JERUSALEM – The Associated Press is delivering to its subscribing 1,500 American newspapers content, it has emerged, penned by groups with financing from philanthropist George Soros and another far-leftist billionaire who not only campaigned for President Obama but also topped donor lists to groups like ACORN and MoveOn.org.
The AP announced last month it will allow its subscribers to publish free of charge work by four nonprofit groups, the Center for Public Integrity, the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University, the Center for Investigative Reporting and ProPublica.
Controversial Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., a friend of President Obama who was embroiled in a recent national race scandal, sits on the board of ProPublica. The group defines itself as “an independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest.”
ProPublica was founded with a $10 million yearly grant from Herbert and Marion Sandler, the former chief executives of the Golden West Financial Corporation, which was one of the nation’s largest mortgage lenders and savings and loans. The Sandlers last year sold their business to the Wachovia Corporation for about $26 billion, a deal which valued their personal shares at about $2.4 billion.
The Sandlers are major donors to the Democratic Party and are top funders of ACORN, MoveOn.org, the American Civil Liberties Union and other far-leftist groups like Human Rights Watch.
In 2008, the Sandlers were behind two controversial California Political Action Committees, Vote Hope and PowerPac.org, which spent about $5 million in pro-Obama ads in that state. The two groups were run by the Sandler’s son-in-law, Steve Phillips, the former president of the San Francisco School Board.
The journalistic integrity of the Sandler-backed ProPublica, however, has been repeatedly called into question.
A report by the Capital Research Center concluded ProPublica “churns out little more than left-wing hit pieces about Sarah Palin and blames the U.S. government for giving out too little foreign aid.”
Slate reporter Jack Shafer raised questions about ProPublica’s ability to provide independent nonpartisan journalism in light of the nature of the Sandler’s political donations, which include “giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to Democratic Party campaigns.”
The watchdog website UndueInfluence.com slammed ProPublica’s claim of independence, stating the site is “as independent as a lapdog on a leash with allegiances sworn in advance to left-wing causes.”
Meanwhile, another of the nonprofits being distributed by the AP, the CPI, is funded by Soros’ Open Society Institute.
CPI churns out regular partisan pieces. One widely debunked CPI study from last year, covered extensively by the AP, claimed it found President Bush and top administration officials had issued hundreds of false statements about the national security threat from Iraq as “part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses.”
Writing on FrontPageMag, Richard Poe, a writer for the Center for the Study of Popular Culture, concluded CPI and other Soros-funded so-called watchdogs “have a long history of coordination with Soros and his Shadow Party. They are beholden to Soros personally for his financial support. His influence often shows in their choice of targets.”
The AP itself has called the arrangement to distribute pieces from the Soros and Sandler-funded nonprofits a six-month experiment that could later be broadened to include other investigative nonprofits and to serve its nonmember clients, which include broadcast and Internet outlets.
“It’s something we’ve talked about for a long time, since part of our mission is to enable our members to share material with each other,” said Sue Cross, a senior vice president at the AP.
She added the development in 2006 of an Internet-based system for members to receive AP material made it easier to do this kind of sharing and to offer new products like the investigative service.