Monday, February 12, 2018

In The Pay of Foundations: How U.S. power elite foundations fund a `parallel left' media network--Part 3

In The Pay of Foundations—Part 3

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

In its 1991 edition, Louis Rukeyser’s Business Almanac estimated that “the duPonts are the wealthiest and most powerful dynasty in the United States.” As Gerard Colby also observed in the 1984 edition of his DuPont Dynasty: Behind The Nylon Curtain book:

“No family in America has been richer longer than duPonts…The family has developed many ruses for avoiding any public control over its wealth. Besides their 11 personal trusts, the duPonts have established 37 tax-free foundations…Most of the duPonts, plus the first line of their in-laws and a few of the second line, make up the 250 `big’ duPonts…These are the duPonts who comprise the richest family in the world…These are the duPonts who own more estates, more thoroughbred horses, more yachts, more servants than the Queen of England and the royal family…It has been precisely by `hard bargaining,’ by exploitation of labor at home and abroad, by fat government contracts, that the duPonts amassed their $10 billion [equivalent to over $23.7 billion in 2018 dollars] fortune.”

Yet since 1996, Democracy Now! has not seemed eager to produce many radio or tv news show segments that critically examine how the super-rich duPont dynasty members specifically obtained their wealth, historically, and have, specifically, retained their individual wealth since 1996. One reason might be because a Columbia University School of Journalism-administered program funded by the Alfred I. duPont Awards Foundation gave the Pacifica Foundation’s WBAI station a “silver baton” Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award in Broadcast Journalism, for the MacArthur foundation grant-subsidized 1991 “radio documentary on East Timor” that Democracy Now! Productions president Goodman produced; which she personally accepted, at a Jan. 27, 1994 ceremony in Columbia’s Low Library, from corporate media journalist Mike Wallace of CBS News, who was the event’s MC.

DuPont Awards Foundation “silver baton” awards were also distributed to the news departments and professional journalists of mainstream corporate media organizations like ABC, NBC, CNN and PBS-affiliated television stations at this same ceremony, which was broadcast nationally by PBS-affiliated stations. According to the Jan. 28, 1994 issue of Columbia Daily Spectator , “hundreds of radio and television news professionals” from the U.S. mainstream corporate media world “gathered in the rotunda of Low Library” for this annual self-promotional event to celebrate the reporting of mainly Establishment media journalists. 

Created in the early 1940s by Jessie Ball duPont in memory of her deceased husband, Alfred I. DuPont, the Alfred I. duPont – Columbia University Awards in Broadcast Journalism, which Columbia University’s School of Journalism has administered since 1968, is funded by the Alfred I. DuPont Awards Foundation that, in turn, receives grants from the Jessie Ball duPont Fund. For example, between July 1, 2013 and June 30, 2016, the Alfred I. duPont Awards Foundation gave Columbia University’s School of Journalism 3 grants, totalling $1,220,000, to fund the duPont awards program; and the Jessie Ball duPont Fund, whose assets exceeded $291 million in 2013, in turn, gave 3 grants, totalling $807,000, to the Alfred I. duPont Awards Foundation. And one year before Goodman was presented with her “silver baton” duPont-Columbia award, Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism, itself, was directly given a $1.25 million gift in January 1993 by the Jessie Ball duPont Fund, to continue the Alfred I. duPont Columbia University Awards and other duPont awards program-related activities at Columbia.

As the Jessie Ball duPont Fund website notes, Jessie Ball duPont “re-established an earlier friendship with Alfred I. duPont, a member of one of America’s most distinguished families and a man of great wealth” in 1920; and “they were married in 1921 and by 1927 had built their estate, Epping Forest, in Jacksonville, Florida.” In her 2004 book Dream State, University of Alabama Professor of English Diane Roberts indicated why Alfred I. duPont apparently moved from Delaware, the state in which economic and political life has been dominated by duPont dynasty members for over a century, to Florida, after Florida amended its state constitution in 1924:

“…In 1924 the state amended its constitution to outlaw income tax. Even better, the constitution also prohibited inheritance taxes. If you had it, Florida would let you keep it. So Alfred du Pont, of the more money than Croesus duPonts, cast an eye on Florida and saw potential….Delaware was run by a cabal of his megabucks with whom Alfred did not get along…Alfred packed up his young wife Jessie Ball duPont, her business savvy little brother, Edward Ball and a few bank accounts, and moved south…”

In his 1989 book Some Kind Of Paradise: A Chronicle of Man and Land in Florida, Mark Derr described what happened after Alfred I. duPont--for whom the “silver baton” award that Democracy Now! producer Goodman accepted in Columbia University’s Low Library in 1994 is named—moved to Florida with his wife and brother-in-law Ed Ball, who later became one of the first trustees of the Jessie Ball duPont Fund that funds the Alfred I. duPont Awards Foundation:

“From the start of the Depression, Alfred I. duPont, traveling with his brother-in-law Ed Ball, bought played-out north Florida farmland, cut-over pine forests, and failing banks. He wanted to establish across the land-and water-rich, transportation-poor Panhandle and north peninsula, from Pensacola to Jacksonville, a quasi-feudal state…After duPont’s death…Ball became sole trustee of the duPont estate and the most powerful man in Florida, a racist, union-busting anti-communist vilified by his opponents, fawned over by the people he supported until his death…During his 30-year reign in the state, Ball became so powerful that it was, in the words of his biographer, `difficult to go 50 miles in any part of Florida without coming in contact with a portion of the empire [he] built.’

“DuPont started the St. Joe Paper Company in Port St. Joe, and his estate eventually came to own one million acres of pineland in the Florida Panhandle and south Georgia, along with 23 box plants in the United States and Europe, 31 banks in Florida, the Florida East Coast Railway, and its assorted properties. Ball bought the railroad’s bonds at 16 cents on the dollar when it was in receivership in the 1930s and gained control of it…Ball broke the railroad unions in Florida during the 1960s by provoking a strike noteworthy for its duration, violence, and lack of substantive negotiations.

“For three decades the duPont estate, as a `testamentary trust’ was exempt from provisions of the federal Bank Holding Act prohibiting banks from owning other major businesses, a bit of largesse that allowed Ball to purchase the railroad…’

According to Diane Roberts’ Dream State, former Jessie Ball duPont Fund trustee Ed Ball “admired J. Edgar Hoover and may have been an FBI informant;” and among the failed banks that Ball acquired for Alfred I. duPont in the late 1920s, were banks in Miami, St. Petersburg, Daytona and Orlando. The same book also noted that, as late as 2004, the 1 million acres of Florida Panhandle and south Georgie pineland, equal to the land area of Delaware, that Ball had purchased for duPont was still nearly all owned by a company controlled by the Alfred I. duPont estate; and “Ball and others of his ilk had terrorized the Florida legislature when, in 1935, lawmakers had flirted with repealing the state’s prohibition on an income tax.”

In 2013, the Jessie Ball duPont Fund was still earning over $3.8 million in dividends and interest from the over $101.5 million in corporate stock, over $56.1 million in corporate bonds and over $123.5 million in mutual funds shares that it owned, according to its Form 990 financial filing for 2013. The same 2013 financial filing indicated, for example, that it owned over $140,000 worth of Comcast stock, over $220,000 worth of Google stock, over $91,000 worth of Facebook stock, over $90,000 worth of Occidental Petroleum stock, over $134,000 worth of Halliburton stock, over $165,000 worth of Amazon stock, over $321,000 worth of Apple stock and over $180,000 worth of Starbuck’s stock in 2013. The Alfred I. duPont Awards Foundation, which also funded the duPont-Columbia awards program that gave its “silver baton” award to Goodman in 1994, still owned over $700,000 in corporate bonds and over $2.1 million in corporate stock in 2016, including over $5,000 worth of Chevron stock, over $5,000 worth of ExxonMobil stock, over $6,000 worth of Comcast stock, and over $6,000 worth of Northrop Grumman stock, according to its 2015 Form 990 financial filing for the period between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016.

And nine years after the CIA-backed 1965 military coup (that established a right-wing military dictatorship under Suharto and quickly led to the massacre of between 500,000 and 1 million Indonesian leftists by right-wing death squads) and one year before the Indonesian military invaded the former Portuguese colony of East Timor in 1975 (and then killed over 25 percent of East Timor’s inhabitants by the time Goodman accepted her 1994 duPont journalism award), the Delaware-based duPont dynasty’s E.I. DuPont company also established a subsidiary in Indonesia, PT.DuPont/PT DuPont Indonesia, which then invested more than $100 million in Indonesia during the next four decades. (end of part 3)

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