As fact-checkers play an increasingly important role in journalism, it’s important to fact check who funds them.
One such journalistic operation -- the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) -- just received a massive financial boost from two liberal groups: George Soros’ Open Society Foundations (OSF) and The Omidyar Network.
Poynter announced on June 29 the IFCN will receive $1.3 million to support “fact-checking technology, impact tracking, and financial awards through innovation grants and crowdfunding matches.” Omidyar Network is giving $1 million and Open Society Foundation is giving and $300,000.
Soros’ support for fact-checkers is alarming because of his own far-left agenda: He has donated at least $12 billion in his life, much of it to liberal causes including activist, liberal journalism like the Center for Investigative Reporting, ProPublica and the American Prospect.
The Omidyar Network is likewise linked to liberal journalism. It was started by ebay founder Pierre Omidyar who also founded The Intercept, a left-wing site that launched ahead of schedule to publish NSA leaks from Edward Snowden in 2014.
The IFCN is a “forum of fact-checkers” run by the Poynter Institute. The IFCN works to coordinate fact-checking between groups and individuals around the world. The IFCN claims “we ensure that funders have no influence over the conclusions we reach in our reports,” most of the funding does come from known liberal sources.
Can Poynter be trusted to oversee an unbiased fact-checking network when its own leadership -- and IFCN’s funders -- lean left?
Poynter’s 15-member Advisory Board includes Vox co-founder Melissa Bell, The Washington Post digital managing editor Emilio Garcia-Ruiz, and reporters from ABC, CBS, CNN and The New York Times. Yet there are no conservative media outlets represented.
Similarly the Board of Trustees includes Senior Vice President of news at liberal ESPN Rob King, the former vice president for strategic initiatives at the liberal John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and individuals from The Post and The Times. But again, no conservative media are represented.
Soros’ and Omidyar’s agendas also raise questions about IFCN’s ability to remain objective.
Soros’ foundation employs more than 1,600 staff and has 47 offices in 42 countries. “Although we are not the largest international foundation in terms of budget, no other philanthropic organization employs so many people in so many places,” OSF’s 2017 budget overview bragged.
Through OSF, Soros has spent hundreds of millions of dollars pushing his left-wing agenda both in politics and journalism. He gave more than $550 million to liberal groups like Planned Parenthood, the Tides Foundation (which allows donors to anonymously funnel money to other liberal groups), and Human Rights Watch.
He donated $25.9 million almost exclusively to liberals in the 2016 election, including $10.5 million to presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s Priorities USA Action group.
But more alarming is Soros’ influence in the media. He gave more than $103 million to media organizations between 2002 and 2014. Of that, $61 million went to groups that promoted Clinton’s agenda during the 2016 election.
Soros is also deeply involved with the Columbia Journalism School, which has graduates working at The New York Times, the three broadcast networks, NPR and other top media outlets. Columbia University as a whole has received more than $11.2 million from Soros since 2003, The Journalism school has gotten at least $2.7 million of that total.
The Omidyar Network, run by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, has also funded a host of liberal causes. The Network has given more than $200 million to groups including Center for Public Integrity and Center for Responsive politics. It has also poured support into the Tides Foundation and Open Society Foundations.
Omidyar has further supported liberal journalism through The Intercept where liberal, anti-American Glenn Greenwald is a co-founding editor. Greenwald was one of the journalists to whom Snowden leaked NSA documents.
The Intercept’s short-term goal in 2014 was to “provide a platform and an editorial structure in which to aggressively report on the disclosures provided to us by our source, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.” The long-term goal is “to provide aggressive and independent adversarial journalism” on topics including “criminal and civil justice abuses,” “societal inequality” and “financial and political corruption.”