In The Pay of Foundations—Part 13
How U.S. power elite and liberal establishment foundations fund a "parallel left" media network of left media journalists and gatekeepers.
After the U.S. power elite's Ford Foundation began to provide funding for the parallel left Democracy Now! daily news show in 1998, the total and net revenues of the tax-exempt, "non-profit" Democracy Now! Productions media firm and the annual total compensation received by Democracy Now! host-producer Goodman increased. Between December 2003 and December 2006, for example, Democracy Now! Productions' total annual revenues increased from over $2.2 million to over $3.9 million, according to its Form 990 financial filings for 2003 and 2006; and the amount that the "non-profit" media firm's total annual revenues exceeded its total annual expense increased from over $900,000 to over $1 million during the same period. In addition, between December 2003 and December 2006, Goodman's annual total compensation for her alternative media work increased from $58,204 to $61,137 [equal to over $75,000 in 2018].
In a 2000 interview with Philanthropy Magazine, Trilateral Commission member and then-Ford Foundation president Susan Berresford gave the official version of how the Ford Foundation, which helped fund the Democracy Now! show with $300,000 in grant money between 1998 and 2004, operated during that period:
"We have a senior management team that meets every Monday morning in my office...I approve all grants over $100,000. Grants up to $100,000 can be made by staff at various levels. We budget on a two-year basis, and we work with our board...Every grantmaker writes what we call a program office memo. That is ultimately approved by his or her immediate supervisor and then by someone at a vice-presidential program level. Then, all grants that they make under $100,000 pursuant to that memo, they and their immediate supervisors approve. And anything over that needs my approval. We meet every other week for an entire morning; and all the grants over $100,000 that have been recommended in the prior two-week period are on a list and we talk about them.
"I get a write-up on every single grant. There may be 50 on the list, or ten on the list. I read them all, think about them all, and we discuss some of them...The meeting is really a group discussion. I lead it, and I have to put my signature on the grant in the end, but all the officers of the foundation are there, and any program officer or any staff member who wants to attend can attend and participate.
"...We make grants of $1,000 and we make $50 million grants. We make endowment grants and project grants and general support grants..."
Besides approving "all grants over $100,000" (including the $150,000 grant given to Democracy Now! Productions Inc. in 2004) in early 21st-century, former Ford Foundation president Berresford was a former member of the board of directors of Chase Manhattan Bank and a member of the North American Committee of David Rockefeller's Trilateral Commission--sitting next to other U.S. Establishment figures, such as Zbigniew Brzezinski and Madeline Albright. In addition, Berresford was also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, to which the Ford Foundation gave a grant of $100,000 "for the development of a Council Task Force on Terrorism" in 2002. And featured on the Council on Foreign Relations web site at www.cfr.org on 9/26/02 was an advertisement for "a New Council book," which stated "Invasion Is the Only Realistic Option to Head off the Threat from Iraq, Argues Kenneth Pollack in The Threatening Storm."
In her 2000 interview with Philanthropy Magazine, Berresford also indicated that the Ford Foundations' board of trustees was "a policy-making board" that "set foundation policy" and "set the budget level and broad allocations," during the 1998 to 2004 period when the foundation helped fund the parallel left Democracy Now! show.
In the 1990s and early 21st-century the Ford Foundation board of trustees included two former CEOs and former board chairmen of the Xerox Corporation, the CEO and board chairman of ALCOA, an executive vice-president and general counsel of Coca Cola Company, the chairman and CEO of Levi Strauss & Co., the chairman of Reuters Holdings, PLC, the senior partner of the Akin, Gump,Straus Hauser and Feld lobbying firm, and the president of Vassar College. Other corporations with directors who sat on the Ford Foundation board of trustees in the late 1990s or after 2000 included Time Warner, Chase Manhattan Bank, Ryder Systems, CBS, AT & T, Adolph Coors Company, Dayton-Hudson, the Bank of England, J.P. Morgan, Marine Midland Bank, Southern California Edison, KRCX Radio, the Central Gas and Electric Corp. DuPont, Citicorp and the New York Stock Exchange.
The Ford Foundation's Board of Trustees' Education, Media, Arts and Culture Committee in the late 1990s, for example, included the president of Vassar College, the chairman of Reuters Holdings PLC, the former chairman and CEO of Xerox and Bill and Hillary Clinton crony Vernon Jordan--also a director of Revlon, American Express, J.C. Penney, Sara Lee, Xerox, Bankers Trust, Dow Jones, Union Carbide and Ryder Systems. Jordan also was the chair of the Ford Foundation Board of Trustee's Audit and Management Committee in the late 1990s.
In 2002, the wife of the Bush II White House's presidential historian (Michael Beschloss] sat on the Ford Foundation board of trustees. Ford Foundation Trustee Afsaneh Mashayetkhi Beschloss, a former World Bank managing officer, also was the CEO/president of the Carlyle Asset Management Group. President Bush II's father George Herbert Walker Bush, former Secretary of Defense and former Deputy CIA Director Frank Carlucci, former Secretary of State James Baker and Billionaire Speculator George Soros were also involved in the Carlyle Group that Ford Foundation Trustee Mashayetkhi Beschloss managed. The Ford Foundation board-linked Carlyle Group received $1.3 billion in Pentagon war contracts in 1999, was the 11th-largest recipient of Pentagon war contracts in 2000 and invested heavily in war stock. In addition, former Texaco vice-president/general counsel, former Coca-Cola executive vice-president/general counsel and former Democratic Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, who joined the Bain Capital private equity investment/stock speculation firm that former GOP Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney founded, as its Double Impact business managing director, in 2015, sat on the Ford Foundation board of trustees in early 21st century.
In her 2000 interview with Philanthropy Magazine, then-Ford Foundation president Berresford also indicated where some of the Ford Foundation grant money was coming from when it helped fund Democracy Now! in the early 21st-century:
"We set our budget at 5.8 percent of a three-year rolling average of our portfolio value. Then, depending on our judgment about the stock market and other things, we may move around a little bit from that...Linda Strumpf is the vice president for investment [in 2000] at the foundation. We have an investment committee of the board. They are in touch regularly and Linda and I talk frequently. We all think hard about asset allocation and the broad investment choices we make...In recent years, we have put a significant amount of money into venture capital and a lot of that in technology, and have done very, very well with those investments....We do not, other than in a very few cases, screen investments... "
Besides managing the Ford Foundation's multi-billion dollar unscreened investment portfolio and the rest of the Ford Foundation's $10.7 billion in assets in 2000, then-Ford Foundation Vice-President for Investments Strumpf was also a member of the investment committee of the Ford Foundation-funded Ms. Foundation for Women. In addition, the then-Ford Foundation Vice-President for Investments was also a member of the investment committee of Penn State University—which received over $58 million in war research contracts from the Pentagon in 1999. And in 1999, the "non-profit," tax-exempt Ford Foundation paid its then white female vice-president for investments an annual salary of $852,911 [equal to over $1.2 million in 2018].
During the 6 years that the Ford Foundation helped fund Democracy Now!, the show may not have provided its listeners and viewers with much information about which transnational corporations the Ford Foundation invested in historically or currently. Yet In the December 1988 issue of Multinational Monitor, Jim Donahue reported, in an article entitled "The Foundations of Apartheid and The Nuclear Industry," that in 1988, during the apartheid era, the Ford Foundation had $1.32 billion invested in companies doing business in South Africa, accounting for 43 percent of its total investment value at that time.
Multinational Monitor also observed in 1988 that "Nuclear Weapons-Linked Investment Corporations that receive government contracts to build components for nuclear weapons are popular among leading foundations" and "the Ford Foundation...holdings account for 16 percent of Ford's total investment value, or $496 million, with the largest holding being in nuclear-contract-linked IBM and General Electric."
In 2001, one of the years in which the Ford Foundation helped fund Democracy Now!, over $4 billion of the Ford Foundation's $10.7 billion in assets was invested in U.S. corporate stock and over $1.3 billion in foreign corporate stock. And from its billions of dollars in corporate stockholdings in 2001, the "non-profit" Ford Foundation received $343 million in dividends and interest income and earned an additional capital gains income of $992 million. Yet on its 2001 annual income, the "non-profit" Ford Foundation only paid a 1% excise tax.
But despite the great power that control over such excess wealth gives to Establishment foundations like the Ford Foundation to influence world history and manage social change on behalf of Ultra-Rich power elite interests, the parallel left Democracy Now! show rarely reported critically on the world of Big Foundations. Yet without an understanding of the political economic and cultural role that Big Foundations play in global politics, one can't really understand how the System operates or how world history is determined. And one's political and intellectual consciousness and analysis is going to remain incomplete and partial, in a significant way.
In an article, entitled "Getting Behind the Media: What are the subtle tradeoffs of foundation support for journalists?", Rick Edmunds characterized the ethical issues that develops when journalists--even alternative media journalists--begin to rely on subsidies from the Big Foundation to fund their alternative media work:
"In research published...by the Poynter Institute on the rising number, scope, and dollar amounts of foundation grants for journalism, I found that media recipients are becoming ever more comfortable--and perhaps less reflective--about taking the money...When they show up with much-needed funding for an investigative series or pay the freight for a reporter working on an underreported beat, foundations don't receive the same due-diligence scrutiny for hidden subtext that journalists apply to a corporate press release or a politician's statement. The effect that foundation money may have on the news business is subtle but real, and increasingly troubling on the ethical front...
"...The lack of overt editorial should not blind us to the more subtle, one might say cultural, ties that bind these news organizations to their funders. There are, for example, any number of opportunities for grant makers to shape the editorial product as it is developed...If the foundations' and recipients' goals have been properly `aligned' not much more may be needed to see that the intent is carried out...
"Lost in the benevolent fog that surrounds most foundations is the notion that they may have more of an agenda, not less, than a sponsoring corporation...Cultural affinity can sometimes make it difficult for editors and journalists to draw the distinction between accepting a grant and accepting a funder's point of view..." (end of part 13)
contribute to this article
add comment to discussion