Troubling questions: media donations to the Clinton Foundation

clintonfoundation

While listening to Oregon Public Broadcasting the other day I heard an interviewer mention that Public Radio International (PRI) had given money to the Clinton Foundation.

A review of the Clinton Foundation’s records reveals that PRI has, in fact, donated $10,000 – $25,000 to the Foundation. The purpose of the donation is not given.

Talk about bizarre. A major non-profit media organization that relies on donations itself, turns right around and gives some of its limited resources to another non-profit, the Clinton Foundation.

I asked PRI to explain, but they didn’t respond.

In the process of researching the issue, I learned something even more disturbing. PRI is one of dozens of media organizations that have donated to the Clinton Foundation, creating or maintaining questionable symbiotic relationships.

One of the other media donors is Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), a non-profit provider of programs to public television stations that relies on donations itself.

Media, which harp on their commitment to ethical behavior, clearly have a problem here. How can they not see it?

Last week the Clinton Foundation said it won’t accept donations from corporations or foreign entities if Hillary Clinton is elected president. A halt to accepting media donations should be adopted, too.

Other media-related donors to the Clinton Foundation include:

$1,000,000-$5,000,000

 Carlos Slim, Telecom magnate and largest shareholder of The New York Times Company

 James Murdoch, Chief Operating Officer of 21st Century Fox

 Newsman Media, Florida-based conservative media network

 Thomson Reuters, Reuters news service owner

 

$500,000-$1,000,000

 Google

 News Corporation Foundation

 

$250,000-$500,000

 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Publisher

 Richard Mellon Scaife, Owner of Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

 

$100,000-$250,000

 Bloomberg Philanthropies

 Howard Stringer, Former CBS, CBS News and Sony executive

 Intermountain West Communications Company, Local television affiliate owner (formerly Sunbelt Communications)

 

$50,000-$100,000

 Bloomberg L.P.

 Discovery Communications Inc.

 Mort Zuckerman, Owner of New York Daily News and U.S. News & World Report

 Time Warner Inc., Owner of CNN parent company Turner Broadcasting

George Stephanopoulos, Communications director and senior adviser for policy and strategy to President Clinton

 

$25,000-$50,000

 AOL

 HBO

 Hollywood Foreign Press Association

 Viacom

 

$10,000-$25,000

 Knight Foundation

Turner Broadcasting, Parent company of CNN

 Twitter

 

$5,000-$10,000

 Comcast, Parent company of NBCUniversal

 NBC Universal, Parent company of NBC News, MSNBC and CNBC

 Public Broadcasting Service

 

$1,000-$5,000

 Robert Allbritton, Owner of POLITICO

 

$250-$1,000

 AOL Huffington Post Media Group

 Hearst Corporation

 Judy Woodruff, PBS Newshour co-anchor and managing editor

 The Washington Post Company

 

Do no evil: Google’s Digital News Initiative is a bad deal

Want to know how to win friends and influence publishers: give them money.

So much for Google’s “Do no evil” mantra. Its decision to launch a “Digital News Initiative” with eight news publishers in Europe is a clear effort to influence news coverage and political activity.

Publishers that value their integrity and know journalism should just say no.

googledonoevil

Google is facing a European Union investigation into allegations that it has abused its monopoly positions in online search and has improperly bundled its Android apps.

Despite the timing, Google insists that the digital initiative is not simply a P.R. effort or an attempt to discourage major media from undermining the company’s business goals. Sure.

In Google’s early years, it declared that one of the ten things it knew to be true was, “You can make money without doing evil.” Apparently it’s changed its mind.

At the same time, newspapers used to believe that their job was to be speak the unvarnished truth. As Adolph S. Ochs, the founding father of the modern New York Times, declared more than a century ago, 100 years ago, the paper was committed “…to give the news impartially, without fear or favor, regardless of party, sect, or interests involved…” Apparently some newspapers trying to adapt to the new digital world have changed their mind, too.

Google announced today (April 28) that the initiative will initially have eight publishing partners: the Financial Times; Les Echos in France; NRC Media in the Netherlands; El Pais in Spain; La Stampa in Italy, Faz and Die Zeit in Germany; and the Guardian in the U.K. Publications from Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp are noticeably absent.

Founding partners also include The European Journalism Centre (EJC), The Global Editors Network (GEN), and The International News Media Association (INMA). Publications from Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp are noticeably absent.

Under the partnership, Google plans:

  • to work with the publishers to establish a ‘product working group’ to enable a close, on-going dialogue exploring product developments to increase revenue, traffic and audience engagement
  • Create a €150m ($164 million) innovation fund to support and stimulate innovation in digital news journalism over the next three years.
  • Invest in new training and development resources for journalists and newsrooms across Europe

News publishers may try to rationalize such a partnership with Google, but the fact is this does not auger well for the their independence. As the saying goes, you are judged by the company you keep.