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Pacifica Radio's Gatekeepers Sponsored by the CIA's Ford Foundation

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By Bob Feldman
October 11, 2005

Pacifica Radio's Gatekeepers Sponsored by the CIA's Ford Foundation (Oct. 11, 2005)

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Alternative Media Censorship: Sponsored by CIA's Ford Foundation?

Part 1

The multi-billion dollar Ford Foundation's historic relationship to the Central Intelligence Agency is rarely mentioned on Pacifica's Democarcy Now! / Deep Dish TV show, on FAIR's Counterspin show, on the Working Assets Radio show, on The Nation Institute's Radio Nation show, on David Barsamian's Alternative Radio show or in the pages of Progressive, Mother Jones, and Z magazine. One reason may be because the Ford Foundation and other Establishment foundations subsidize the Establishment Left's alternative media gatekeepers / censors.

Pacifica / Demoncracy Now! / Deep Dish TV

Take Pacifica / DEMOCRACY NOW, an alternative radio network with annual revenues of $10 million in 2000, whose National Program Director was paid $63,000 in that year. In the early 1950s--when the CIA was using the Ford Foundation to help fund a non-communist "parallel left" as a liberal Establishment alternative to an independent, anti-Establishment revolutionary left--the Pacifica Foundation was given a $150,000 grant in 1951 by the Ford Foundation's Fund for Education. According to James Ledbetter's book Made Possible By..., "the Fund's first chief was Alexander Fraser, the president of the Shell Oil Company."

Besides subsidizing the Pacifica Foundation in the early 1950s, the Ford Foundation also spent a lot of money subsidizing many other noncommercial radio or television stations in the United States. According to Ledbetter's Made Possible By..., between 1951 and 1976, the Ford Foundation "spent nearly $300 million on noncommercial radio and television."

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Pacifica relied primarily on listener-sponsor contributions to fund the operations of its radio stations. And in the early 1970s, Pacifica also began to accept funds from the U.S. Establishment's Corporation for Public Broadcasting [CPB], according to Rogue State author William Blum--who worked as a KPFA staffperson in the early 1970s.

But in the early 1990s, some Pacifica administrators decided to again seek grants from the Ford Foundation and other Establishment foundations. As former Pacifica Development Director Dick Bunce wrote in the appendix to the "A Strategy for National Programming" document which was prepared for the Pacifica National Board in September 1992, entitled "Appendix Foundation Grantseeking National Programming Assumptions for Foundation Fundraising":

The national foundation grantseeking arena has changed enough in recent years to make activity in this arena potentially worthwhile--for organizations prepared to be players and partners in the same field as National Public Radio, APR, maybe some others...The foundation funding of interest is in gifts of $100,000 or more a year, for several years...

Three of America's six largest foundations (Ford, MacArthur, Pew) have begun to fund public broadcasting, public radio in particular, and evidently intend to continue doing so.

Pacifica requested meetings with each of these foundations earlier this year and was treated seriously enough in subsequent meetings to give us some hope of securing funding possibly from all three. A `Report Sheet' on this work is included in Appendix 3.

Beyond these three foundations there are no others among the country's 100 largest which have made substantial grants to public broadcasting. So the second tier of foundation prospects look substantially different from the first tier requiring more work on our part to open doors, establish `standing' and find a workable `fit.'

There are nonetheless a number of interesting prospects--in some cases only because of particular people who are currently involved, or because of formal criteria which we could try to fit.

The second tier list includes several from the top 100--Rockefeller, Irvine, Surdna, George Gund--Nathan Cummings--and a number of smaller foundations, but still capable of 6 figure grants: Aaron Diamond, Revson, Rockefeller Family & Associates, New World, Winston Foundation for World Peace.

Once we drop to the $35,000 to $75,000 grant range, the list enlarges, but these take as long to cultivate as the bigger ones, so it makes sense to start from the top.

Foundation fundraising at this level has extraordinary payoffs--but it takes senior staff time, not `grantwriting' but in communicating. It is therefore expensive, and not successfully done as an afterthought to everything else in the day. It also requires `venture capital visits' to the foundations to open doors and conversations that lead to partnerships.

In initiating three top level contacts in April, May and June, and attempting to capitalize on the opportunities apparent to us, we have already been stretched beyond our capacity to really interface effectively with these funders--although admittedly much of the problem to date has been due to the fact that we don't yet have a clear business plan for national programming.

Foundation grantmaking will most likely proceed as short-term funding. Funders will want to `fund projects, not operations.' We should presume that we can succeed in raising serious money to launch or establish new programs, etc. but not to sustain them beyond start-up. The standard of self-sufficiency will be required for many proposals we submit, and our own planning will be most successful if we relate to this funding source accordingly.

Short-Run Strategies for Developing a Foundation Grantseeking Program

Seek Development Committee leadership in planning for Foundation grantseeking.

Pursue 3 `anchor' grants to acquire funding beginning in FY'93 from the Big 3 foundations we've already begun to work with.

Long-Range Strategies for Developing a Foundation Grantseeking Program

Initiate an informal `feasibility inquiry' of foundation support for Pacifica's objectives by requesting visits with the dozen top prospects to shape proposals and establish relationships...

Foundation Grants Summary: Late this spring we began our first efforts in national foundation grantseeking on behalf of national programming. We have a good chance of securing six figure grants in the coming fiscal year from any or all of the 3 foundations we're working with, but our approach is still dependent upon our own organizational progress toward a business plan that we are committed to following through on.

The second tier of foundation prospects is more challenging, and will require increased staff resources, a modest feasibility inquiry and active planning with the Board Development Committee.

By 1995, billionaire speculator George Soros' Open Society Institute had given the Pacifica Foundation a $40,000 grant. And in 1996, the Carnegie Corporation of New York gave Pacifica a $25,000 grant to launch its Democarcy Now! show.

In 1997 came a $13,000 grant from the J.M. Kaplan Fund to Pacifica to provide support for Democracy Now! And in 1998 came a $25,000 grant to Pacifica from the Public Welfare Foundation "to report on hate crimes and related issues as part of its `Democarcy Now!" public-affairs radio program and an additional $10,000 grant to support Democarcy Now! from the J.M. Kaplan Fund.

That same year the Ford Foundation gave a $75,000 grant to Pacifica "toward marketing consultancy, promotional campaign and program development activities for radio program, Democarcy Now! " In 1998 and 1999, two grants, totalling $22,500, were also given to Pacifica by the Boehm Foundation, to support its Democracy Now! show.

In early 2002, an additional Ford Foundation grant of $75,000 was given to Deep Dish TV "for the television news series, Democarcy Now!, to continue incorporating the aftermath of the September 11th attack into future broadcasts."

Besides being presently subsidized by the Ford Foundation to air Pacifica's Democarcy Now! show, Deep Dish TV, with an annual income of $158,000 in 2000, was also subsidized by the MacArthur Foundation in the 1990s. Between 1993 and 1998, $190,000 in grants were given to Deep Dish TV by the MacArthur Foundation. And one of the members of Deep Dish TV's board of directors in recent years has apparently been a WBAI staffperson named Mario Murillo.

Another Ford Foundation grant of $200,000 was given in April 2002 to the Astraea Foundation, whose former board finance committee chairperson, Leslie Cagan, is presently the chairperson of Pacifica's national board.

Three other grants have been given to the Astraea Foundation by the Ford Foundation since 2000: two grants, totalling $75,000, in 2000; and a $200,000 grant in 2001 "for general support and subgrants to community-based organizations addressing social, political and economic justice, especially those focused on lesbians and other sexual minorities."

The former finance committee chairperson of the Ford Foundation-sponsored Astraea Foundation recently signed a $2 million "golden handshake / sweetheart contract" with the Ford Foundation-sponsored, soon-to-be-privatized Democarcy Now! producer Amy Goodman (who has apparently been receiving a $90,000/year salary from Pacifica in recent years for her alternative journalism work).

Part 2

FAIR / Counterspin / Institute for Public Acccuracy

The FAIR/Counterspin/Institute for Public Accuracy alternative media gatekeepers/censors--which includes Counterspin co-hosts/producers Steve Rendall and Janine Jackson, Institute for Public Accuracy/Making Contact executive director Norman Solomon, MSNBC/Donahue Show Producer Jeff Cohen and Working Assets Radio show producer Laura Flanders--have also been subsidized by the Ford Foundation and other Establishment foundations in recent years.

At a June 1988 street fair in Manhattan's Union Square which marked the 35th anniversary of the Rosenbergs' execution, MSNBC Donahue Show producer Jeff Cohen sat behind a table selling copies of his recently-created Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting [FAIR] group's journal, EXTRA!. Within a few years, Cohen's FAIR alternative media group was airing a weekly media watch show called Counterspin on Pacifica's WBAI station in New York City. What listeners of Counterspin were not told in the 1990s, however, was that around 30 percent of FAIR's funding was coming from Foundation grants, including grants from Establishment foundations like the Rockefeller Family Fund, the MacArthur Foundation, Bill Moyers' Schumann Foundation and the Ford Foundation.

In 1991, FAIR was given a $20,000 grant from the Rockefeller Family fund "for general support." And then in 1992, annual grants to FAIR started to pour in from the MacArthur Foundation offices in Chicago. In an early 1997 interview, the program officer who was then responsible for the MacArthur Foundation's media program, Patricia Boero, told AQUARIAN/DOWNTOWN magazine: "MacArthur is funding Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting. And in '96, they received $75,000 towards the cost of operations.

We've been funding it since 1992, at approximately the same level. It was slightly higher a few years ago, when the media budget was a little bigger." Boero also told AQUARIAN/DOWNTOWN in 1997 that one reason the MacArthur Foundation began funding FAIR was that FAIR was already being funded by other foundations such as "the Rockefeller Family Fund."

Later in 1997, more MacArthur Foundation money was thrown in FAIR's direction by a MacArthur "genius grant" program--which was then headed by a member of both the Public Broadcasting Service [PBS] board and NATION magazine's Nation Institute Board, named Catharine Stimpson. A dancer who was the partner of one of the co-hosts/producers of FAIR's COUNTERSPIN radio show was given a $290,000 individual grant by the MacArthur Foundation program which Nation Institute and PBS board member Stimpson directed.

Since 1997, FAIR has continued to receive grants from the MacArthur Foundation. In 1998 it was given an additional grant of $150,000 by the MacArthur Foundation. And in 2000, another MacArthur Foundation of $125,000 was given to FAIR.

Another Establishment foundation, Public Affairs TV Inc. Executive Director Bill Moyers' Schumann Foundation also began subsidizing FAIR's alternative media work in the early 1990s. In 1995, for instance, Moyers' Schumann Foundation gave FAIR a $150,000 grant "to support promotion of book THE WAY THINGS AREN'T," which was co-authored by COUNTERSPIN co-host/producer Steve Rendall. And in 1996, an additional grant of $15,000 from the Schumann Foundation (whose president, Public Affairs TV Inc. Executive Director Bill Moyers, was President Lyndon Johnson's press secretary in the 1960s) was given to FAIR.

Since 1996, FAIR has continued to receive grants from Moyers' Schumann Foundation, including a post-2000 grant of between $50,000 and $100,000. In addition, one of the co-hosts/producers of FAIR's COUNTERSPIN show, Janine Jackson, sits on the board of a group, Citizens for Independent Broadcasting [CIPB]. In 2002, Moyers' Schumann Foundation gave the Center for Social Studies Education a $200,000 grant "for continued support for activities of Citizens for Independent Public Broadcasting [CIPB]."

The executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy [IPA]/MAKING CONTACT alternative media group, Norman Solomon, was listed on FAIR's 1997 form 990 as being the "president" of FAIR and has been a FAIR associate in recent years. Like FAIR, former FAIR President Solomon's Institute for Public Accuracy, with an annual income of $267,000, has been subsidized by Bill Moyers' Schumann Foundation. In 1997, Moyers' Schumann Foundation gave a $100,000 grant to Solomon's IPA/International Media project "for effort to hold think tanks to high standards of accuracy."

In addition to being subsdiized by the Rockefeller Family Fund, the MacArthur Foundation and the Schumann Foundation in the 1990s, FAIR also began receiving grants from the Ford Foundation in the mid-1990s.

As the Working Assets Radio web site noted in 2001:

"As the founder of the Women's Desk at the media watchdog FAIR [Working Assets Radio producer-host Laura] Flanders received a $200,000 grant from the Ford Foundation for a collaborative project to combat racism and sexism in the news.

The resulting book, Real Majority, Media Minority: The Cost of Sidelining Women in Reporting, was published to rave reviews by Common Courage Press in 1997."

Besides the Ford Foundation's $200,000 grant to FAIR in 1996 or 1997 to help subsidize the alternative media work of its Women's Desk, an additional grant of $150,000 from the Ford Foundation was given to FAIR in 1997 or 1998. And in 2001, yet another $150,000 grant was given to FAIR by the Ford Foundation for "general support to monitor and analyze the performance of the news media in the United States."

In recent months, the Ford Foundation and Schumann Foundation-subsidized "media watchdogs" from FAIR and the Institute for Public Accuracy--Norman Solomon and Steve Rendall--have seemed more interested in preventing 9/11 conspiracy researchers and journalists from receiving any airtime on Pacifica's radio stations than in revealing the historical links of their funders to the CIA or the Johnson White House to their alternative media listeners and readers.

And Working Assets Radio--which is aired on San Francisco's KALW and produced by a former co-host/producer of FAIR's COUNTERSPIN and a forme Pacifica Network News staffperson--has apparently not been eager to welcome 9/11 conspiracy researchers and journalists onto the show.

Working Assets Radio

Working Assets Radio is a promotional/marketing tool of the $140 million/year, for-profit Working Assets, Inc. telecommunications company. And besides funding its own alternative Working Assets Radio show that is aired on KALW in the Bay Area and over the Internet, Working Assets Inc. also helps fund other alternative media groups such as FAIR/COUNTERSPIN and Norman Solomon's Institute for Public Accuracy (IPA).

In 1996, for instance FAIR/COUNTERSPIN was given a $59,723 grant by Working Assets Inc. Among the alternative media groups funded by Working Assets Inc. in 2000, besides FAIR/COUNTERSPIN and Norman Solomon's IPA were Free Speech TV and the Independent Press Association. That same year, Working Assets Inc. also helped fund a group with which DEMOCRACY NOW producer/host Amy Goodman has worked closely, the East Timor Action Network, as well as the National Public Radio News and Information Fund, the Astraea Foundation, People for the American Way Foundation, the Center for Campus Organizing, United for a Fair Economy, Children's Defense Fund, the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL), MADRE, and the American Friends Service Committee.

Based in San Francisco, Working Assets Inc. is a privately-held, secretive telecommunications company that discloses very little financial information about its for-profit business to either its 400,000 customers or to U.S. consumers in general.

One of its founders was Tides Foundation President Drummond Pike. A trustee of Mills College in recent years, Laura Scher, is a top executive at Working Assets Inc. Another top Working Assets Inc. executive, Michael Kieschnick, has also been involved until recently with the board of the National Network of Grantmakers, which also includes representatives of the Funding Exchange and the board of Mother Jones magazine/Foundation for National Progress.

Kieschnick still sits on the White House Project Advisory Board between folks like PBS CEO Pat Michell and former U.S. Vice President Walter Mondale. The White House Project Advisory Board was set-up to promote the presidential candidacies of mainstream women politicians such as U.S. Senator Hillary Rodham-Clinton. Another Working Assets Inc. official in recent years, Lawrence Livak, has also been the Tides Foundation Treasurer in recent years.

Because Working Assets Inc.'s stock is not sold on the stock market, it is not legally obligated to post much financial information about its business operations onto the Internet. In addition, executives at Working Assets Inc. have been reluctant to reveal to Movement writer-activists what kind of salaries it is presently paying its top executives. Working Assets Inc. has also collaborated with J.C. Penney in recent years on a "Shop for Social Change" business project.

Besides having the book she wrote in the 1990s subsidized by the Ford Foundation, the Working Assets Radio host/producer, Laura Flanders, also had her journalism work subsidized for awhile in 1998 by another foundation. After the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation gave a $50,000 grant to the Center for Democracy Studies of The Nation Institute, "to monitor anti-abortion activities of several right-wing groups," Flanders was employed briefly by that Nation magazine think-tank to write an article on the subject, which subsequently appeared in The Nation magazine.

In 2000, the Rockefeller Foundation also gave the Working Assets Radio producer/host and two colleagues a $20,000 grant "to support the creation and production of `Action Heroes,' a multidisciplinary work."

Members of the Rockefeller Foundation have included World Bank manager, a Ford Motor Company director, a MacArthur Foundation director, and an ITT Sheraton Corp. vice-president in recent years.

Besides being the niece of COUNTERPUNCH editor Alexander Cockburn, Working Assets Radio producer/host Flanders is also the older sister of Stephanie Flanders, who worked in the Clinton Administration as a speechwriter/special assistant to Treasury Secretary Larry Summers.

The Young Chiefs

Around the same time that former U.S. Treasury Secretary Summers was named the new president of Harvard University, Stephanie Flanders began working as a New York Times reporter. An October 1999 Observer article by Simon Kuper, entitled "The New Elite Who Run Our Equal Society" indicated that the Working Assets Radio host's younger sister is part of a British elite group nicknamed "The Young Chiefs."

According to Kuper: "Members of this new elite were presented with thrilling opportunities early in life... Another characteristic of the new elite is networks. The Young Chiefs, who tend to live near each other in the centre of London, got the big breaks from old friends or people they meet at their friends' brunches or leaving parties.

On the political side, the Young Chiefs are so close that many of them are related. Ed Balls (Oxford, Harvard and the Financial Times, economic adviser to Gordon Brown)...studied in Boston...Ball's wife, Yvette Cooper (Oxford and Harvard, now a Labour MP), is a Young Chief too, as is her sometime tutorial partner at Oxford, Stephanie Flanders (Oxford, Harvard and the Financial Times, senior adviser to the U.S. Treasury Secretary Larry Summers)...Nick Denton (Oxford and the Financial Times, founder of was a friend of Flanders at the Financial Times and through her met the elder Balls"


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