Ethan A. Huff
Most major newspapers and media outlets in the world are owned by a handful of multinational corporate giants, who together control the content of what is distributed to the masses. But a recent report in The Seattle Times questions the influence the world's most powerful foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), has on the media as well. The foundation donates billions of dollars every year to fund "advocacy and policy" programs, and much of this money ends up being distributed as direct payments to media outlets who advocate for the foundation's interests.
While much of what the BMGF does and says is wrapped in philanthropic language and problem-solving rhetoric, many of its policies, including its support of mass vaccination and genetically-modified organisms (GMO), present a clear conflict of interest when the foundation's dollars get mixed up in what is ideally supposed to be unbiased journalism. And many are now questioning how severely these payoffs are influencing the media's handling of important and controversial issues.
According to the Seattle Times report, BMGF donates millions every year to media groups like ABC, The Guardian, The New York Times, PBS, and even The Seattle Times. BMGF also spends millions of dollars training journalists in how to properly advocate for foundation interests, and craft media messages in such a way as to further the foundation's agendas. So rather than presenting news, many BMGF-funded journalists now present carefully-crafted BMFG talking points to viewers and readers.
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UPDATED MARCH 8 2011