The Gates Foundation is Still Hijacking the Voice of the Poor and Effectively Runs Paid Advertisements Inside ‘News’
Normalising the absurd notion that the world’s richest are spokespeople for the world’s poorest
Summary: Money still the vehicle by which opinions get heard, so Bill Gates exploits this for fame, power, and profit
SEVERAL months ago we explained and showed how the Gates Foundation was hijacking the voice of the poor, rendering itself a voice of the very opposite of what it is. This is extremely dangerous for reasons we went through before and it makes up a powerful lobbying tactic which we alluded to earlier today. Over at the Indian press we see more of that same old PR which associates Gates with poor people:
A delegation of Bill Gates Foundation on Friday visited Dharavi here, among the biggest slums in Asia, to study the conditions there.
As we demonstrated in the past, Gates is artificially generating coverage to earn sympathy (he bribes publications for it), sometimes with press that is already funded by Gates for this type of agenda setting. In reality, as his wealth gains show, he does this to make himself richer and more powerful, pretending to lead the poor. Here is what one of them says:
“I am confident that we will continue to innovate on behalf of the poor,” says Bill Gates in his video on development innovation for Gates Notes. He is often criticized for his top-down approach to development and that statement does little to dissuade critics. Also note the parachuted safe landing in on the ground. All seems to indicate that innovation is coming from the outside.
Unfortunately, the video ends when it shows how innovations are being shared between countries like Japan and Brazil. The recipient, in the end, is an African country. It misses the final step that shows how future innovations will involve countries like Mozambique. The recipients will not be limited to the developing world. Accomplishing this, in part, will necessitate a re-configuration of the view that innovation goes in only one direction.
We continue to do a disservice to the poor if we insist on innovating on their behalf.
And the Bill Gates-fudned Guardian writes that owing/due to the likes of Monsanto in Africa, this is no justice:
It’s strange that at this week’s World Economic Forum the designated voice of the world’s poor has been Bill Gates, who has pledged £478m to the Global Fund to fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, telling Davos that the world economic crisis was no excuse for cutting aid.
The biotech agriculture that Lord Sainsbury was unable to push through democratically he can now implement unilaterally, through his Gatsby Foundation. We are told that Gatsby’s biotech project aims to provide food security for the global south. But if you listen to southern groups such as the Karnataka State Farmers of India, food security is precisely the reason they campaign against GM, because biotech crops are monocrops which are more vulnerable to disease and so need lashings of petrochemical pesticides, insecticides and fungicides – none of them cheap – and whose ruinous costs will rise with the price of oil, bankrupting small family farms first. Crop diseases mutate, meanwhile, and all the chemical inputs in the world can’t stop disease wiping out whole harvests of genetically engineered single strands.
Both the Gatsby and the Bill and Melinda Gates foundations are keen to get deeper into agriculture, especially in Africa. But top-down nostrums for the rural poor don’t end well. The list of autocratic hubris in pseudo-scientific farming is long and spectacularly calamitous. It runs from Tsar Alexander I’s model village colonies in 1820s Novgorod to 1920s Hollywood film producer Hickman Price, who, as Simon Schama brilliantly describes in The American Future, “bought 54 square miles of land to show the little people how it was really done, [and] used 25 combines all painted glittery silver”. His fleet of tractors were kept working day and night, and the upshot of such sod-busting was the great plains dustbowl. But there’s no stopping a plutocratic philanthropist in a hurry.
And then there is the vexed question of whether these billions are really the billionaires’ to give away in the first place. When Microsoft was on its board, the American Electronics Association, the AeA, challenged European Union proposals for a ban on toxic components and for the use of a minimum 5% recycled plastic in the manufacture of electronic goods.
Free marketeers will spring to the defence of billionaire philanthropists with a remark like: “Oh, so you’d rather they spent all their money selfishly on golf courses and mansions, would you?” To which I reply: “Oh, you mean that trickle-down doesn’t work, after all?” But the point is that the poor are not begging us for charity, they are demanding justice. And when, on the occasion of his birthday, a sultan or emperor reprieved one thousand prisoners sentenced to death, no one ever called those pardons justice. Nor is it justice when a plutocrat decides to reprieve untold thousands from malaria. Human beings should not have to depend upon a rich man’s whim for the right to life.
They are basically deciding for the poor that they should accept something harmful (but profitable to the rich). Needless to say, the astorturfers are storming such voices that oppose the profitable agenda. It is “interesting how polarised the comments are,” notes Glyn Moody. What he might not know is the extent to which PR agents are employed to spin the Gates articles (messengers tend to be bullied, ridiculed and discouraged too). These are agencies that we’ve shown to be engaging in dubious and possibly illegal tactics. The Gates Foundation hires agents that also work for Microsoft and we know that among their arsenal there are bribes for bloggers, semi-automated blog comment mechanisms, etc.
As for the article above, maybe Gates will bribe the Guardian some more to gag such critics through the publishers/editors. As we are reminded by Felix Salmon from Reuters, the Guardian already carries paid ads for Bill Gates, pretending to be “content”:
Now what happens if your aims are a not selling baby stuff, or fizzy drinks, or financial products? In fact, what happens if your aims aren’t selling anything at all?In that case, you might not mind if someone else were doing the publishing, just as you managed to achieve your goals at the same time. Which brings me to a very interesting $2.5 million grant from the Gates Foundation, which is sponsoring the Guardian’s global development microsite for three years.
The Gates Foundation actually launched the site in 2010, spending an undisclosed sum to do so; the new grant keeps the site going for another three years. As part of the deal, every page in the site — be it blog post or news story — gets prominently branded with the Gates Foundation logo, right at the top of the column where all the editorial content goes. (In fact, the logo is significantly larger than the Guardian’s own logo at the top of the page, although the site looks and feels like the rest of the Guardian site, and lives at guardian.co.uk.)
What the Guardian doesn’t say, here, is that $2.5 million is what’s technically known as a shit-ton of money. It’s vastly more than it could ever get from ad revenues on a niche site like this — even at a $20 CPM, you’d need to serve up 125 million pageviews over three years to get that much money. Global development issues have a substantial audience, but not that substantial.
More importantly, $2.5 million is significantly more than it costs the Guardian to put together a micro-site like this — this deal is profitable, for a media organization which, like most, is in desperate need of profits. In fact, it’s a twofer for the Guardian, which manages to improve its revenues and also beef up its editorial offerings in one go.
Looked at from the point of view of the Gates Foundation, there’s real value here. For one thing, all of the content automatically gets a lot more credibility than it would if it were published by the Gates Foundation directly, especially given the suspicion with which it’s already regarded. And frankly, publishing well-written, agenda-setting material for a mass audience is not one of the Gates Foundation’s core competencies: if they tried to do it, there’s a good chance they wouldn’t do it very well. (Non-profits in general seem constitutionally incapable of getting out of their wonky high-serious comfort zone.)
And the way these deals are structured, they do a pretty good job of minimizing the sulfurous smell of advertorials and “sponsored content” which has a habit of lingering in even the glossiest sponsor-driven site. Which isn’t to say that they’re not criticized. The Seattle Times did a 2000-word investigation into the Gates Foundation’s media sponsorships earlier this year, and found it quite easy to find critics…
Yes, the Gates Foundation has effectively been running paid ads (charity-washing) in a lot of publications. More journalists need to speak out against it. The BBC is another British press body that got bribed by Bill Gates at least twice last year (tens of millions of pounds). It helps deceive the public and marginalise voices of reason. █