Eye on "philanthropists"


Noting the fallout from Pewgate——increased attention in the blogosphere to the activities of philanthropic foundations——this author notes why we cannot count on the legacy media to do this.
Pewgate signaled a big change. It revealed a new and extensive conservative communications network outside of and harboring deep suspicions about the old, cozy fraternity of press and philanthropy. Conservatives have long regarded the mainstream news media as hopelessly skewed to the left. But their new network is now noticing much the same thing about mainstream foundations.

It seems that no matter what the issue —— the environment, health care, urban renewal, or electoral reform —— the philanthropic prescription is invariably to get the government to do more taxing and spending so it can pay for more trained experts who will assume responsibility for more of our affairs. Foundations may insist such recommendations spring from pure rationality and objectivity. But the new network has another name for them: liberalism.

If this seems harsh, conservative grant makers can only say, "Welcome to our world."

For mainstream journalism's uncritical acceptance of philanthropic research abruptly ceases whenever conservatives finance a study. Suddenly, reporters are acutely sensitive to and eager to unearth devious, sinister ideological agendas. To show how far this goes, a recent Washington Post article alertly included a list of a nonprofit group's conservative backers —— in the obituary for the group's director. That, of course, only reinforces the perception that the mainstream news media has a clear ideological agenda of its own. The new conservative network will simply help establish a more level playing field for journalistic treatment of foundations.

Clarice Feldman   5 09 05