National Progress "for general support" of its MoJo Wire Project.
Besides including Body Shop entrepreneur Anita Roddick [now-deceased], the Mother Jones/Foundation for National Progress board of directors also has included representatives of the Kadima Foundation, the HKH Foundation and the Adam Hochschild Charitable Trust/Sequoia Fund. The wife of Mother Jones/Foundation for National Progress board member Adam Hochschild was also given a $3 million grant in 1997 by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation "to establish a Center for Working Families," at UC-Berkeley. In 2003, Mother Jones/Foundation for National Progress was also given a $10,000 grant by the List Foundation for its "Washington Watchdog" project.
Following Extra! magazine's publication of Schulman's "Foundations for The Movement" article in 1995, liberal foundation funding for FAIR/Extra! magazine continued. In 1996, Bill Moyers' Schumann Foundation gave FAIR/Extra! magazine an additional $15,000; and a post-2000 grant of between $50,000 and $100,000 was also given to FAIR/Extra! magazine by the Schumann Foundation. In 1998, another John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation grant of $150,000 was also given to FAIR/Extra! magazine. The Tides Foundation also gave a $20,000 grant in 1996 and a $31,512 grant in 2000 to FAIR/Extra! . In 2001, FAIR/Extra!' was also given a $20,000 grant by former Microsoft Vice-President and RealNetworks Inc.' CEO Glaser's foundation, the Glaser Progress Foundation, for its "Action Alert Network", in order to "increase demand for more balanced news from mainstream media."
After Schulman's article appeared in Extra!, the Ford Foundation also began giving grants to FAIR/Extra! magazine in a big way. The Working Assets Radio web site noted in 2001: "As the founder of the Women's Desk at the media watchdog FAIR, Flanders received a $200,000 grant from the Ford Foundation for a collaborative project to combat racism and sexism in the news." In 1997 or 1998, a second grant of $150,000 was given by the Ford Foundation to FAIR/Extra!; and, in 2001, yet another $150,000 grant was given to FAIR/Extra! by the Ford Foundation for "general support to monitor and analyze the performance of the news media in the United States."
Political Research Associates/Public Eye magazine also continued to receive large grants from the liberal foundations after the publication of Schulman's "Foundations For The Movement" article in 1995. In 1999, for instance, Political Research Associates/Public Eye was given: a $50,000 grant by the Public Welfare Foundation; a $120,000 grant by the San Francisco Foundation; a $57,550 grant by the Tides Foundation; a $55,000 grant by the Cummings Foundation; a $25,000 grant by the List Foundation; and a $15,000 grant by the Ms. Foundation for Women. (The Ms. Foundation for Women, itself, was the recipient of: a $4.5 million grant for "an endowment campaign" and a $500,000 grant for "enhancing operational capacity" from the Ford Foundation in 1993; an $800,000 grant from the Ford Foundation in 2000; and a $430,000 grant from the Ford Foundation in 2001).
Political Research Associates/Public Eye magazine was also given an additional $50,000 grant by the Public Welfare Foundation and a grant of $175,663 by the Ford Foundation in 2002. Yet another grant of $100,000 from the Public Welfare Foundation was thrown to Political Research Associates/Public Eye in 2003. That same year, another $10,000 grant was given to Political Research Associates/Public Eye by the List Foundation.
Another left media group which has been receiving heavy funding from the liberal foundations since the 1990s is the Independent Media Institute [IMI]/AlterNet. In 1994, for instance, [when it was known as the Institute for Alternative Journalism) it received a $35,000 grant from Bill Moyers' Schumann Foundation. In 1995, it received: a $120,000 grant from the Schumann Foundation: a $50,000 grant from the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; a $50,000 grant from the Ford Foundation; and two grants, totaling $74,000, from the List Foundation. The following year, it was given a $200,000 grant by the Schumann Foundation to help fund its "Media & Democracy Conference." An additional grant of $30,000 was also given to the IMI/AlterNet by the List Foundation in 2000. In 1999, George Soros's Open Society Institute also gave a $78,660 grant to IMI/AlterNet "to fund start-up of Youth Source, a youth web site which will be part of a larger web portal, independent Source." According to its web site, IMI/AlterNet continues to be funded by the Ford Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation of New York.
In 2001, former Microsoft Vice-President and RealNetworks Inc. CEO Rob Glaser's foundation, the Glaser Progress Foundation, gave a $35,000 grant to IMI/AlterNet "to support its online magazine." The following year, an additional grant of $20,000 was given to IMI/AlterNet by the Glaser Progress Foundation.
Another left media group--the Independent Press Association--is also being heavily funded by the Rockefeller Foundation. Between November 25, 2002 and December 1, 2003, for instance, the Rockefeller Foundation gave four grants, totaling $445,000, to the Independent Press Association. A $100,000 individual grant was also given to an exeutive director of the Independent Press Association-NY by the Ford Foundation in 2003.
Like the left media, left think tanks have also been receiving large amounts of money from liberal foundations since the 1990s. As Roelofs observes:
"There are some think tanks considered left wing or Progressive. They do important work, especially in documenting the activities, and consequences of corporate and government policies. Nevertheless, almost all are funded by the liberal foundations; their challenges to the system are muted…There are several possible explanations for the mellowing that has occurred, including foundation funding and, sometimes, foundation staff joining the boards of funded institutes."
In a 1998 article that appeared in The Nation, the Institute for Policy Studies [IPS]'s executive director and "fund-raiser-in-chief" for six years, Michael Shuman, noted that "foundations that support progressive causes actually have lots of money, more than their conservative counterparts." The former IPS executive director also observed that "over the past fifteen years, I've raised more than $12 million from foundations."
According to Shuman, by 1998 the lPS left think tank had received grants from four of the ten largest U.S. foundations. In 1995, for instance, the IPS was given two grants, totaling $100,000, from the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Two more grants were given to the IPS by the MacArthur Foundation in 1998: a $525,000 grant "to develop global affairs agenda for U.S. and to mobilize constituency for its support"; and a second grant of $50,000. In addition, the IPS left think tank was given a $110,000 grant by the Arca Foundation in 1996 and a $123,060 grant from Bill Moyers' Schumann Foundation in 1998.
Following the 1998 publication of its former executive director's Nation article, the IPS has continued to receive large grants from liberal foundations. In 2000, for instance, grants given to IPS included: a $50,000 grant from the MacArthur Foundation; two grants, totaling $233,370 from the Ford Foundation; a $200,000 grant from the Rockefeller Foundation; and a $100,000 grant from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. The following year, an additional grant of $350,00 "in support of the Foreign Policy in Focus Project" was given to the IPS by the MacArthur Foundation and two additional grants, totaling $95,000, was given to the IPS by the Ford Foundation. In 2003, the List Foundation also gave a $10,000 grant to the IPS for "general support" of its "Democracy Action Project."
Also in 2001, former Institute for Policy Studies executive director and "fund-raiser-in-chief" Shuman wrote an article, entitled "Why I Won't Sign", for Progressive magazine that endorsed the Bush Administration's post-9/11 military attack on Afghanistan. In his November, 2001 Progressive magazine article, the former IPS executive director and "fund-raiser-in-chief" stated:
"I applauded President Clinton's intervention in Haiti, Bosnia, and Kosovo…If alliances are built with strong internal opposition to the Taliban, force can certainly weaken the terrorist network thriving in that country…I support the steps President Bush took to freeze financial assets and get Saudi Arabia to break diplomatic ties with the Taliban…There was a serious debate on which progressives should have engaged, and it's not whether force should have been used. It's what kind of force…People like me…offer qualified endorsement of the use of force…"
A few months later, in the February 18, 2002 issue of Rupert Murdoch's right-wing Weekly Standard magazine, a second article appeared by former IPS executive director Shuman, entitled "My Fellow Lefties…Stop It With the American-bashing," in which the IPS's "fund-raiser-in-chief" between 1992 and 1998 argued:
"I believe it's time for my fellow leftists to engage in a truly radical activity--serious self-criticism…Contrary to predictions from leftist skeptics, the Bush administration did not respond immediately with a massive counterstrike [after 9/11]. It took several weeks to build its case against bin Laden, to offer the Taliban peaceful ways out…The position of the Bush administration--that the best way to prevent a humanitarian disaster was to quickly oust the Taliban regime--turned out to be correct…
"…The attempt to draw moral equivalence between the terrorists and U.S. troops is reprehensible…The former increased the chances of civilian deaths by hiding among civilians; the latter sought, however, imperfectly to avoid civilian targets…The vast majority of progressive opinion leaders were wrong in almost every respect…They predicted that American soldiers in Afghanistan would find themselves in a quagmire…The vast majority of women, blacks, Latinos, the elderly and the poor all understood the purpose and justification of U.S. military action. Only the leadership of the Left confused its hatred of American militarism with the legitimate self-defense."
As of December 2003, the number of Afghan civilians killed since the Bush Administration's launched its war on Afghanistan to replace the Taliban regime with one more subservient to special U.S. corporate interests was 24,000, while the number of Afghan civilians seriously injured, since the Pentagon's October 2001 attack, was 5,924. As of May 2003, the number of Afghan troops killed since the October 2001 Pentagon attack was 8,000 and the number of Afghan troops severely wounded was 2,400. One hundred U.S. troops were killed and 564 U.S. troops were seriously wounded, as of January 2004, since the U.S. military launched its war on Afghanistan that the former IPS executive director endorsed. As of September 21, 2009, 841 U.S. troops have been killed in Afghanistan, since the U.S. military launched its war on Afghanistan that the former IPS executive director endorsed.
Another left think tank, the Institute for Women's Policy Research, has also been the recipient of liberal foundation grants. In 1996, for instance, the Institute for Women's Policy research was given: a $100,000 grant by the Ford Foundation; a $100,000 grant by the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; and a $50,00 grant by the Joyce Foundation. In addition, a $250,000-plus, individual "genius grant" was given to the executive director of the Institute for Women's Policy Research, Heidi Hartmann, by the MacArthur Foundation in 1994. In 2004, an additional grant of $180,000 was given to the Institute for Women's Policy Research by the Ford Foundation.
Among the additional left think tanks that have been funded by the liberal foundations since the 1990s are the Institute for Public Accuracy [IPA], the Institute for Media Analysis/Democracy Now!, the North American Congress on Latin America [NACLA], the Middle East Research & Information Project [MERIP] and the Interhemispheric Resource Center [IRC].
Bill Moyers' Schumann Foundation, for instance, gave the Institute for Public Accuracy [IPA] a $100,000 grant in 1997 "for efforts to hold think tanks to high standards of accuracy." According to IPA executive director Norman Solomon:
"It's only because of a few funders that IPA has been able to function with appreciable resources. A `Public Interest Pioneer' grant from the Stern Family Fund enabled me to found the Institute for Public Accuracy. The Florence and John Schumann Foundation and an individual donor made it possible for IPA to open its media office in Washington. The Arca Foundation and Deer Creek Foundation recently gave us grants."
The Stern Family Fund grant to the IPA that Solomon mentions was a grant of $100,000.
In 2001, former Microsoft executive and Real Networks Inc. CEO Rob Glaser's foundation, the Glaser Progress Foundation, also gave the IPA a $34,896 grant for "general support." An additional grant of $20,000 for "general support" was given to the IPA by Rob Glaser's foundation in 2002. The List Foundation also gave a $10,000 grant to the IPA in 2003.
The Institute for Media Analysis/Democracy Now! think tank/radio show also has received grants from the Glaser Progress Foundation. In 2001, for instance, the Glaser Progress Foundation gave the Institute for Media Analysis/Democracy Now!'s "War and Peace Report" a grant of $40,000 "to support the daily national television news program." The following year, the Glaser Progress Foundation gave a second grant of $60,000 to the Institute for Media Analysis/Democracy Now! "for support of Amy Goodman's Democracy Now!". In 2003, yet another grant of $100,000, "for support of the newscast Democracy Now!" was given to Institute for Media Analysis/Democracy Now! by former Microsoft Vice-President and RealNetwork Inc. CEO Glaser's foundation.
The J. Roderick MacArthur Foundation--whose vice-chairman is Harper's Magazine publisher Rick MacArthur--also gave the Institute for Media Analysis/Democracy Now! think-tank/radio show two grants, totalling $85,000, in 2001. The following year, another grant of $100,000 was given to the Institute for Media Analysis by the Lannan Foundation.
Examining "The Rockefeller Empire: Latin America," in the March 1969 issue of its NACLA Newsletter, the North American Congress on Latin America [NACLA] think tank made the following references to foundations in its "An Overview of the Rockefeller Empire" introductory section:
"Through a network of over 13 foundations, 75 family trusts and other mechanisms of high finance, the Rockefellers maintain a dominant interest in some of the world's largest oil companies…Each brother has a particular area of the family empire to oversee; John D., III, the eldest, is the `philanthropist.' He heads the Rockefeller Foundation and has a particular interest in the Far East (especially Japan) and `population control,' (he founded the Population Council)…The brothers are the epitome of the East Coast Establishment. Their third generation wealth is managed for them by institutions which they control (especially foundations, Rockefeller Brothers, Inc. and trusts)…"
Despite its past political critique of "philanthropic foundations," however, "about 25%" of NACLA's "revenue comes from project-oriented foundation grants" these days, according to its web site.
Between 1998 and 2004, for instance, NACLA was given at least $661,000 in grant money by the Ford Foundation. In 1998, the Ford Foundation gave NACLA a grant of $11,000 "toward special report on collective memory of violence in Latin America." In 2000, another grant of $160,000 was given by the Ford Foundation to NACLA to "support research for special reports on the changing shape of human rights advocacy in Latin America and on U.S.-Latin-American relations in the post-Cold War Era, and their dissemination." The following year, yet another grant of $165,000 was given to NACLA by the Ford Foundation. A grant of $325,000 was also given by the Ford Foundation to NACLA in 2003.
The left think tank that's been focusing on Middle East issues since the 1970s, the Middle East Research & Information Project [MERIP], also was being funded by the Ford Foundation by the 1990s. As it noted in a March 11, 1999 press release: "Thanks to a generous grant from the Ford Foundation, MERIP is now embarking on a multi-faceted Media Outreach and Policy Shaping Project."
A member of MERIP's editorial committee who was responsible for its Middle East Report journal's reviews is also a former program officer for the Ford Foundation and Rockefeller Foundation-funded Civil Society in Middle East Center of NYU.
In 2000, the Ford Foundation also gave a $300,000 grant to the Interhemispheric Resource Center [IRC]. The following year, a grant of $350,000 was given to the Interhemispheric Resource Center by the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation "in support of the Foreign Policy in Focus Project."
In 2003, an additional grant of $150,000 was given by the Ford Foundation to the IRC to provide "core support for the Foreign Policy in Focus Project to build support for multilateralism in U.S. foreign policy." The Rockefeller Foundation also gave a $150,000 grant to the IRC on December 19, 2002.
Prominent U.S. left writers have also received large individual grants from different foundations. Noam Chomsky, for instance, was given a $350,000 Kyoto Prize grant by the Inamori Foundation in 1988. A $60,000 grant was given to Barbara Ehrenreich by the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in the 1990s while she wrote a book on "Holy War: Blood Sacrifiec and the Religious Root of Militarism." The MacArthur Foundation also gave a $350,000-plus "genius grant" to Adriene Rich during the 1990s. Another prominent U.S. left writer, Adolph Reed, was also given a $96,442 grant by the Carnegie Corporation of New York in 2002 "for a project entitled `Race in American Life."
Supporters of left media and think tank grant-hustling activity generally argue that grants from liberal power elite foundations are necessary for left movement groups to: "level the playing field" in the contest for U.S. public opinion; and to compete effectively in public policy debates with the right-wing media and think tanks which right-wing elite foundations subsidize. According to Beth Schulman:
"Unencumbered grant income makes it possible, for example, to ensure that key staff members on Capitol Hill get a complimentary copy of every issue of a magazine. Public and university libraries can be offered free or subsidized subscriptions. Furthermore, the magazines can afford the staff time to promote individual stories and writers, to build relationships with op-ed page editors, talkshow hosts and broadcast producers."
Schulman also argues that left media and think tanks require grants from liberal power elite foundations because right-wing elite foundations "sponsor think tanks, academic seminars, conferences for journalists and campus newspaper internships." Roelofs notes, however, that "there is not a conflict of interest when corporate money goes to produce pro-corporate ideology," while "the dependence of the `Left' press on elite subsidies can result in mellowing and avoiding topics embarrassing to the funders."
Like many left and liberal critics of the right-wing elite foundation funding of right-wing media and groups, however, Schulman does not object to what Roelofs has characterized as "the hegemonic role of foundations" within an undemocratic, corporate-dominated, imperialist U.S. society. U.S. left media and think tank executives who have tried to imitate the economically undemocratic U.S. right-wing approach to political movement-building still generally reject corporate sponsorship of their political or media activity (unless a corporate sponsor is engaged in "socially responsible" investing). But their failure to challenge "the hegemonic role" within U.S. society of the "progressive foundations" which fund their groups resembles the failure of U.S. right-wing media and think tank executives to challenge "the hegemonic role" of the right-wing foundations, despite right-wing criticism of the activity of the "liberal foundations."
Left media groups and think tanks which finance their journalistic activity and political work by soliciting grants from liberal power elite foundations like the Ford Foundation generally deny that they are acting in either a politically or morally compromising way. Some supporters of acceptance of foundation grants by left media groups, for instance, asserted (on the Free Pacifica e-mail list in the late 1990s) that it's not important where the left media gets its money from, as long as they use the foundation grant money for anti-corporate, progressive purposes.
But left sociologist James Petras, in an article entitled "The Ford Foundation and the CIA: A documented case of philanthropic collaboration with the Secret Police", argues that "the Ford Foundation has in some ways refined their style of collaboration with Washington's attempt to produce world cultural domination, but retained the substance of that policy."
In Petras's view, the Ford Foundation "has developed a sophisticated strategy of funding human rights groups [HRG] that appeal to Washington to change its policy while denouncing U.S. adversaries for their `systematic' violations." According to Petras, "the ties between the top officials of the Ford Foundation and the U.S. government are explicit and continuing." Petras also claims that the Ford Foundation "has never funded any major project that contravenes U.S. policy."
In her Foundations and Public Policy chapter on "Social Change Organizations," Roelofs indicates the various ways that foundation funding of U.S. left groups appear to have exercised a special influence over the political direction of the U.S. left since the 1970s. Foundation grants to one left group rather than another enables liberal power elite foundations to steer the U.S. left's agenda so that "threatening alternatives" don't appear on the serious political agenda. More militant left groups which the elite foundation boards or program managers regard as "irresponsible" or "unrealistic" are not funded: and, as a result, are more easily excluded from left political discourse than are the left groups favored with foundation grants.
Foundations can influence unfunded left groups to change the design of their projects and structure in accordance with a foundation board's special agenda, in order to qualify for grants from a particular foundation. Foundations can influence a left groups' choice of leaders by only giving grants to left groups whose leaders they regard as politically unthreatening. Foundations can promote "the fragmentation of protest" on the U.S. Left by using their grants to create and sustain "a universe of overlapping and competing social change organizations" and discouraging the unification of U.S. left dissident groups. As Roelofs notes:
"It is to the elite's advantage to be countered by a `mass movement' consisting of fragmented, segmented, local, and nonideological bureaucracies doing good works and, furthermore, being dependent on foundations for support. Diverse organizations emphasize differences among the disadvantaged: ethnic, racial, sexual, rural-urban, or age, and they discourage a broad left recognizing common interests."
In an article entitled "`Alternative' media paymasters: Carlyle, ALCOA, Xerox, Coca Cola…?", Brian Salter makes a strong case against continued reliance by authentically left media and think tanks on liberal Establishment foundation funding of their activity. After exposing and examining the power elite, corporate and political connections of some of the folks who sit on the boards of foundations like the Ford Foundation, Salter concludes:
"The big establishment foundations are likely to seek out `alternative' media that is more bark than bite, which they can rely on to ignore and dismiss sensitive topics…as `irrational distractions' or `conspiracy theory.' Recipients of funding will always protest that they are not swayed by any conflicts of interest and don't allow the sources of funding to affect their decisions, but whether or not these claims are actually true is already somewhat of a red herring. The more important question is, what sort of `alternative' journalism garners the goodwill of the Ford Foundation's corporate rogues' gallery in the first place? Or the Rockefeller Foundation? Or Carnegie, Soros and Schumann?
"Judging by the journalism being offered (and not offered) by Nation magazine, FAIR, Pacifica, Progressive magazine, IPA, Mother Jones, AlterNet, and other recipients of their funding, the big establishment foundations are successfully sponsoring the kind of `opposition' that the U.S. ruling elite can tolerate and live with."
Or to put it in an even more concise way: The People United, will never be defeated! But a Movement of Grant-Hustlers will continue to be defeated by a U.S. power elite, when its foundation money is allowed to manipulate the political agenda of the Movement and the People.
All Power To The People--Not The Foundations!
The U.S. Left Movement belongs to the People--Not The Foundations!