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New News Agency Funded By Left-wing Billionaires, Bias Question Ignored by MSM

October 25, 2007 | Filed Under 00Publius Contributor, Democrats/Leftists, Media Bias, News, Society/Culture, Uncategorized, Warner Todd Huston | 5 Comments

-By Warner Todd Huston

A new and supposedly nonpartisan news agency named ProPublica is about to start offering free of charge its “investigative journalism” created with “moral force” to newspapers and other news sources soon and so far the announcement has been met with favorable coverage by the MSM. But, ProPublica is being founded and funded by Herbert and Marion Sandler, a pair of left-wing billionaires responsible for funding such groups as the Center for American Progress and MoveOn.org and other far left Democrat backing organizations, yet the MSM seems unconcerned that highly partisan, left-wing backers are funding this effort. Somehow, the MSM can’t imagine that any leftist bias could possibly infect this new “news” agency.

Now, imagine how the MSM would be clicking tongues if a news agency were to be founded by a well-known conservative. Imagine how the MSM would be throwing around the word “bias” with abandon and how they would assume right off the bat that such a new news agency couldn’t possibly be a real news source because the founder of it was a conservative. Would the opposite situation elicit such clucking? Would the MSM scoff at the claim of non-partisan reporting if a left-wing activist started a news agency?

Well, we don’t have to ponder this as a hypothetical situation because both have come true with Fox News and ProPublica. How often do we see the MSM and other partisans attacking Fox News for being founded by Roger Ailes, a well-known conservative? Yet, the same is NOT the case for the founding of this new effort in “journalism.”

As ProPublica describes itself on its website:

ProPublica is an independent, non-profit newsroom that will produce investigative journalism in the public interest. Our work will focus exclusively on truly important stories, stories with “moral force.” We will do this by producing journalism that shines a light on exploitation of the weak by the strong and on the failures of those with power to vindicate the trust placed in them.

So far the MSM seems optimistic that ProPublica’s self-described “independence” is assured.

Of the news, PRWeek said:

A well-funded new nonprofit venture named ProPublica is out to revive the flagging practice of investigative journalism in American media.

The New York Times claims that ProPublica has “a lot going for it.”

The AP merely states that ProPublica is “A new venture backed by philanthropies,” without really alerting the public as to how biased these “philanthropies” really are.

Editor & Publisher reports the sunny claims of newly appointed chief Paul Steiger that everyone is eagerly awaiting ProPublica’s start up. “My sense is that people are very optimistic. Just in conversations with people, high and low in the halls, I get the notion that folks are optimistic,” he says.

And of course, the extreme, leftist propaganda group Media Matters tries their best to spin the fact that the financial backers of ProPublica, who are the deep pockets of many far left organizations, couldn’t possibly have an agenda to push because they are hiring former Wall Street Journal managing editor Paul Steiger to head the project — as if that will make any bias impossible.

But Investor’s Business Daily isn’t so sure everything is all coming up roses. Noting that two of ProPublica’s financial backers, Herbert and Marion Sandler, “fund both leftist causes and the Democratic Party,” IBD wonders why MSM outlets aren’t more skeptical about this new venture.

Now if this enterprise were called a “progressive” nonprofit, as other projects are, it wouldn’t be news. But given the chairmanship of Herbert Sandler, and Steiger’s claim that ProPublica will be run according to the “strictest standards of journalistic impartiality and fairness,” there’s reason to wonder if this isn’t a new bid to drive the political agenda leftward under media disguise.

After all, MoveOn.org is now discredited after it tried to smear Gen. David Petraeus in a Sept. 10 New York Times ad and is probably of limited use to power players now. Suddenly, ProPublica goes online at the beginning of a campaign cycle, and we’re supposed to believe its only aim is to save investigative reporting?

It just amazes that the MSM is so blind to its own bias. They attack Fox News constantly because Ailes is a conservative, yet the advent of this new news source bought and paid for by left-wing extremists is met with unquestioning applause. How is it that a conservative MUST interject his bias into his product, but it is automatically assumed that a pair of super rich, leftist activists will leave their bias completely out of their so-called news?

IBD asks some perfectly reasonable questions and has some valid warnings about this new news venture and its veracity.

With left-wing foundation cash yoked to investigative reporting, the potential for mischief in the coming election year should not be underestimated.

This project may be well-intended, but the sources of its funding and its premise about the state of the media raise questions.

But, the MSM doesn’t seem to share IBD concerns. They imagine that extreme, left-wing activists couldn’t possibly bring their own bias to the table to influence their “news” service, apparently.

Move along… nothing to see here.
____________
“The only end of writing is to enable the reader better to enjoy life, or better to endure it.”
–Samuel Johnson

Warner Todd Huston is a Chicago based freelance writer. He has been writing opinion editorials and social criticism since early 2001 and before that he wrote articles on U.S. history for several small American magazines. His political columns are featured on many websites such as Andrew Breitbart’s BigGovernment.com, BigHollywood.com, and BigJournalism.com, as well as RightWingNews.com, RightPundits.com, CanadaFreePress.com, StoptheACLU.com, AmericanDaily.com, among many, many others. Mr. Huston is also endlessly amused that one of his articles formed the basis of an article in Germany’s Der Spiegel Magazine in 2008.

For a full bio, please CLICK HERE.


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