portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article

ALTERNATIVE MEDIA CENSORSHIP: SPONSORED BY CIA's FORD FOUNDATION?

PACIFICA RADIO and other "alternative" media in the USA have carefully avoided talking about the relationship between the Ford Foundation and the CIA. Perhaps for the reason that the Ford Foundation (and the CIA) have been funding these very same alt. media organtizations
ALTERNATIVE MEDIA CENSORSHIP:
SPONSORED BY CIA's FORD FOUNDATION?

by bob feldman

The multi-billion dollar Ford Foundation's historic relationship to the Central Intelligence Agency [CIA] is rarely mentioned on Pacifica's DEMOCRACY NOW / Deep Dish TV show, on FAIR's COUNTERSPIN show, on the WORKING ASSETS RADIO show, on The Nation Institute's RADIO NATION show, on David Barsamian's ALTERNATIVE RADIO show or in the pages of PROGRESSIVE, MOTHER JONES and Z magazine. One reason may be because the Ford Foundation and other Establishment foundations subsidize the Establishment Left's alternative media gatekeepers / censors.

PACIFICA / DEMOCRACY NOW / DEEP DISH TV

Take Pacifica / DEMOCRACY NOW, an alternative radio network with annual revenues of $10 million in 2000, whose National Program Director was paid $63,000 in that year. In the early 1950s--when the CIA was using the Ford Foundation to help fund a non-communist "parallel left" as a liberal Establishment alternative to an independent, anti-Establishment revolutionary left--the Pacifica Foundation was given a $150,000 grant in 1951 by the Ford Foundation's Fund for Education. According to James Ledbetter's book Made Possible By..., "the Fund's first chief was Alexander Fraser, the president of the Shell Oil Company."

Besides subsidizing the Pacifica Foundation in the early 1950s, the Ford Foundation also spent a lot of money subsidizing many other noncommercial radio or television stations in the United States. According to Ledbetter's Made Possible By..., between 1951 and 1976, the Ford Foundation "spent nearly $300 million on noncommercial radio and television."

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Pacifica relied primarily on listener-sponsor contributions to fund the operations of its radio stations. And in the early 1970s, Pacifica also began to accept funds from the U.S. Establishment's Corporation for Public Broadcasting [CPB], according to Rogue State author William Blum--who worked as a KPFA staffperson in the early 1970s. But in the early 1990s, some Pacifica administrators decided to again seek grants from the Ford Foundation and other Establishment foundations. As former Pacifica Development Director Dick Bunce wrote in the appendix to the "A Strategy for National Programming" document which was prepared for the Pacifica National Board in September 1992, entitled "Appendix Foundation Grantseeking National Programming Assumptions for Foundation Fundraising":

The national foundation grantseeking arena has changed enough in recent years to make activity in this arena potentially worthwhile--for organizations prepared to be players and partners in the same field as NPR, APR, maybe some others...The foundation funding of interest is in gifts of $100,000 or more a year, for several years...Three of America's six largest foundations (Ford, MacArthur, Pew) have begun to fund public broadcasting, public radio in particular, and evidently intend to continue doing so. Pacifica requested meetings with each of these foundations earlier this year and was treated seriously enough in subsequent meetings to give us some hope of securing funding possibly from all three. A `Report Sheet' on this work is included in Appendix 3.


Beyond these three foundations there are no others among the country's 100 largest which have made substantial grants to public broadcasting. So the second tier of foundation prospects look substantially different from the first tier requiring more work on our part to open doors, establish `standing' and find a workable `fit.'

There are nonetheless a number of interesting prospects--in some cases only because of particular people who are currently involved, or because of formal criteria which we could try to fit. The second tier list includes several from the top 100--Rockefeller, Irvine, Surdna, George Gund--Nathan Cummings--and a number of smaller foundations, but still capable of 6 figure grants: Aaron Diamond, Revson, Rockefeller Family & Associates, New World, Winston Foundation for World Peace.


Once we drop to the $35,000 to $75,000 grant range, the list enlarges, but these take as long to cultivate as the bigger ones, so it makes sense to start from the top.


Foundation fundraising at this level has extraordinary payoffs--but it takes senior staff time, not `grantwriting' but in communicating. It is therefore expensive, and not successfully done as an afterthought to everything else in the day. It also requires `venture capital visits' to the foundations to open doors and conversations that lead to partnerships.


In initiating three top level contacts in April, May and June, and attempting to capitalize on the opportunities apparent to us, we have already been stretched beyond our capacity to really interface effectively with these funders--although admittedly much of the problem to date has been due to the fact that we don't yet have a clear business plan for national programming.


Foundation grantmaking will most likely proceed as short-term funding. Funders will want to `fund projects, not operations.' We should presume that we can succeed in raising serious money to launch or establish new programs, etc. but not to sustain them beyond start-up. The standard of self-sufficiency will be required for many proposals we submit, and our own planning will be most successful if we relate to this funding source accordingly.


Short-Run Strategies for Developing a Foundation Grantseeking Program


Seek Development Committee leadership in planning for Foundation grantseeking.


Pursue 3 `anchor' grants to acquire funding beginning in FY'93 from the Big 3 foundations we've already begun to work with.


Long-Range Strategies for Developing a Foundation Grantseeking Program


Initiate an informal `feasibility inquiry' of foundation support for Pacifica's objectives by requesting visits with the dozen top prospects to shape proposals and establish relationships...


Foundation Grants Summary: Late this spring we began our first efforts in national foundation grantseeking on behalf of national programming. We have a good chance of securing six figure grants in the coming fiscal year from any or all of the 3 foundations we're working with, but our approach is still dependent upon our own organizational progress toward a business plan that we are committed to following through on.


The second tier of foundation prospects is more challenging, and will require increased staff resoucres, a modest feasability inquiry and active planning with the Board Development Committee.


By 1995, billionaire speculator George Soros' Open Society Institute had given the Pacifica Foundation a $40,000 grant. And in 1996, the Carnegie Corporation of New York gave Pacifica a $25,000 grant to launch its DEMOCRACY NOW show. In 1997 came a $13,000 grant from the J.M. Kaplan Fund to Pacifica to provide support for DEMOCRACY NOW. And in 1998 came a $25,000 grant to Pacifica from the Public Welfare Foundation "to report on hate crimes and related issues as part of its `DEMOCRACY NOW!" public-affairs radio program and an additional $10,000 grant to support DEMOCRACY NOW from the J.M. Kaplan Fund. That same year the Ford Foundation gave a $75,000 grant to Pacifica "toward marketing consultancy, promotional campaign and program development activities for radio program, DEMOCRACY NOW." In 1998 and 1999, two grants, totalling $22,500, were also given to Pacifica by the Boehm Foundation, to support its DEMOCRACY NOW show.

In early 2002, an additional Ford Foundation grant of $75,000 was given to Deep Dish TV "for the television news series, DEMOCRACY NOW, to continue incorporating the aftermath of the September 11th attack into future broadcasts." Besides being presently subsidized by the Ford Foundation to air Pacifica's DEMOCRACY NOW show, Deep Dish TV, with an annual income of $158,000 in 2000, was also subsidized by the MacArthur Foundation in the 1990s. Between 1993 and 1998, $190,000 in grants were given to Deep Dish TV by the MacArthur Foundation. And one of the members of Deep Dish TV's board of directors in recent years has apparently been a WBAI staffperson named Mario Murillo.

Another Ford Foundation grant of $200,000 was given in April 2002 to the Astraea Foundation, whose former board finance committee chairperson, Leslie Cagan, is presently the chairperson of Pacifica's national board. Three other grants have been given to the Astraea Foundation by the Ford Foundation since 2000: two grants, totalling $75,000, in 2000; and a $200,000 grant in 2001 "for general support and subgrants to community-based organizations addressing social, political and economic justice, especially those focused on lesbians and other sexual minorities." The former finance committee chairperson of the Ford Foundation-sponsored Astraea Foundation recently signed a $2 million "golden handshake / sweetheart contract" with the Ford Foundation-sponsored, soon-to-be-privatized DEMOCRACY NOW producer (who has apparently been receiving a $90,000/year salary from Pacifica in recent years for her alternative journalism work).

homepage: homepage: http://www.questionsquestions.net/feldman/feldman01.html