Leonie Haimson writes here about Bill Gates and his successful efforts to buy positive media coverage for himself and the projects he funds.
She read the excellent investigative research on Gates’ strategic funding of influential media outlets by Tim Schwab.
Reporter Tim Schwab just had a must-read piece in the Columbia Journalism Review about how the Gates Foundation provides grants to news outlets such as NPR, BBC, NBC, Al Jazeera, ProPublica, National Journal, The Guardian, Univision, Medium, the Financial Times, The Atlantic, the Texas Tribune, Gannett, Washington Monthly, Le Monde, the Seattle Times, and many others. These outlets frequently provide favorable coverage of the Foundation and its grantees, and potential conflicts of interest are too rarely admitted by these outlets.
Haimson goes on to describe in detail her own efforts to persuade the New York Times to acknowledge that one of its regular columns, called “Fixes,” is written by two journalists who are funded by Gates. “Fixes” has repeatedly praised Gates’ programs without identifying their conflict of interest.
One of the media organizations Schwab discusses, Solutions Journalism, has received $7.6 million from the Gates Foundation since 2014 to write articles suggesting practical solutions to social problems and train other reporters to do so as well. Since then, as Schwab points out, SJ has repeatedly produced stories praising projects and companies that are Foundation grantees and/or have received personal investments from Bill Gates himself.
Solutions Journalism was founded by David Bornstein and Tina Rosenberg in 2013 and they continue to run the organization and receive six figure salaries as CEO and VP for Innovation respectively…
Bornstein and Rosenberg also have a regular column in the NY Times called “Fixes”, which according to Schwab has run at least 15 favorable stories promoting the work of the Gates Foundation by name, without any mention that the columnists are funded by the Foundation as well.
Haimson goes on to document the praise that these columnists have lavished in Gates-funded projects, and their failure to mention criticism. In effect, they operate as a PR team for Bill Gates and his pet projects.
She cites the ethical standards of the Times as well as the organization Solutions Journalism and points out that they don’t meet their own professed standards.
What are Bill Gates’ ethical standards?
Gates has no ethics. He steals and lies. I NEVER use Gates’ stuff and neither does my husband.
Use OPEN OFFICE not “Microsoft Word.” Any word processor can open “OPEN OFFICE” and it’s free.
I think that Microsoft and its products are tainted ant toxic, but although Bill Gates still owns some Microsoft stock, he is allegedly not involved in managing the company anymore, and the current CEO owns more stock than Gates does.
“Gates has sold almost 8 million shares of Microsoft (MSFT, Fortune 500), bringing down his total to roughly 330 million which puts him behind Microsoft’s former CEO Steve Ballmer who owns 333 million shares. … Ballmer, one of the first hires of Mr. Gates’ was Microsoft’s CEO until earlier this year.”
The last couple of paragraphs in this piece about GAte’s foundation are misleading crap.
From what I have learned, Bill Gates left Microsoft years ago and is now involved in making decisions for his foundation that is really a tax-sheltered way of doing business and making more money inside that foundation.
“…his foundation that is really a tax-sheltered way of doing business and making more money inside that foundation.” Something rings true about this even tho I know nothing about the mechanics of how foundations operate. And even tho we don’t necessarily suspect GF of peddling MS products, as G’s MS holdings only represent 7-8% of his fortune, & his personal wealth is managed by a different entity.
Influence-peddling is more likely what support of press outlets indicates. Whatever GF is trying to accomplish, feel-good public image gives them entrée. I think of GF more as Gates’ way of manipulating power– a continuation of his [or any industrialist’s foundation’s] MO. This is what they know and what they do. I wonder if Rockefeller, Carnegie et al foundations worked the press in the same way in early days? It wouldn’t surprise me. But “feel-good” is so much easier when you can point to solid, long-lasting cultural contributions like libraries, museums, universities.
Bill Gates has ethical standards? News to me! He has a lot of money that he likes to throw around to buy himself some power…..to then make more money. Greed is such a vicious cycle.
“If you squint as you read the story, you’ll notice that every quoted expert is connected to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which helps fund the project. And if you’re really paying attention, you’ll also see the editor’s note at the end of the story, which reveals that NPR itself receives funding from Gates.”
Good Lord. There’s a lot of these echo chambers out there.
All thru the pandemic the ed reform orgs have been promoting charters as superior to public schools in pandemic response. The research comes from one ed reform org, is then written up and re-packaged by others (all relying on the same original claims made by the first ed reform org) and then shipped out to the “news” outlets. In a matter of weeks it’s then cited as absolute truth by politicians pushing the ed reform agenda- you’ll hear it from Congress and DeVos and state leaders, repeated almost verbatim:
It just goes around and around, always remaining within the echo chamber.
And, of course, many of them are also funded by Gates, just to ensure it remains pure
I have also noticed that many of NPE’s publications are showing up further down on the search list than they once did. Sometimes publications that refute or criticize the NPE’s findings are higher on the list. This is the power of the wealthy echo chamber. They use their wealth to try to snowball an unsuspecting reader. It is all about the power of the purse. We live in the land of opportunity…for billionaires.
Chiara It seems to be an echo-chamber of his own deliberate making.
The oligarch’s attitude about public anything is a de facto embodied example of a democracy in failure mode.
The only difference between oligarchs in that regard is whether or not they are aware of the long-reach of their self-dealing on the very democratic ground . . . where, probably, their wealth and power were first encouraged and created. One is ignorance. In view of the U.S. Constitution, the other we could probably rightly name: treason.
I’m not talking anti-business, or even anti-capitalist. I’m talking anti-business/capitalist ONLY. CBK
CBK, “…the long-reach of their self-dealing on the very democratic ground . . . where, probably, their wealth and power were first encouraged and created.” It’s a real chicken-&-egg situation, isn’t it. The US economy, and now its govt: microcosms of the steady elimination of grass-roots creativity & innovation as one moves from healthy competition to domination by vertical monopolies.
The behemoths see it, and try to “disrupt markets” to expand economic opportunity for themselves. Weak imitations of the economic energy required, resulting in pale, tawdry efforts that line a few pockets & have a limited future. [Charter schools et al privatization of public goods]. They’ve already sucked all the oxygen [revenue] from the room, & have nowhere to feed but off the dwindling carcass.
bethree5 I read several business sections of papers and see many items like the one below, just as an example of the slithering around that Wall Street people do to one another:
“‘The Big Short 2.0’: How Hedge Funds Profited Off the Pain of Malls” (NYT) CBK
Perfect illustration of what we’re saying. McKee & Icahn in his boardroom “with a sweeping view of Manhattan’s Central Park,” discussing which bets against failing malls would yield highest profits. Circling vultures, choosing which rotation will give them first dibs on the animal when it succumbs.
the echo which never dies out
I especially appreciate the phony excuse given for not being critical of the Bridge International program in which Bill Gates is a private investor. The for-profit Bridge International Academies offers a complete scripted curriculum, most of it designed in the USA and primarily delivered with a mobile phone and tablets loaded with software sufficient for performance measures for students and teachers, full financial accountability, information needed to managing supply chains, and site selections for schools.
This for-profit operation is funded by a mix of public and private investors. Here is a link to the investors in this program as of 2018.
Click to access List-of-BIA-investors.pdf
Here is a link to the many criticisms of the program, including the excessive costs for parents and the whole concept of privatizing and profiting from education.
According to an article in The NY Times Magazine by Peg Tyre, the BIA scripted curricula is written by charter teachers.
Yes, I posted about the BIA curriculum some time ago here. Locals in Africa were employed to do some translations and to make some sense of unfamiliar concepts. Some locals could apply to become multisite managers. C-Span also did a program promoting BIA with much discussion about the costs and profits. That was sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute. One of the speakers was from a TFA background.
I’ll repeat what I’ve been saying since the early days of this blog: The huge problems in our society are a result of, or at least made worse, due to the extraordinary concentration of income and wealth in the U.S. Our government is bought and paid for by the super wealthy to protect and maintain their power and privilege.
It is so sad to see how the NYTimes, PBS/NPR, etc, have sacrificed their journalistic integrity.
Michael, I agree.
I recently saw a graph posted by the Evonomic Policy Institute shoeing that the average CEO received 20 times as much as the average worker in 1965. It’s now 360 times as much.
And did you also see that Jeff Bezos is worth more than anyone ever at $200 billion?
THIS is exactly the core of most problems in the USA, which explains our opposed crisis, our crime rate, our high infant mortality rate, our childhood poverty rate, our poor education system, our lower life expectancies, our stresses from over working . . . . The list is effing endless! Of course, better guard against waste and incompetence need to be addressed, but distribution for earth and power, fair taxation, and hoarding of riches is the demise of democracy. I have been saying this for 25 years, and it has accelerated in the last 15.
I say OUT with Social Security, the USPS, and Medicare. Then all those who have aways supported the GOP and who have been indifferent to improving the DNC will really find out what it’s like to live in China, Russia, and Mexico combined, all perfect oligarchies where the rich always win, and the middle class are but a sliver of the population. Have at it . . .
. . . opioid crisis . . . . distribution of wealth and power . . . better guards against waste . . .
On the nose, Michael Brougham. This is my mantra. I’ll spare you the rest of the rant since we’re on the same page. Save to say that IMHO ALL our social ills flows directly from this issue.
“What are Bill Gates’ ethical standards?”
I think we’re seeing them, alas.
The same as his wife’s-he said in interview that he participates in the church that his wife attends.
Ah, if they go to church, then it’s all good.
Reform is his religion
With Friedman as his God
And Billy Gates is Profit
To follow and to laud
The Charter is his chappel
Where people bow and prey
With hymnal pads from Apple
To rapture them away
The Fundamental tenet
The key to Heavenly Gates
Is righteousness of market
That’s sealing all our fates
Enjoyed your new poem.
Very grateful to see the Columbia Journalism Review publishing articles that go after the powerful. We need a lot more of these types of stories.
Taking Gates Foundation money in and of itself does not make an organization totally corrupt. I see ProPublica on this list and they publish some important stories with excellent journalism.
But what is vital is that there is clear transparency so that journalists are held to a standard that they must defend if their reporting veers off from real journalism into PR for whatever Bill Gates decides is important.
^^^For example, regarding ProPublica:
On June 18, 2019, ProPublica published this article:
“How Teach for America Evolved Into an Arm of the Charter School Movement”
“Documents obtained by ProPublica show that the Walton foundation, a staunch supporter of school choice and Teach for America’s largest private funder, was paying $4,000 for every teacher placed in a traditional public school — and $6,000 for every one placed in a charter school…..:
Although this article certainly does not talk about the Gates Foundation, it is still reporting that is very important to those of us who support public education.
Bill Gates is to ethical standards as Common Core is to _________ standards.
A) lousy education
B) crappy education
C) lack of education
D) college drop out
E) all of the above
Another SAT analogy (experimental question)
Bill Gates is to ethical standards as ________ is to software standards.
C) Ouija board
D) Mickey Mouse
E) All of the above
F) All of the above except E
Love this, but…
FYI, they got rid of SAT analogy questions some time ago, so today’s young people would have no idea what this reference is!
I get a feeling that Gates does not like Kamala Harris. Just a gut feeling. Still….if anyone knows…..
Gates’ wife likes her….I guess there are bigger things to worry about.
Gates will do whatever he wants. He will not change into a decent person because someone called him out on his lack of ethics. What this riveting piece by Leonie Haimson is about is not so much Gates as it’s about the New York Times and other news organizations that are not holding themselves to ethical standards. The New York Times needs to change its ways. The New York Times is misinforming the public. It is violating its own policy on responsible journalism. It is keeping the worldwide public in the dark. And what is it the Washington Post says, “Democracy Dies in Darkness.” Destructive. Shameful. The kind of greedy corruption on which civilizations fall.
News organizations like the NY Times and NPR pretend to hold themselves to high ethical standards but they are only kidding themselves.
Most people can see through the bull manure.
There is nothing worse than pretending to be something you are not.
“The kind of greedy corruption on which civilizations fall.”
I agree with you 100%, but it’s also the PEOPLE who have allowed this to happen. They vote against their interests and buy into the narratives and rhetoric. Dumb is as dumb does.
Microsoft and Walmart are bidding together to buy Tiki Tok. Gates. Waltons, and Charles Koch, rulers of the world, brothers born of different mothers.
I just saw two feature films about how our iconic people made their billions. The general pattern is that these people are good at one thing: how to screw other people.
Steve Jobs: he didn’t know how to code, but what he was good at was to create a cult around himself and to manipulate the real experts around him.
The Founder: this is the story of Kroc, how he stole the idea of the fast food restaurant from the decent McDonald brothers, and how he ultimately drove them out of business.
It’s still the wild west in America, and we still cultivate and celebrate outlaws. Financial success justifies everything.
Scruples are lacking
But screwples are ample
Good for attacking
The folks that they trample
Another similar article, this time in the NYTimes, about Microsoft and its long development of relationships with government officials:
SNIP: “The software giant was once a cautionary tale of an arrogant tech company caught off-guard by government scrutiny. But under the leadership of Mr. Nadella and Mr. Smith, it has built one of the most potent forces in the nation’s capital, one that could give it an advantage over the several potential bidders for TikTok if the company continues to pursue a deal.”
Is this a good time to mention that the anti-vaxxers hate Bill Gates too? I’m not an anti-vaxxer but I think when it comes to Gates, we can at least listen to their point of view.
Bill Gates spent $200,000 to defeat the reelection of Washington state judges who made decisions favorable to public education. After reading Slaying Goliath, you will understand no one should listen to Gates and his voice shouldn’t be heard. He is an oligarch ally of Charles Koch.
When Gates attacks common goods and dismisses democracy he becomes a danger to the U.S.