Summary: The world’s richest monopolist loves to pretend that he is a representative of the world’s poorest and he pays selected people to play along with this illusion
The Gates Foundation is not only a good lesson regarding the weakness of the corporate media but also the corruptibility of blogs because some of these too have been hijacked by Gates, who gave them money with strings attached. We covered some examples of that before. By seeding money the way he does (over a million dollars per day just for media), Gates is making the poor speak like (and for) the rich, pretending that bribing journalists and creating strings for them is actually helpful. Here is an insult to journalists, courtesy of the Gates Foundation:
Here is an interesting strategy or tactic on the part of the Gates Foundation. Instead of sending Bill and Melinda out to answer recent valid criticism of the Foundation, they send Jeff Raikes. Who would dream of arguing with Jeff? He always says that everything is all right.
In defending the Foundation’s millions of dollars given to the press, Mr Raikes appears to call journalists “poor”. “We feel a very strong responsibility to enable the voice of the poor,” he said.
But wait. They are funding rich journalists too, not just poor ones to whom they provide training and instructions.
As one blog put it in the headline, “Is Gates Foundation Unethical Or Just Leading-Edge? See this post’s core argument:
Case in point: The Gates Foundation. In October 2010, its partnership (funding) with ABC was celebrated as a way to bring information about third-world illness to the forefront of public discussion despite the fact that newspapers everywhere were cutting overseas coverage.
Now, The Seattle Times is questioning the ethics of the Gates Foundation and of the news agencies benefitting from its largesse because “To garner attention for the issues it cares about, the foundation has invested millions in training programs for journalists. It funds research on the most effective ways to craft media messages.”
That’s called marketing. Also, advocacy. Getting the word out about social problems is an important aspect of advocacy, even if it means training reporters to uncover the stories that need telling.
The Gates Foundation is ramping up advocacy by giving money to those – yes, for-profits – who can really get the word out. As long as they don’t dictate the contents of the coverage, how is this wrong? Does it differ from hiring a for-profit ad agency to put together an ad campaign? Or paying an event-planner to put on a gala? It’s about giving money to professionals in the hope of getting the job done right.
Is receiving money from a foundation going to affect the content of the news any more than the proceeds from a big advertiser do? Ah, now that is the ethical question and it is one the news media, not the foundation, must answer. The article should investigate whether both sides of the stories about health initiatives in Africa were examined.
Including whether the medical solutions supported by Gates are effective.
The article didn’t ask that question.
The tone of The Seattle Times article focused on criticizing the Gates Foundation for funding news reports, for partnering with a for-profit news organization, and for advocacy that is “ … essentially public relations: an attempt to influence decision-makers and sway public opinion. The ultimate goal is to boost funding and focus from governments … “
Remember that the Seattle Times too received money from Gates. This situation became so serious that even corporate press has begun giving it mainstream attention. FAIR complains too, and for those who do not know, FAIR is a highly regarded watchdog of journalism. To quote part of their assessment:
• Philanthropies have interests, too, that reporters are in the business of scrutinizing; but what if those deep pockets are bankrolling the show? The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation pushes projects from genetic engineering to charter schools, among other things, so when ABC News formed a “partnership” with the Gates Foundation, to “offset” costs of a series on “global health problems and their potential solutions” (NYTimes.com, 10/6/10), ABC News president David Westin felt obliged to note that the network would decide where to go and what to cover—right before saying that news execs met with a Gates official to “pick his brain” about…where to go and what to cover.
Shocking. Or not. This is how sad things are. █