Sunday, February 18, 2018

In The Pay of Foundations: How U.S. power elite foundations fund a "parallel left" media network--Part 6

Owned Philly Newspaper where Democracy Now! Co-Host worked & funded NAHJ 
In The Pay of Foundations—Part 6

How U.S. power elite and liberal establishment foundations fund a “parallel left” media network of left media journalists and gatekeepers.

Democracy Now! part-time co-host Juan Gonzalez’s career as a professional journalist in the corporate media world began in 1979 after his journalism course instructor at Temple University, who was a moonlighting editor at the Philadelphia Daily News evening newspaper of the Knight-Ridder corporate media firm, that also owned the Philadelphia Inquirer morning daily newspaper, encouraged Gonzalez to apply for a clerical job at the Philadelphia Daily News in late 1978; and he was soon promoted to be a full-time reporter for the newspaper by early 1979.

Prior to merging with the super-rich Ridder dynasty’s newspaper chain in 1974, to create a newspaper chain of 35 daily and 25 Sunday newspapers that made Knight-Ridder the largest U.S. corporate newspaper chain at that time, the super-rich Knight dynasty had purchased its two Philadelphia newspapers from the super-rich Walter Annenberg’s corporate media conglomerate for $55 million [equivalent to over $369 million in 2018] in 1969. When Gonzalez began working for the Knight-Ridder corporate media firm’s Philadelphia Daily News in 1979, John “Jack” Knight and James "Jim" Knight owned 30 percent of Knight-Ridder’s stock, three Ridder dynasty members owned 7 percent of Knight-Ridder’s stock and the Knight-Ridder board of directors included John Knight, James Knight and the three Ridder dynasty members.

After John “Jack” Knight died two years later, much of the $200 million [equivalent to over $542 million in 2018] worth of Knight-Ridder/Philadelphia Daily News stock which he owned in 1981 was left to the “non-profit” Knight Foundation, to avoid payment of heavy estate taxes. As the Knight Foundation’s 1995 Annual Report noted:

“When John S. Knight died in 1981, he left to the Foundation most of his holdings in Knight-Ridder…James L. Knight succeeded his brother as chairman, and Lee Hills, former Knight-Ridder chief executive officer, was put in charge of planning the transition from a small foundation to one of the largest in the United States…The number of trustees was increased to 13, including two of James Knight’s daughters…”

Knight Dynasty Media Barons of 20th Century: John Knight and James Knight
And when Gonzalez left the Philadelphia Daily News between late 1987 and early 1988 to begin working for the New York Daily News  (which was then owned by the Chicago-based Tribune corporate media conglomerate that also owned the WPIX-TV station in New York City), the Knight Foundation still owned a big chunk of Knight-Ridder stock, James Knight personally still owned 14 percent of Knight-Ridder’s stock, now worth about $439 million [equivalent to over $987 million in 2018], and the three Ridder dynasty members also continued to own Knight-Ridder newspaper chain stock. Then, when James “Jim” Knight died in February 1991, he also left $200 million [equivalent to over $318 million in 2018] to the Knight Foundation.

So by early 1996, when Knight-Ridder’s former Philadelphia Daily News-turned New York Daily News columnist became Democracy Now!’s co-host, the Knight Foundation owned “2,630,451 shares…of common stock of Knight-Ridder Inc., which represented 17.2 percent…of the Foundation’s assets” that was worth around $165 million [equal to around $263 million in 2018], according to the Knight Foundation’s 1995 Annual Report. In addition, in 1996 the “non-profit” Knight Foundation also owned $409 million [equal to over $656 million in 2018] worth of stock in other profit-oriented corporations, as well as $52 million [equal to $83 million in 2018] worth of real estate. And according to its 1995 Annual Report:

“Overall, Knight Foundation’s portfolio returned 25.7 percent in 1995…The Foundation’s assets totaled $957.5 million [equal to over $1.5 billion in 2018] at the end of 1995, an increase of $212 million from the previous year…Investments added $195 million in value.”

Yet “the Foundation” was “not subject to federal income tax;” and only $26 million of the Knight Foundation’s $212 million increase in assets was redistributed to its grant recipients, according to the same annual report.

Besides having worked for a Philadelphia newspaper owned, in part, by the Knight Foundation during the 1980s, Gonzalez also helped establish the National Association of Hispanic Journalists [NAHJ] in 1984; and, while a co-host of Democracy Now! show, he was also the National Association of Hispanic Journalists’ president between 2002 and 2004.  Coincidentally, between 2003 and 2011, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists group received grants of $240,000 from the “Challenge Fund for Journalism” program begun in 2003 by the Ford Foundation and the Knight Foundation-- which owned part of the institutionally racist Knight-Ridder newspaper that employed Gonzalez in the 1980s, but generally failed to hire many other Hispanic journalists from the Latino community or from Latino national ethnic backgrounds between 1979 and 2003. (end of part 6)

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