Seeding fake consensus using an echo chamber tactic
Summary: One by one the Gates Foundation buys a particular segment of media outlets from all across the world, ensuring that they mirror the stories told by Gates Foundation PR
INCREASINGLY we find more famous people who are disturbed by the hijack of the media by the Gates Foundation. It is not as benign as this media would have the average person believe and not every ‘business celebrity’ does this, either (Donald Trump arguably does the opposite).
This is our final part in a series which earlier this month included seven posts, namely:
- Education Scandal Leaves Melinda Gates Out of the Washington Post
- The New York Times Advertises the Gates Foundation
- Bill Gates Pays Millions to AllAfrica (“Largest Electronic Distributor of African News and Information Worldwide”) to Push His Agenda
- Gates Foundation Pays More Blogs Like GOOD, Blog4GlobalHealth, and Crosscut to Promote Its Agenda
- Gates Foundation Pays the Lancet Journal — Now Distorts Academic Literature Too
- Bill Gates Pays National Television (This Time PBS) for Self-Serving Propaganda
- Blue State Digital (Now Part of WPP) Hired to Advertise and Carry Water for the Gates Foundation
It is easy to see what is happening here. Even
philanthropy.com, which has spent a lot of its space/time glamourising Bill Gates (only to receive antagonism in the comments for one-sidedness), eventually published: “Why Is the Gates Foundation Giving So Much Money to Journalists?”
A $1.5-million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to ABC News has led some observers to wonder why the philanthropy is helping a for-profit news organization.
The grant is also raising further questions about the Seattle foundation’s growing involvement in journalism.
The financial commitment from Gates, announced last week, is helping ABC News conduct a yearlong report on global health, a primary focus of the foundation’s work. The news outlet is putting up $4.5-million.
But Marc Cooper, a journalist and faculty member at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism, says it’s “grotesque” that ABC News—which is owned by Disney and reportedly pays anchor Diane Sawyer a salary of at least $12-million—is taking money from Gates.
He also questions why the Gates foundation is giving that money to ABC News, rather than directly to the health projects that ABC will be discussing in its reporting.
As Mr. Cooper then notes, this criticism “doesn’t even address the possible issue of conflict of interest.” He asks: Will the ABC News coverage look into possible corruption or inefficiencies in Gates-backed projects?
Another mysteriously-named Web site,
nonprofitquarterly.org, posted “What Do Donors Want?”
“What do donors want?” seemed to be the question behind a series of grants that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation recently awarded to two private consulting firms to encourage more philanthropy, particularly among high-net-worth individuals.
It’s about the “pledge”, which is a gimmick that helps billionaires avoid tax and bad PR (amongst other benefits). We explained this earlier today, in relation to Buffett as well. Powerful men (usually men and their wives) increasing adopt the same strategy and those whom they fund to conduct research have implicit pressure on them to please the finding sources. It is a real problem in general, also when companies fund research associates and Ph.D. students.
The Columbia Journalism Review recently weighed in on the Gates Foundation and a critic explained how control of the press enables Gates to “toy with African farmers or Indian sex workers” (we covered this today in this and that post, respectively). The article was summarised in here:
It has been two weeks since the Columbia Journalism Review (their motto: Strong Press, Strong Democracy) published two articles on the Gates Foundation grants to mainstream mass media. Robert Fortner covers the issues very well. Some journalists come out looking more than a bit sleazy.
The Foundation is messing with the wrong people. You can toy with African farmers or Indian sex workers or even vaccine scientists who don’t have much of a voice. But some mass media people will raise their voices loud and clear.
The Columbia Journalism Review has complained that Gates is paying TV channels to serve his global agenda:
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on the author’s personal blog in July. With a few updates, we are running it as the first in a two part series exploring the implications of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s increasingly large and complex web of media partnerships. This part deals with a partnership between the PBS NewsHour and the Gates Foundation formed in 2008. Part two, running tomorrow, will examine a partnership with the Guardian, a British newspaper, announced in September, and one with ABC News announced on Wednesday.
How did PBS NewsHour correspondent Ray Suarez catch the global health bug? Simple, he said in a recent talk answering that exact question. Suarez explained: “The executive producer of the NewsHour, Linda Winslow, came into my office and asked me if I was interested in covering global health for the program and I said ‘yes.’ ”
But the actual reason is, following that conversation, Suarez wrote a proposal for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation resulting in $3.6 million of funding for NewsHour programming on global health. The Gates Foundation also sponsored the event at which Suarez was speaking. The moderator came from the foundation too, posing questions and selecting others from the audience, the funder interviewing a journalist whose global health education it had financed.
Suarez has heard gripes about Gates Foundation funding before. He defended the arrangement as giving an under-reported subject increased coverage while preserving “complete editorial independence.” Continued Suarez: “The foundation doesn’t hold the purse strings, encouraging some stories and discouraging others. And we don’t get approval before we embark on projects.”
In October 2008, the same time it awarded the NewsHour funding, the Gates Foundation granted the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) $2 million with a remit to “inform policy making and program development and implementation” for U.S. global health policy. The Kaiser Family Foundation doesn’t specify precisely how it uses these funds and publishes no annual reports on its website. Concerning its spending and governance, the KFF website only alludes to the possibility of such funding:
With an endowment of over half a billion dollars, Kaiser has an operating budget of over $40 million per year. The Foundation operates almost exclusively with its own resources, though we do occasionally receive funds from grant-making foundations, primarily to expand our global programs.
Around the same time, the same site (Columbia Journalism Review) explained why “Gates Foundation partnerships with the Guardian and ABC News further complicate global health coverage” (that’s the headline).
This is the second in a two-part series about the implications of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s increasingly large and complex web of media partnerships. The first part, published on the author’s personal blog in July and cross-posted with updates to CJR yesterday, described a two-year-old partnership with PBS NewsHour. This installment examines more recent agreements with the Guardian and ABC News.
The independence of the Guardian’s global health journalism has a new guarantor: the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Manchester, U.K.-based paper recently announced a global development section co-sponsored by the foundation. Such non-profit funding deals are not unusual in the media today and, like many others, the partnership agreement states that the Guardian has editorial independence.
The Gates Foundation is not just any foundation, however. It is the largest charitable foundation in the world, and its influence in the media is growing so vast there is reason to worry about the media’s ability to do its job. With Gates’s support, the Guardian aims “to hold governments, institutions and NGOs accountable for the implementation of the United Nations millennium development goals,” according to its press release. The site unveiling came in the run up to a September U.N. meeting to assess progress on the goals, which are supposed to be met by 2015.
Take the journal The Lancet, which, in May 2009, published an editorial, which asserted that “the Gates Foundation has received little external scrutiny.” The same issue featured two papers that found fault with various aspects of the foundation. The Lancet sought a reply from Gates Foundation but met only a stony silence: “The Lancet was sorry that the Foundation declined our invitation to respond,” concluded the editorial. “Now is an inflection point in the Foundation’s history, a moment when change is necessary.”
One year later, it is The Lancet which seems to have changed. In May, The Lancet assisted in installing the Gates-funded Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) as de facto arbiter of progress on the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), knocking UNICEF from its official perch.
The Lancet co-sponsored a symposium in May with IHME on maternal and child health at the Kaiser Family Foundation. The day before the event, The Lancet published an IHME study measuring progress on the child mortality MDG. The study quickly leapt to New York Times headlines. Last week, the UN groups published their figures immediately ahead of the MDG meeting. The New York Times turned a deaf ear. They’d heard it already. As the Guardian reported: “[T]he timing of this report is a no-brainer. But, interestingly, the numbers are not new. The Institute of Health Metrics in Seattle got there first.”
The IHME symposium also drew a lot of criticism, however, when it invited potential detractors to a discussion of child and maternal mortality and then sprung on them a new, extremely complicated paper (with a 219-page web appendix) and offered them a chance to comment the next day. According to symposium panelist Ed Bos of the World Bank:
The symposium and the Lancet article [on child mortality] by Rajaratnam were of course planned to happen around the same time, and while I knew that this was coming, the article was not shared, even when requested, until the evening before. Instead of the full article, I received a one-page summary of the findings, on which I based my comments.
Here is another last perspective which says that “The Gates Foundation people in charge of the conspiracy to take over the media deny that it is happening” (usually they just avoid the subject, so denials become unnecessary).
There is no conspiracy. Just poorly thought-out programming on the part of the Gates Foundation.
Here is a very illuminating interview of Gates media people by Tom Paulson, a Seattle mass media insider who is transparent and courageous. He asks the difficult questions, but the media people, predictably, duck most of them. Too bad. This would be a good chance for them to show that they have considered the difficult issues instead of only spinning them.
Interesting to see that Kate James thinks that British newspapers write about development because they have a colonial past. Why then did the Gates Foundation fund one of the UKs most important papers, the Guardian? Did the Guardian need money despite the British colonial past?
The Gates Foundation loves metrics. How do they measure editorial independence? Or do they just deny that it can be an issue?
Control of the press facilitates mind control. So again we feel compelled to share the video below. The Columbia Journalism Review‘s motto is: “Strong Press, Strong Democracy”. By “strong” they don’t mean bribed/commissioned; independence is required. █