Special to WorldTribune.com, July 19, 2021
Commentary by Joe Schaeffer
Maybe you’ve noticed. There is some sort of behind-the-scenes push going on to make The Texas Tribune a respected mainstream journalism source.
This trend is especially observable whenever any news out of the Lone Star State goes national. The name “Texas Tribune” seems to be appearing with much, much more frequency within the big-box media orbit and other establishment tentacles over the past several months.
Don’t buy into it.
It’s fairly easy to deduce why The Texas Tribune is being pushed to the forefront when one considers who is funding its operation. The outlet claims to be a “member-supported, nonpartisan newsroom informing & engaging Texans on state politics & policy.”
A casual glance at its well-heeled financial backers reveals all sorts of enormous conflicts of interest immediately obvious to a child. But it’s OK because the Tribune says of itself:
Donors and members subscribe to The Texas Tribune’s belief that promoting greater civic engagement and informed discourse is a direct route to a better and more productive Texas. They play no role in guiding the journalism produced by the Tribune or the planning and execution of events.
Whew. Thanks for telling us that.
An “All Time” supporter listing on the Tribune’s website reveals the following moneyed institutions have given the following to this “news source” over the years:
Facebook Journalism Project – $2,508,750
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – $2,267,163
Ford Foundation – $1,551,790
In a 2019 interview with The Communications Network, Texas Tribune CEO Evan Smith said:
Ford [Foundation] has been a funder, a generous funder, of The Texas Tribune for six years. We don’t take it for granted every year…. But our largest annual institutional giver is the Gates Foundation.
No matter how much the Tribune may want to preen and posture, what it is doing is not journalism. Let’s give an example.
A June 2020 Tribune article was headlined, “In false Facebook posts, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller accused George Soros of paying protesters to ‘destroy’ the country.”
The text of the piece was even more forthright in its defense of progressive globalist billionaire Soros:
Soros, who has spent billions of dollars supporting liberal and pro-democracy causes around the world, has long been a target of conspiracy theorists on the ideological right. Some theories note his Jewish heritage and invoke antisemitic tropes. The Anti-Defamation League has reported that hundreds of thousands of social media posts in recent days have falsely suggested that he is behind the recent protests. Fact-checkers have debunked multiple fake flyers circulating on social media purported to be from organizations linked to Soros that were offering people money to protest.
Tacked on at the end of the article was the following note:
Disclosure: The Foundation to Promote Open Society, founded by George Soros, has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.
Pay no attention to our virulent ideological defense of George Soros disguised as a news article! Yes, he gives us money, but we are NONPARTISAN. Nothing to see here, folks.
How about those other notorious concentrated-wealth big-ticket backers? Do you think coronavirus lockdown maestro Bill Gates might have liked this July 2020 thread from the Tribune’s Twitter feed?
You may have seen viral posts saying that wearing masks can have negative health effects.
— Texas Tribune (@TexasTribune) July 7, 2020
Despite all the disclosures and whatnot, some pay for play does indeed seem to be going on here. Donate money, get rewarded. Here is the Ford Foundation being featured at the 2015 Texas Tribune Festival…
— Texas Tribune (@TexasTribune) September 21, 2020
In 2013, the rabidly leftist foundation funded the creation of the Tribune’s border “bureau.” Nice word. Makes it all sound very newsroomy. The Ford Foundation is a zealous advocate of the illegal immigration invasion of our country.
And how about this hat trick of conflict? Glenn Brown, a member of the Tribune’s Board of Directors, has ties to Google, YouTube (owned by Google), Twitter and the Obama Foundation:
Brown has worked at the intersection of media, technology, and audience in a variety of companies and nonprofits: Creative Commons (CEO, Board of Directors), Google (Product Counsel), YouTube (Product Counsel, Head of U.S. Music Partnerships), Twitter (co-founder of Twitter Amplify video partnerships / product), betaworks (EIR), and, most recently, the Obama Foundation (Chief Digital Officer).
Based on the above information, it should not be surprising to learn that The Texas Tribune has shilled for weakening Voter ID requirements in Texas for years.
Here’s another ridiculous note tacked onto the end of a 2013 article on the topic:
Texas Tribune donors or members may be quoted or mentioned in our stories, or may be the subject of them. For a complete list of contributors, click here.
Though not readily transparent from that sentence, the Tribune is no doubt referring to its troubling connection with the leftist Brennan Center for Justice, which is quoted repeatedly in one Voter ID article after another published by the “news outlet.”
The 2020 Brennan Center annual report shows that the Ford Foundation – anchor donor of the Tribune – lavished $2 million-plus in funding upon the Brennan Center for that year alone.
We repeat: This is NOT journalism.
We’ll end with one more pathetic example. Neoconservative establishment would-be 2016 presidential election chaos candidate Evan McMullin is listed as a supporting “member” of the Texas Tribune (see the “Joined in 2019” section). Here’s what the Tribune says about its members:
Without the support of our members, The Texas Tribune wouldn’t be here today. Whether you’re a first-time member, a founding member or somewhere in between — THANK YOU for your support. We hope you’ll stick with us for another decade of exceptional journalism for our exceptional state.
McMullin’s lame campaign was the subject of giddy ostensibly nonpartisan news articles published by the Tribune in 2016 and he was featured at that year’s Texas Tribune Festival during his bogus White House run that was meant to steal one state from Trump on behalf of Democrat Hillary Clinton. McMullin was personally interviewed by Tribune CEO Evan Smith himself and duly performed his assigned role:
“Donald Trump is a racist,” McMullin said in an interview at the Texas Tribune Festival in Austin. “Trump is a racist brand. We need to call a spade a spade, and any American leader needs to stand up for equality in this country.”
Bert Roughton Jr., “retired senior managing editor and editorial director” for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, hailed the “much-respected Texas Tribune” in a 2019 piece on the new model of “philanthropy”-supported “journalism.”
“[W]hatever the revenue model, the first order of business is rebuilding trust,” Roughton asserted. “Journalism’s esteem worldwide is at rock bottom. Nothing else matters if this ugly truth can’t be reversed.”
If media apparatchiks of the ruling regime truly believe that advancing a “news” organization funded by Bill Gates, George Soros, Facebook and the Ford Foundation will restore their standing with the American people, they are even more far gone than anyone could have imagined.
It’s more likely, though, that they are fully aware of what they have become and what their industry is today. Journalists? Not a chance. Officially aligned propagandists straight out of Pravda circa 1937 is not an unfair comparison.
Joe Schaeffer is the former Managing Editor of The Washington Times National Weekly Edition. His columns appear at WorldTribune.com and FreePressInternational.org.