Like the protagonist in the classic Orson Welles movie Citizen Kane, Soros can never have enough power. But unlike Charles Foster Kane, the haughty, imperious fictional media mogul, Soros views himself as much more than a mere leader. With a straight face he told reporters, “It is a sort of disease when you consider yourself some kind of god, the creator of everything, but I feel comfortable about it now since I began to live it out.” (The Independent – UK, June 3, 1993)
Although markets have helped make him a billionaire several times over, Soros has declared war on capitalism. He blames markets and something he calls “market fundamentalism”— and not the suffocating regulations and high taxes his funding of left-wing groups promotes – for the current economic slowdown. “The entire edifice of global financial markets has been erected on the false premise that markets can be left to their own devices, we must find a new paradigm and rebuild from the ground up.”
“The system we have now has actually broken down, only we haven’t quite recognized it and so you need to create a new one and this is the time to do it,” Soros told the Financial Times in 2009. In an interview with Der Spiegel the previous year Soros said European-style socialism “is exactly what we need now. I am against market fundamentalism. I think this propaganda that government involvement is always bad has been very successful – but also very harmful to our society.”
Only in the twisted messianic fantasies of this octogenarian billionaire whose demeanor is that of a James Bond villain could such phantom armies of marauding free market fundamentalists wreak havoc on America. Perhaps these were the same laissez-faire legionnaires who brought us Sarbanes-Oxley, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, government bailouts of private industry, farm subsidies, ethanol mandates, smart growth, and the disastrous Community Reinvestment Act in recent decades.
One thing’s for certain: Soros’s answers to the nation’s problems almost invariably involve more regulation and more government intervention in the marketplace. If a policy increases the power of the state and diminishes the power of the individual, Soros is for it.
Because Soros is a lightning rod for criticism, recipients of his money often lie about taking it or perform an elaborate dance of legalistic hairsplitting to conceal the fact he is funding them. For example, Paul Steiger, editor-in-chief of the left-leaning investigative journalism website Pro Publica, denied his organization accepted funding from Soros.
In criticizing an Investor’s Business Daily editorial, Steiger wrote (Dec. 24, 2009):
An unmitigated canard quoted in the editorial – one that has a goofy way of creeping into discourse from a variety of people who dislike something we have written – is that George Soros, the global billionaire, is behind our coverage. Soros has never given us a penny, and even if he had, none of our funders know in advance what we are going to write about, nor do they have any role in deciding what stories we do or don’t do.In fact Pro Publica’s website contradicts Steiger, openly acknowledging Soros’s Open Society Foundations as a donor.
(Surprisingly, the liberal-dominated “No Labels” group founded last month to combat what it calls the “hyper-partisanship [that] is destroying our politics and paralyzing our ability to govern,” does not appear to be connected to Soros. The new 501c4 advocacy organization has a particularly vapid slogan: “Not Left. Not Right. Forward.”)
Glenn Beck, Threat to the Republic?
Not content to rest on his laurels, Soros has been buying up media properties for years in order to drive home his message to the American public that they are too materialistic, too wasteful, too selfish, and too stupid to decide for themselves how to run their own lives.
But controlling segments of the media is not enough for him. Now he’s openly funding the fake media watchdog, Media Matters for America, founded by the formerly conservative journalist David Brock. The writers at Brock’s well-funded slander shop assiduously monitor Rush Limbaugh’s broadcasts, seethe over Andrew Breitbart’s latest expose, turn purple over Bill O’Reilly’s latest on-air editorial, and analyze every last semi-colon in Charles Krauthammer’s latest column in search of that rarest of unicorns, the beast known as “conservative misinformation.”
Soros’s donation to Media Matters suggests that intimidating journalists who dare to question his vision is now a top priority for Soros. Come down on the wrong side of an issue and risk being labeled ignorant or evil by the smear website. Say that tax cuts lead to economic prosperity, and you’re attacked. Criticize illegal immigration, and you’re attacked. Say affirmative action is racist and discriminatory, and you’re attacked.
“They are vicious. They only understand one thing: attack, attack, attack,” said GOP pollster Frank Luntz. David Folkenflik, media reporter for liberal National Public Radio, was similarly unimpressed by Media Matters. “They’re looking at every dangling participle, every dependent clause, every semicolon, every quotation to see if there’s some way it unfairly frames a cause, a party, a candidate that they may have some feelings for.”
Media Matters relies heavily on personal attacks, rather than substantive or fact-based arguments. It settles scores. Large swaths of the site are dedicated to skewering specific media personalities such as Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, G. Gordon Liddy and Brock’s former friend Laura Ingraham. What results is not even-handed analysis of what they say or write, but personal scrutiny, including minute parsing and microscopic analysis of every comment and its presumed meaning.
Today, Media Matters is one of the loudest voices in the liberal media echo chamber as it feeds hard-line left-wing media critiques to liberal blogs, sympathetic and lazy reporters, and pundits in an attempt to silence non-compliant journalists and muscle right-leaning media figures out of the public debate entirely.
Even before the donation, Soros and Brock already worked closely together. Before the last presidential election they collaborated on a project called Progressive Media USA that vowed to spend $40 million trashing GOP presidential candidate John McCain. Media Matters exists to help protect Democrats and harm Republicans. Even the New York Times describes the organization as “highly partisan.”
As if on cue, Media Matters, and now Soros, believe Fox News is the greatest threat to the American republic. Both Soros and Brock had always denied that the billionaire funded Media Matters—and there was no definitive evidence of such a connection— but recently Soros proclaimed himself a new donor to the organization. Said Soros
Despite repeated assertions to the contrary by various Fox News commentators, I have not to date been a funder of Media Matters. However, in view of recent evidence suggesting that the incendiary rhetoric of Fox News hosts may incite violence, I have now decided to support the organization. Media Matters is one of the few groups that attempts to hold Fox News accountable for the false and misleading information they so often broadcast. I am supporting Media Matters in an effort to more widely publicize the challenge Fox News poses to civil and informed discourse in our democracy.In accepting a cool million from Soros, Brock promptly denounced Fox News host Glenn Beck as Public Enemy Number One.
From the moment in early 2009 that Roger Ailes enlisted Glenn Beck to the Fox News Channel’s new agenda – a battle to overturn the 2008 election results that Ailes likened to the “The Alamo” – Fox has transformed itself into a 24-7 GOP attack machine, dividing Americans through fear-mongering and falsehoods and undermining the legitimacy of our government for partisan political ends. Worse still, in recent months, Fox has allowed Glenn Beck’s show to become an out-of-control vehicle for the potential incitement of domestic terrorism. No American should be quiet about these developments – the degradation of our media and the reckless endangerment of innocent lives. George Soros, a philanthropist of the highest integrity, unfortunately knows first-hand what it’s like to be grotesquely caricatured and flatly lied about on Fox. Media Matters is grateful that he has decided to lend his voice and support our goal of greater journalistic accuracy and accountability. We are especially pleased that in this moment of hidden right-wing billionaire money corrupting our democracy, Mr. Soros, upon deciding to support our efforts, quickly and transparently has made that support public.Only in the topsy-turvy world that Brock and other leftists occupy could holding governments accountable be considered antisocial behavior. Whatever happened to the journalists’ mantra that it was their purpose to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable? What about speaking truth to power?
(This article is excerpted from the January 2011 issue of Organization Trends.)
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