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How The Park Foundation Underwrites Democracy Now & Other Left Media Gatekeepers with Hefty ' Charitable' Donations, Part 1

By Bob Feldman
July 13, 2012

How The Park Foundation Underwrites Democracy Now & Other Left Media Gatekeepers with Hefty 'Charitable' Donations, Part 1 by Bob Feldman (July 29, 2012)

The Best Leftist Gatekeepers that Charity Can Buy

Democracy Now!' and FAIR/`CounterSpin's Park Foundation Connection--Part 1


“…Roy H. Park accomplished something that broadcasting giants like CBS, NBC, and ABC have not been able to do yet: put together the biggest collection of broadcasting properties allowed under the regulations of the Federal Communications Commission.”

-- from the 1980 edition of Everybody’s Business: An Almanac

“This is an appeal from orders of the Federal Communications Commission renewing without hearing licenses to operate Stations WTVR-AM-FM-TV over the opposition of appellant Black Broadcasting Coalition of Richmond (BBC). The appeal brings into issue the stations' alleged racial discrimination in employment during the 1969-1972 license period…The WTVR stations involved…include several…facilities which due to their size and influence are a major factor in the Richmond, Virginia broadcasting market. The BBC's opposition to renewal…alleged that during the three-year license term: (1) WTVR employed only one part-time black employee out of 62 full-time and six part-time employees at its television station, and no blacks out of 26 employees at its radio stations. (2) Qualified blacks had been available for employment but were rejected. (3) WTVR had been involved in two instances of discrimination against blacks (each instance being supported by affidavit): one involving a refusal to hire and the other a firing.”

-- from the U.S. Court of Appeals D.C. Circuit 1977 decision in the Black Broadcasting Coalition of Richmond v. FCC and Roy H. Park Broadcasting of Virginia, Inc. case.

“The Park Foundation was formed in 1966. Its…focus was on…grant making in communities where Park Communications had interests. When he died in 1993, Mr. Park bequeathed more than 70 percent of his holdings to the Foundation…The Foundation is dedicated to the…support of…selected areas of interest to the Park family…Broadcasting is a particularly meaningful recipient of funding…Mr. Park’s family continues an active involvement in the Foundation, with his daughter, and granddaughter serving as trustees, and his wife serving as President Emeritus.”

-- from the Park Foundation website

Democracy Now! and FAIR/CounterSpin’s Park Foundation Connection

Between 1990 and 2012, the daughter of the now-deceased super-rich Park Communications media mogul Roy H. Park—Park Foundation board of trustees president Adelaide Gomer—contributed over $400,000 to help fund the politically partisan campaigns of mainly Democratic Party politicians, according to the Center for Responsive Politics’ Open Secrets website. (On September 21, 2006, for example, she gave a $10,000 campaign contribution to the DNC Services Corporation; and on February 20, 2012 she also gave a $5,000 campaign contribution to the Moveon.org. politically partisan group). In addition, between 2009 and June 30, 2012, the tax-exempt Park Foundation—on whose board of trustees Roy H. Park’s granddaughter Alicia Wittink also sits—provided over $12.7 million in “charitable” grants to various U.S. alternative and mainstream media groups and media organizations, according to the Park Foundation’s website.

And, coincidentally, between 2009 and Jil moyers journal, left propaganda,, une 30, 2012 the Park Foundation provided four “charitable” grants, totaling $100,000, “for general operating support” to Democracy Now! Productions; and three grants, totaling $105,000, to the Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting [F.A.I.R.]/CounterSpin alternative media/left gatekeeper group.

Of the $105,000 given by the Park Foundation to F.A.I.R./CounterSpin between 2009 and June 30, 2012, $30,000 was given to help subsidize the “production and distribution” of F.A.I.R.’s weekly CounterSpin radio show; while $75,000 was given by the Park Foundation to F.A.I.R. “for F.A.I.R.’s `PBS and Public Interest’ research project.” And, coincidentally, the same Park Foundation which funded this alternative media group’s research project on PBS between 2009 and 2012 also helped fund some of the programming produced by and for the various mainstream media Public Broadcasting Service [PBS]-affiliated television stations. Between 2009 and June 30, 2012, for example, the Park Foundation that funds both Democracy Now! Productions and F.A.I.R./CounterSpin also gave “charitable” grants to the following PBS-linked mainstream media organizations:

1. Two “charitable” grants, totaling over $1.2 million, to the PBS-affiliated Educational Broadcasting Corporatio/WNET-Channel 13 mainstream media organization for “series support for NOW on PBS” and for “series support for `Bill Moyers Journal’”;

2. Six “charitable” grants, totaling over $2 million, to the PBS-affiliated Greater Washington Educational Telecommunications Associates/WETA-TV mainstream media organization for “coverage of environmental, media, political and social issues on `NewsHour with Jim Leher’” show, for a “Bizkids” show “aimed at teaching youth about money and business,” for the “PBS NewsHour,” show and for “Ken Burns’ PBS film series on Vietnam War”; and

3. Five “charitable” grants, totaling over $1.9 million, to the PBS-affiliated WGBH Foundation for “series support for FRONTLINE” and for production of a documentary.

Besides funding both F.A.I.R.’s “PBS and Public Interest Research project” and some of the PBS programming and PBS-affiliated mainstream media stations that F.A.I.R. claims to be “independently” monitoring for accuracy and for conflict-of-interest and abuse of mass media power issues, the Park Foundation also funds Ithaca College’s “Park Center for Independent Media”—which, for example, was given a $25,000 “charitable” grant by the Park Foundation on June 30, 2010 for the “hiring of an associate director” at an annual salary of $75,000. And, coincidentally, the director of the Park Foundation-fundedPark Center for Independent Media,” in recent years has been none other than the founder of the F.A.I.R./CounterSpin alternative media group: Jeff Cohen.

In addition to funding the PBS NewsHour mainstream media television show, the foundation of Roy Parks’ family also has been dishing out large sums of “charitable” grant money to other alternative media/left gatekeeper groups besides Democracy Now! Productions and F.A.I.R./CounterSpin during the post-2008 endless U.S. economic recession. Between 2009 and June 30, 2012, for example, the Park Foundation gave tax-exempt “charitable” grants to the following alternative media/left gatekeeper groups:

1. Three “charitable” grants, totaling over $ 1 million, to the Free Press alternative media group for “general operating support”;

2. Six “charitable” grants, totaling $425,000, to Foundation for National Progress/Mother Jones magazine for “general operating expenses” and a “collaborative journalism initiative on climate change issues”;

3. Three “charitable” grants, totaling $70,000, to the Independent Media Institute/AlterNet “for AlterNet” and for the “expansion of AlterNet’s coverage of freshwater issues”;

4. Two “charitable” grants, totaling $30,000, to The Nation magazine/Nation Institute;

5. Four “charitable” grants, totaling $60,000, to the Institute for Public Accuracy [IPA] for “general operating support”;

6. Three “charitable” grants, totaling $64,000, to the “Institute for Media Analysis/GRITtv for “general operating support for and syndication of GRITtv,” “to help launch…a major promotion and distribution drive,” and for “the launch of `The Laura Flanders Show’ on public television”;

7. Two “charitable” grants, totaling $20,000, to Public Communications Inc./Free Speech TV for “network expansion of Free Speech TV”;

8. Five “charitable” grants, totaling $48,000, to the Pacifica Foundation/Pacifica Radio “for WBAI Community News Stringer Project”;

9. Two “charitable” grants, totaling $25,000 to Common Dreams Inc./Common Dreams for “general operating support”;

10. Two “charitable” grants, totaling $30,000, to Truthout for “general operating support”;

11. Three “charitable” grants, totaling $225,000, to Proteus Fund, Inc. for “general operating support for the Media Democracy Fund, a collaborative grantmaking initiative to provide grants”;

12. Three “charitable” grants, totaling $40,000, to the Institute for Policy Studies [IPS] “to…provide support for OtherWords, an opinion syndicate”;

13. A $20,000 “charitable” grant to the Consortium for Independent Journalism;

14. Two “charitable” grants, totaling $30,000, to the Positive Future Network/Yes! Magazine “for Yes! Magazine”; and

15. Two “charitable” grants, totaling $20,000, to the Earth Island Institute/Earth Island Journal.

In addition, besides subsidizing the producers of so many PBS mainstream media programs and so many U.S. alternative media/left gatekeeper groups with its tax-exempt “charitable” grants between 2009 and June 30, 2012, the Park Foundation also gave a “charitable” grant of $1 million to the Independent Production Fund for a “Moyers & Company multimedia project” and three “charitable” grants, totaling $300,00, to help fund the National Public Radio [NPR] mainstream media organization during this same period.

Between 2009 and June 30, 2012 the Park Foundation also distributed tax-exempt “charitable” grants to the following other organizations:

1. Three “charitable” grants, totaling $45,000, to the Media Access Project for “general operating support”;

2. Three “charitable” grants, totaling $30,000 to Media Matters for America;

3. A $10,000 “charitable” grant to Green America/Minuteman Media for “Minuteman Media and its…national distribution of…commentary to small circulation papers”;

4. A $20,000 “charitable” grant to Public Education Center Inc. for “reporting of National Security News Service”;

5. Two “charitable” grants, totaling $49,000, to the Trustees of Columbia University for “Columbia Journalism Review’s News Innovation about the challenges and opportunities facing journalism” and for Columbia Journalism Review’s “future of news initiative”;

6.Four “charitable” grants, totaling $100,000, to the Brave New Foundation/Dreamcatchers media organization; and

7. Three “charitable” grants, totaling $75,000, to the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors organization.

Tax-exempt philanthropic foundation money grants are supposed to be given to "tax-deductible charity organizations" (to quote a Bob Dylan folk rock song from the Sixties) that actually help provide (in a politically non-partisan way) for the economic survival needs of the U.S. poor (especially during the endless U.S. economic recession);  and not be given to subsidize the politically partisan or self-promotional media work and bourgeois careerism of upper middle-class mainstream and alternative journalists. And when an inheritor of ultra-rich wealth gives a big money gift to a politically partisan journalist, one might think that some kind of gift tax on the donor would be required—even if the gift money to a politically partisan journalist is characterized as a “media grant” by the ultra-rich donor.

Yet groups like the Center for Public Integrity have apparently not been very interested in examining whether “charitable” philanthropic foundations like the Park Foundation should be allowed to use their tax-exempt grant money to create a 21st-century tax-exempt alternative/mainstream media empire network in the USA; in order to, perhaps, undemocratically push the Park Foundation’s particular politically partisan, Democratic Party-oriented agenda on the people of the United States. One reason might be because the Center for Public Integrity, itself, has been given large amounts of “charitable” grant money by the Park Foundation in recent years. Between 2009 and June 30, 2012, for example, the Park Foundation gave four grants, totaling $995,000, to the Center for Public Integrity for “general operating support.”

(end of part 1)

Bob Feldman

Always,...Follow the Money


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