Factoid: Foundation giving for “media reform” activities sounds nice from a distance, but when one looks at the financial dealings of major donors and the activities of the activists they fund, a less-altruistic, more self-interested picture emerges.
One example is the relationship between George Soros, who provides substantial funding to “media reform” actvitists, and LightSquared, a wireless company that Soros has backed through significant investments in one of the communications firm’s key financial underwriters. More specifically, from 1999-2009, George Soros’ organizations have given $11.5 million to media policy activist groups, including $2.7 million to Free Press, $1.9 million to the New America Foundation, $1.2 million to Consumers Union, $855,500 to Public Knowledge, $823,400 to the Consumer Federation of America, and $150,000 to the Media Access Project. These groups, in turn, have with increasing intensity lobbied the FCC for more regulations on large wireless carriers, and against mergers that would make those carriers more competitive.
Not surprisingly – though certainly under-reported by the mainstream media – some of the Soros grantees as recently as this August worked to promote LightSquared’s interests at the FCC, with New America Foundation, Public Knowledge, Media Access Project and Free Press urging the FCC to:
“…actively intervene to broker, or impose if necessary, a plan that…will permit LightSquared to deploy its promised wholesale-only mobile broadband network on at least part of its spectrum…” (Emphasis added)
Lesson here: If you want to get something out of public policy, dress it up in “public interest” clothing so that your “wolf” can mix with the flock.