“In the fall of 1982, Pam Edstrom [of Waggener Edstrom], a diminutive woman with piercing blue eyes, was recruited by Microsoft. [...] In modern-day business, flacks were responsible not only for avoiding bad press, but for spinning the good. [...] Hanson and Edstrom would spin a whole new image for Gates himself. They would tap the best and worst of Chairman Bill, changing his clothes, his voice, and his allegiances, driving him to become not just the boss, but, essentially, the company mascot—a sort of high-technology Colonel Sanders.” –Pam Edstrom’s daughter
Summary: A roundup of so-called ‘donations’ that Bill Gates made to news publications so that they put his work in a positive light and help his investments
Over the past year or so we have given countless examples where Gates literally buys coverage. He pays journalists to cover what he says they should cover and the way they should cover it (nobody reasonable would bite the hand that feeds without getting fired by the editor or without losing the income). James Love has written an excellent timeline which he sums up with the summary: “In 2009, the Gates Foundation spent $1 million per day on “Policy and Advocacy””
“In 2009, the Gates Foundation spent $1 million per day on “Policy and Advocacy””
–James LoveThat’s right. As we’ve said dozens of times alongside new examples, there is a great deal of advertising with a budget of over $300,000,000 per year. It’s just advertising the “Bill Gates” brand, Nathan Myhrvold’s patents, and some of the Gates Foundation’s tax-exempt investments that harm society. Apart from that, Gates makes many promises and pledges while actually increasing his wealth and giving relatively small sums of money (compared to promises he keeps re-announcing for publicity). The whole thing sometimes seems like PR operations that also help Microsoft. And yes, the press says the Gates Foundation helps Microsoft increase sales.
This charlatan Mr. Gates, who we no longer have the time to cover like we used to, shows quite clearly that money buys image. He can break as many laws as he wants, but as long as he is a celebrity who pays for the news, he just won’t be arrested. The man corrupts the media, especially in recent years. Turning the media into one’s ego-boosting machine is unacceptable and very dangerous (e.g. taking control of schools, derailing national migrations to Free software, and so on). Anyway, take a look at Love’s summary, which starts more gently:
This draft timeline, which is an incomplete work in progress, contains a number of selected data points concerning Microsoft and the Gates Foundation. Timelines are always somewhat arbitrary in terms of the selection of items, and this is the case here.
March 9, 1998. Ralph Nader and CPTech ask six PC makers (Dell, Gateway, Micron, Compaq, HP and Packard Bell-NEC) to offer consumers the opportunity to buy computers with non-Microsoft operating systems pre installed, including the free software operating system Linux.
February 2000. The Gates Foundation gives the first of several grants to National Public Radio, to cover global health issues.
October 2, 2000. Microsoft makes $135 million investment in Corel. Corel shuts down its Linux products.
March 24, 2004: The European Commission finds Microsoft guilty of violating EU competition laws and of abusing its market position and imposes a 497- million-Euro (USD 689 million) fine.
July 2004. The Gates Foundation announced a $150,000 grant to the National Press Foundation “to help create a cadre of skilled writers, editors and producers from nations heavily impacted by HIV/AIDS.”
August 2, 2004. The International Reporting Project (IRP) at The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) announced it received a $300,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to provide training and fellowships to U.S. journalists covering global health issues. The IRP would received several more.
September 10, 2004. Melinda Gates joins the board of directors of the Washington Post.
September 16, 2004. Public Radio International awarded a “major” grant by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. PRI also discloses frunding from Merck.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation provide a three-year grant to Harvard to create the Nieman Global Health Reporting Fellowship program.
October 2005. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation provides a $300,000 grant to the Internews Network “to increase frequency and improve the quality of health journalism in developing countries through the Health Journalism Project”
On June 25, 2006, Warren Buffett announced a pledge to give the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation 10 million Berkshire Hathaway shares.
July 12, 2006: The European Commission fines Microsoft 280.5 million Euros fine for failing to comply with a 2004 competition order.
Microsoft launches the Zune.
Now, watch what happened in more recent years (which is when we started to smell rogue activity and covered it more frequently):
During negotiations on the World Health Organization (WHO)’s Global Strategy and Plan of Action for Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property, the WHO Secretariat gives both the Gates Foundation and Microsoft Corporation permission to attend non-public drafting sessions.
October 2007. The International Center for Journalists receives a $3.7 million grant “to develop high-impact fellowships in Africa focusing on health issues”
October 10, 2007. The International Reporting Project (IRP) at The Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) announced a five-year, $1.6 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to provide fellowships to U.S. editors to improve the news media’s coverage of global health and development issues.
December 12, 2007. The Gates Foundation announces a three-year, $5 million grant to Public Radio International (PRI), to report on “global health and development content.”
October 21, 2008. Transparency International Awarded $6.9 Million Grant from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for its work “to promote government transparency and accountability in sub-Saharan Africa.”
October 2008. The Gates Foundation gives $3.6 million to the NewsHour program to cover global health issues. (Commentary here)
November 2008 The International Center for Journalists receives a $2 million grant “to improve media coverage of development issues in four African countries in order to foster decisions that benefit the poor with special focus on rural development issues, including both agriculture and financial services for the poor.”
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation report grants of $3.055 billion in 2009, plus expenditures on operating expenses of $409 million. The grants were broken down into $1.8 billion for global health, $677 million for global development, and $489 for the United States. Grants identified as “Policy and Advocacy” totalled $365 million for all areas, or $1 million per day.
February 25, 2009. President Obama announced the appointment of Gary Locke, the former Governor of the State of Washington, as the Secretary of Commerce. When appointed, Locke was partner at Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, and had been a consultant to Microsoft.
March 2009. The Gates Foundation announced a $767,800 grant to the Regents of the University of California at Berkeley “to foster in-depth and high quality media coverage of agricultural development issues in Africa through an intensive journalism training program”
March 4, 2009. Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), announced that Dr. Nils Daulaire, the former president and CEO of the Global Health Council (1998-2009), will join HHS as Director of the Office of Global Health Affairs on March 22. While at the Global Health Council, Nils had established the annual $1 million Gates Award for Global Health. Among the leading funders of the Global Health Council were the Gates Foundation and the Merck Foundation. Daulaire has been replaced at the Global Health Council by Jeffrey L. Sturchio, who earlier held several different positions at Merck dealing with public and external affairs.
November 2009. The Gates Foundation announces a $750,000 grant to National Public Radio “to support coverage of education issues on NPR programs, including the “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”
Through its seat of the UNITAID board of directors, the Gates Foundation nominated a Microsoft patent lawyer to the founding board of the UNITAID medicines patent pool. The UNITAID board deferred action on all nominations.
August 2010, Gates and Buffett announce “the giving pledge.”
September 14, 2010. The Guardian announced the launch of global development website with Gates Foundation funding.
September 2010. Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) receives $367,941 to “support a reporting fellowship to influential journalists in the U.S. media to cover global health stories in different countries around the world.”
October 6, 2010. ABC news announces the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will provide a $1.5 million grant to fund overseas travel and foreign production costs for its reporting on global health.
November 2010. Melinda Gates resigns from the board of directors of the Washington Post. Warren Buffett remains on the board of the Directors of the Washington Post, a position he has held since 1974.
A lot of the unethical activities (almost all of them) are ommitted from Love’s list, which seemingly concentrates on Gates’ influence on the media. There is a meme spreading around the Web which goes along the lines of quoting Gates as saying: “if I only had two cents left, I would spend one on advertising.” It’s not a real quote (some think that it is), but it generally shows Gates’ strategy and motto. In antitrust memos too we see Gates advocating “evangelization” rather than better products. Oh, and by the way, the quote below is real. █
“If you can’t make it good, at least make it look good.”
–Bill Gates, Microsoft