George Soros

Media Matters for America, the liberal advocacy group funded by philanthropist George Soros, has stepped up its attacks on the Fox News Channel, launching a website directly targeting the cable network’s advertisers.

The campaign immediately followed a series of online reports by Fox News detailing Soros’ extensive funding of news media organizations.

“By sponsoring Fox News, advertisers are financially supporting a political operation that masquerades as a news network,” claims the new Media Matters website, launched last week, which calls itself DropFox.com.

“Advertisers are also associating their brands with Fox News’ reckless vitriol, race-baiting, anti-LGBT bigotry and deliberate spread of misinformation,” stated the website.

DropFox.com asks viewers to complain to major Fox News advertisers, including Orbitz, Best Western, Priceline, Delta Airlines, Ocean Spray, Netflix and Southwest Airlines.

Orbitz already responded to the crusade by slamming Media Matters as “a political organization that has been funded pretty extensively to go after one network.”

A statement released by the company this week affirmed it will not take the Media Matters bait.

“We aren’t going to engage in that fight,” read the Orbitz statement.

“We have a strict policy of tolerance and non-discrimination, and that means we don’t favor one political side over another.”

Foxnews.com two weeks ago released the first part of an investigative series detailing Soros’ funding to news media groups connected to major U.S. media outlets, including The New York Times, Washington Post, the Associated Press, NBC and ABC.

Last week, the second part of the series detailed Soros’ funding ties to the Columbia Journalism Review, which bills itself as “a watchdog and a friend of the press in all its forms.”

The information is part of an upcoming report by the Media Research Center’s Business & Media Institute, which has been focusing on Soros and his influence on the media.

AP to distribute Soros-funded journalism

The Fox News pieces focused in large part on a group called ProPublica, which first was exposed by WND in August 2009 for its connections to Soros.

One month earlier, the Associated Press announced it was allowing 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 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 Corp., which was one of the nation’s largest mortgage lenders and savings and loans. The Sandlers in 2008 sold their business to the Wachovia Corp. 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, repeatedly has been 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 whose material was being distributed by the AP, the CPI, is funded by Soros’ Open Society Institute, as WND reported.

CPI regularly churns out partisan pieces. One widely debunked Center for Public Integrity study from 2008, 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 AP vice president.

She added that 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.

With additional research by Brenda J. Elliott.

Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.