Since when it is controversial for a company to research a powerful billionaire calling for it to be regulated and who could potentially impact its stock price? Since now — if the company is Facebook and its opponent is liberal billionaire George Soros.
The New York Times has become Soros’ press office now that Facebook has acknowledged looking into where his money goes. The paper has done 18 stories, columns or editorials about Facebook that also mention Soros since Nov. 15.
That was the day slightly more than two weeks ago that it ran a front-page investigative piece critical of Facebook: “Delay, Deny and Deflect: How Facebook’s Leaders Fought Through Crisis.” That story first mentioned the firm’s hiring of a “Republican opposition-research firm” that looked for connections between anti-Facebook protesters and the liberal billionaire.
Between Nov. 15, and Dec. 3, the Times published 11 news reports and published 7 columns or editorials in the newspaper including the editorial “Facebook Cannot Be Trusted to Regulate Itself” and a column from Michelle Goldberg headlined, “Democrats Should Un-Friend Facebook.”
Buzzfeed threw cold water on the controversy on Dec. 1, when it published a three-page document of research on Soros that firm provided to Facebook and calling it “largely innocuous.”
Before that revelation, the Times had continued hyping the story. On Nov. 30, it wrote that “Sandberg Asked Staff to Research Soros Links” reporting that Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg asked staff to research Soros’ financial interests. Her request came after Soros called for “more stringent regulations” on Facebook and Google in a speech at the World Economic Forum in January 2018.
Unnamed sources told the Times Sandberg wanted to know why Soros was critical of the company and whether he might gain financially by attacking them.
Facebook released a statement defending the actions saying, “Mr. Soros is a prominent investor and we looked into his investments and trading activity related to Facebook ... That research was already underway when Sheryl sent an email asking if Mr. Soros had shorted Facebook’s stock.”
Not a crazy question, considering Soros once profited enormously when he “broke the Bank of England.”
But it’s doubtful that the Times would have portrayed such an act as controversial at all if the scrutiny wasn’t of a prominent funder of left-wing groups. Earlier Times’ reporting led Facebook to launch a “liberal apology tour” and fire Definers Public Affairs, a “Republican-linked firm,” that it had hired. The group spread “public information about Mr. Soros’s funding of American advocacy groups critical of Facebook.”
At least four of those groups in the Freedom from Facebook coalition have gotten donations from his Open Society Foundations at some point. The coalition also includes a union representing thousands of journalists. The coalition wants the Federal Trade Commission to break up Facebook and force it to spin off assets like Instagram and Messenger.
Soros is a famous currency trader and massive funder of left-wing and progressive causes worldwide. In January 2018, he blasted Facebook and Google as “IT monopolies,” calling them a “menace,” and claiming they are “public utilities” that should face “more stringent regulations.”
The Times minimized Soros’ potential threat to Facebook saying only that he attacked the companies as ‘a ‘menace’ to society and calling for the companies to be regulated.”
“Companies earn their profits by exploiting their environment ... social media companies exploit the social environment. This is particularly nefarious because social media companies influence how people think and behave without them even being aware of it,” Soros told the World Economic Forum.
The Nov. 30, story linking Sandberg to Soros research requests also understated Soros’ financial history and ability to move markets saying he was a “onetime currency trader who made a fortune in the 1990s betting against the British pound.”
That understated Black Wednesday and the way Soros “Broke the Bank of England” in 1992, when Britain's central bank could not withstand an attack from Soros and others betting against it in the currency markets. The Bank of England lost more than 3 billion British pound and it wasn’t long before the country went into a recession. Soros made an estimated $1 billion.
Tech Crunch added what is sure to be more fodder for liberal media attacks on Facebook on Nov. 30. It reported that Facebook also contracted with the “GOP-linked” strategy firm Targeted Victory for a Community Boost initiative attract small businesses to Facebook.