Monday, February 28, 2011

George Soros' Media Conspiracy

Before the FCC approved Comcast's purchase of NBC Universal earlier this month, it strongly suggested to Comcast that as the new owner of 10 local NBC affiliates, it should invest in partnerships with nonprofit news organizations such as Voice of San Diego.

Comcast agreed. But now some conspiracy theorists have cooked up an even better story as to who was behind the deal. Turns out, it was none other than financier/philanthropist George Soros -- or so we are told by conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart.

He writes:

There’s just one problem with this: Voice of San Diego is a member of INN (Investigative News Network) which is funded by the Open Society Institute, the URL of which is “” Yes, these “non-profit” journalism centers are funded by George Soros. ... People who have an economic interest in the fall of the American economic system ... are completely free to invest in newsrooms but they are not free to cut a deal with the FCC to have the inclusion of their group be a mandate for a merger.

If it sounds like some important context is missing from this statement, that's because it is. Nothing in the FCC order requires Comcast to partner with INN members or any other specific nonprofit news organization.

Breitbart also fails to mention that INN members get funding from a wide range of funders, including libertarian groups. The catch: Contrary to Breitbart's claim, the funders don't get to dictate what is covered and how. It's an important distinction, one that separates journalism from public relations. It's a simple concept, but apparently not one that Breitbart is intellectually capable of making.

Consider the source: Breitbart may be best known for doctoring a video of Shirley Sherrod, the former Georgia director for rural development for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to make it appear that she was practicing reverse discrimination against white farmers. Earlier this month, Sherrod sued Breitbart for defamation.

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