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Media Transparency tracks the impact of conservative philanthropy on the media, both through a database of grant information and through original research.

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Conservative Philanthropy

A discussion of the history and influence of conservative philanthropy on the shaping of public attitudes on a variety of subject areas; includes links to reports related to conservative philanthropy, and links to other significant commentary on the subject.


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Bill Berkowitz
July 10, 2006

Center for the Study of Popular Culture becomes David Horowitz Freedom Center

Leading Bush non-profit political ally changes name, plans expansion and new hires

Last week, in a move akin to the establishment of a George W. Bush Center for Intellectual Curiosity & Open Government, a Barry Bonds Center for Organic Medicine, a Rosanne Barr Center for the Study of the Singing of the National Anthem, an OJ Simpson Center for Criminal Justice, or an Ann Coulter Center for Combating Plagiarism and Encouraging Civil Discourse, the Board of Directors of David Horowitz's Center for the Study of Popular Culture announced that it was changing the organization's name to The David Horowitz Freedom Center.

While it must have taken a linguistic contortionist to create the new name -- one doesn't think of Horowitz -- the sixties radical lefty turned right wing provocateur/entrepreneur -- when thinking about freedom -- the Center's Board Chair decided the time was right for the change.

"We decided on a name change for two reasons," said Board Chairman Jess Morgan. "First, when the Center began, just as the Cold War was ending, we thought that the significant issue of our time would be the political radicalization of popular culture. The culture is still a battleground, but after 9/11, it is clear that freedom itself is under assault from the new totalitarianism: Islamic fascism. Secondly, David Horowitz, the Center's founder, has become increasingly identified with issues of freedom at home and abroad. We wanted to honor him and also support the efforts he has undertaken. The name change does this and rededicates us to the mission at hand."

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Bill Berkowitz
July 6, 2006

Charles Colson fights ruling against his religious based prison program

In strong language, District Court judge ordered prison rehab ministry shut down

After serving time in prison for Watergate-related crimes, Charles W. Colson embraced Christianity, founded Prison Fellowship Ministries in 1976, and has since become a high profile, well-respected and oft-quoted Christian conservative leader. Over the past several years, Colson's InnerChange Freedom Initiative has partnered with prison authorities in several states, including Texas, Minnesota, Kansas, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Missouri, to provide prisoners with a Christ-centered rehabilitation program.

In June, however, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Pratt, chief judge of the US District Court for the Southern District of Iowa, handed Colson's operation a setback. Judge Pratt ruled in favor of a suit filed by Americans United for Separation of Church and State (Americans United) which claimed that IFI's operation at Iowa's Newton Correctional Facility violated the Establishment Clause of the US Constitution.

Judge Pratt ordered an "end" to the program within 60 days, and also ordered InnerChange to reimburse more than $1.5 million to the state of Iowa.

"For all practical purposes, the state has literally established an Evangelical Christian congregation within the walls of one its penal institutions, giving the leaders of that congregation, i.e., InnerChange employees, authority to control the spiritual, emotional, and physical lives of hundreds of Iowa inmates," wrote Pratt. "There are no adequate safeguards present, nor could there be, to ensure that state funds are not being directly spent to indoctrinate Iowa inmates."

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Bill Berkowitz
June 30, 2006

"God's Sugar Daddy"

School voucher proponent James Leininger has spent millions trying to buy political power in Texas

While the philanthropic community has been abuzz about recent reports that billionaire investor Warren Buffett, the world's second wealthiest man, will be giving a large part of his $44 billion fortune to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), a less well-known Texas billionaire, James Leininger, has allocated his millions for different purposes: He's dedicated a large chunk of money to insuring that the religious right maintains its dominance over the Texas political landscape.

Buffet's gift to the BMGF, according to Business Week, "could ultimately double the size of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to $60 billion, creating a mega-philanthropy the likes of which the world has never seen." The money, the magazine pointed out, will allow the Gateses foundation to "hand out a staggering $3 billion a year in grants ... [and] create unprecedented resources ... [to be] use[d] to address such vexing problems as AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria in developing nations, and the high school dropout rate in the U.S."

Meanwhile, back in Texas, the relatively unknown Leininger, a San Antonio-based physician and businessman who made a fortune largely by selling specialty hospital beds, and who has been a major contributor to conservative causes and candidates for years, is becoming much more visible due to his quest to spread school vouchers throughout the state.

According to the Texas Freedom Network, Leininger initiated an "unprecedented effort" to "buy a Legislature that will turn his obsession -- a reckless private school voucher plan -- into law."

Read the story >

Bill Berkowitz
June 23, 2006

The Selling of Evangelical Christianity

Larry Ross' A. Larry Ross Communications brings Christian marketing into the twenty-first century

You've probably never heard of him or his public relations company, but you've certainly heard of many of his clients. Over the years, he has represented such heavy hitters as the Rev. Billy Graham, Pastor Rick Warren of Lake Forest, California's Saddleback Church, Texas's African American MegaChurch Pastor T.D. Jakes, and the up-and-coming Ohio Pastor, Rod Parsley, the head of Ohio's Center for Moral Clarity.

He has worked with the Promise Keepers, the international men's ministry, as well as such movies as "Left Behind," a film based on the popular series of apocalyptic novels of the same name, "The Prince of Egypt," and actor/director Mel Gibson's blockbuster, "The Passion of the Christ."

He is Larry Ross and he heads up the Dallas, Texas-based A. Larry Ross Communications. For more than 25 years, Ross has been marketing conservative evangelical Christianity.

Read the story >

Bill Berkowitz
June 6, 2006

Jim Towey's brave new faith-based world

The head of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives moves on after successfully promoting and expanding the president's religion-based patronage system

Unlike the sudden resignation of CIA Director Porter Goss on Friday, May 5 � which caught the media by surprise -- the long anticipated replacement of White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan with columnist and the Fox News Channel's Tony Snow, or the recent replacement of Treasury Secretary John Snow with Goldman Sachs chief executive Henry Paulson, when Jim Towey announced his decision to move on, the media barely blinked an eye.

On April 18, 2006 Towey, who served for more than four years as Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Office of Community and Faith-Based Initiatives, announced that as of July 1, he would become president of Saint Vincent College, a small Catholic school in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.

In announcing his resignation, Towey told reporters that he expected the faith-based program to continue in the future regardless of who may be in the White House: "I think you'll be talking about this for generations. Because we will never help our poor if we don't give them reasons to change, and government can't love and government cannot bond and connect with our poor. They will never have the trust of the poor like a rabbi or a preacher or some of these grass-roots groups that may have no particular faith at all."

That there was a general lack of media interest in Towey's departure may say more about the media than his record.

Towey has unquestionably left his mark: It would not be an understatement to give him credit for helping set the president's then-floundering faith-based initiative back on track.

Read the story >

Bill Berkowitz
June 2, 2006

Competitive Enterprise Institute's Category 5 Gore bashing

Conservatives having a field day with the release of Al Gore's new film on global warming

If former Vice President Al Gore eventually decides to mount another run for presidency, it may be that the bashing he received from the right during the run-up to and premiere of "An Inconvenient Truth," his new highly-acclaimed documentary film warning of the dangers of global warming, was a motivating factor.

According to New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, Gore's movie "suggests that there are three reasons it's hard to get action on global warming. The first is boiled-frog syndrome: Because the effects of greenhouse gases build up gradually, at any given moment it's easier to do nothing. The second is the perception, nurtured by a careful disinformation campaign, that there's still a lot of uncertainty about whether man-made global warming is a serious problem. The third is the belief, again fostered by disinformation, that trying to curb global warming would have devastating economic effects."

The release of the film has been accompanied by disinfomania from conservatives; an onslaught of anti-Gore and global warming denial commentary. The National Review ran a cover story with the self-explanatory title, "Scare of the Century." And on the May 23 edition of the Fox News Channel's "Dayside," Sterling Burnett, a senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis cranked up the volume, calling the film "propaganda." Burnett added: "You don't go see Joseph Goebbels' films to see the truth about Nazi Germany. You don't want to go see Al Gore's film to see the truth about global warming."

Another longtime, and leading, purveyor of disinformation about global warming is the Washington, D.C.-based Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), which is attempting to discredit Gore's film, while continuing its campaign aimed at convincing the public that the jury "is still out" on the issue and there is no global warming crisis.

Read the story >

Bill Berkowitz
May 31, 2006

Karl Zinsmeister moves on up to the White House

Former editor-in-chief of the American Enterprise Institute's magazine appointed President Bush's top domestic advisor

We can't say with absolute certainty, but we suspect that unlike his predecessor, Karl Zinsmeister, the Bush Administration's newly appointed top domestic policy advisor, has not been ripping off Target, Hecht or any other D.C.-area department store. We can only assume that his credit card record is clean, and that the vetting process was a lot more thorough than the one used when former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik was nominated by George W. Bush to head up the Department of Homeland Security. Soon after being nominated, Kerik -- a longtime buddy and business partner of former NYC Mayor Rudolph Giuliani -- was forced to withdraw his name after admitting to employing an illegal immigrant as a nanny, and revelations surfaced about extramarital affairs and past conflicts of interest.

So while Claude Allen -- the Black conservative who previously held the job Zinsmeister is taking -- is waiting for the legal system to deal with charges that he committed serial fraud at several department stores in the Washington, D.C. area, Zinsmeister will stroll on over to the White House from the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), and assume the position.

Read the story >

Bill Berkowitz
May 27, 2006

Spurned by Washington Republicans, Frank Luntz turns to Canada

From Canada to Great Britain, from Iowa to the nation's capital, Frank Luntz is racking up the frequent flyer miles these days. Luntz, the Republican pollster/consultant and message massager, appears to be at his best when he's darting from one place to another dispensing advice and offering up fanciful political frames.

Recently, after an apparently fruitful meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Luntz met with a group of Canadian conservatives and advised them how to win upcoming elections.

But Canada was only one stop for the Luntzmobile.

In recent weeks, the Toronto Star reported, Luntz weighed in with his "analysis of British Conservative Leader David Cameron's electoral chances, [given] his take on whether New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg could run as an independent for president ... and has tested the appeal of Democrat presidential hopefuls Joe Biden and John Edwards in New Hampshire and Iowa."

In addition, the New York Daily News reported, in a "private" meeting with 20 Republican state senators from New York, Luntz told them "to spurn any offers of campaign help made by [Gov. George] Pataki, according to people who attended the Albany gathering last week. �He told us if the governor offers help, just tell him you are going to be out of town or on vacation,' said one source."

Read the story >

Bill Berkowitz
May 22, 2006

Media Research Center takes on 'The West Wing'

Conservative Philanthropy supported group claims show had liberal bias

The 2,195th CyberAlert, issued on Friday May 12, 2006 is a gift to both current and former fans of "The West Wing," from the resolute media watchers at the Media Research Center. When the series premiered on NBC in September 1999 -- toward the end of the Clinton years -- it started off by immediately pressing a political hot button: President Josiah Bartlet, played by Martin Sheen, told a group of conservative religious leaders to "get your fat asses out of my White House."

"The West Wing"--which ended its seven-year run on Sunday, May 14 -- was smart television; it won scads of Emmys. Critics raved about its fast-paced and intelligent dialogue, its willingness to take on tough political issues, and its magnificent ensemble cast. The show captured the imagination of television viewers across the country, and it soon became a top rated program.

The Media Research Center's crack team of media critics recently characterized the first episode of the series this way: "Viewers saw how the Hollywood Left views conservatives as the show concocted a preposterous plot and series of scenes which portrayed leaders of the Religious Right as anti-Semitic buffoons. The show culminated with an angry Democratic 'President Josiah Bartlet'...indignantly telling some conservative ministers: 'You can all get your fat asses out of my White House.'"

Over the years, as the national political landscape changed and Aaron Sorkin, the show's primary creator, left the program, viewers started drifting away. The plots got thinner, the so-called liberalism got a little washed out, the characters seemed to lose their bearings, and as shows are wont to do in serial television, "The West Wing" grew stale.

Read the story >

Bill Berkowitz
May 15, 2006

Anti-Gay leader to mobilize legions of "values voters" for Kenneth Blackwell in Ohio

Phil Burress' Cincinnati, Ohio-based Citizens for Community Values goes statewide

Kenneth Blackwell On May 2, 2006 Kenneth Blackwell, Ohio's controversial Black conservative Secretary of State defeated current Attorney General Jim Petro in the Republican gubernatorial primary. Phil Burress, the head of an Ohio-based political action committee called Citizens for Community Values Action (CCVA), observed that Blackwell -- the candidate his organization backed -- won because of his longtime support for "family values," particularly his backing of Ohio's anti-same sex marriage amendment which passed in 2004. Burress expects Blackwell to defeat his Democratic challenger, Congressman Ted Strickland, and to help get that done he intends to mobilize legions of "values voters."

A few weeks earlier, members of a Cincinnati, Ohio-based group called Equal Rights Not Special Rights (ERNSP - a 501(c)(3) charity), another of Phil Burress' enterprises, marched into the office of Joe Gray, the city's finance director, carrying some 14 to 15 thousand signatures -- twice the number necessary -- from city residents on petitions calling for the repeal of the city's new lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality ordinance. According to a recent report in Gay People's Chronicle, the "city council passed the ordinance last month" but the intervention by ERNSP -- just before it was scheduled to take effect on April 14 -- will force the ordinance onto the November ballot.

Thirteen years ago Burress' Citizens for Community Values (CCV) played a pivotal role in forcing the removal of "sexual orientation" from Cincinnati's original human rights ordinance, thereby prohibiting the city from protecting gays, lesbians or bisexuals. Voters finally repealed article 12 in 2004.

In fact, Phil Burress, the born again Christian and one-time union leader and porn addict, "is behind almost every anti-gay effort in Ohio," the Gay People's Chronicle recently pointed out.

Read the story >

Bill Berkowitz
May 8, 2006

Is it a Massachusetts 'Miracle'?

The Heritage Foundation plays key role in a new health care initiative that promises to cover 95% of the state's uninsured

A few weeks back UC Berkeley's Nicholas C. Petris Center on Healthcare Markets and Consumer Welfare (named after the former California State Senator whose legislative career was marked by his deep concern with California's health care issues) sponsored a seminar on health care. One panel in particular examined the current status of California's Proposition 63 -- the State's 2004 mental health initiative funded through a tax on millionaires.

While many considered the passage of Proposition 63 something of an electoral "miracle," these days just about everyone involved in health care policy is talking about another "miracle" -- Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney's plan to provide healthcare insurance for 95 percent of the state's uninsured.

In mid-April, Massachusetts became the first state in the nation to require every individual to have health insurance -- whether they want it or not -- or possibly be subject to financial penalties. The new plan not only will cover the vast majority of the uninsured, but it represents what politicians like to call a "bipartisan compromise." The legislation was crafted by the state's conservative Republican Governor and supported by its Democratic-controlled legislature.

It appears that the reasons this legislative package was put together now was due to the impending loss of more than $300 million in Medicaid funds if it didn't establish a reform plan; a ballot initiative that would have called for a much more substantial payroll tax based contribution from employers was threatened; a strong presence of pro-consumer health care organizations; and the significant role played by Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation of Massachusetts' Roadmap to Coverage initiative.

Read the story >

More Original Research

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July 10, 2006

American Enterprise Institute's Claim: Soldiers Faking Post-Battle Stress

The American Enterprise Institute [Sally Satel] suspects that U.S. soldiers are fabricating instances of post-traumatic stress syndrome. Blogger Respectful of Otters dismantles the claims...

Also see:

American Enterprise Institute

American Enterprise Institute

Grants to "Sally L. Satel"

Sally L. Satel

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July 10, 2006
Taylor Marsh

JOHN MURTHA: Anatomy of a Smear

...Prior to 2005, The Cybercast News Service (CNS), purveyor of all things conservative and run by L. Brent Bozell III, had only one article about Rep. John Murtha. The headline was laudatory: Congressional Bill Would Establish Memorial for Victims of 9/11 (March 8, 2002). But on November 18, 2005, Bozell's team shot into action and hasn't stopped attacking Rep. Murtha since.

Also see:

Media Research Center

L. Brent Bozell

Read the story >


Philadelphia Inquirer
July 9, 2006

Times' bashers are reckless and wrong

Sometimes lies should be called what they are.

"Since publishing a highly controversial story about a secret U.S. program that monitors financial transactions as a tool to fight terrorism, New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller... has admitted that the liberal press is not 'neutral' in this war on terror.

"Indeed, the track record proves the New York Times and Bill Keller are not 'neutral' but grossly biased against the U.S.-led war against terrorism."

So fulminated conservative propagandist Brent Bozell of the Media Research Center last week. His statement was part of an anti-Times frenzy whipped up by Republican strategists, then echoed ad nauseam by Pavlovian talk shows and blogs.

For these folks, bashing the Times (and journalists generally) is a hobby.

This time, though, the rhetoric has ratcheted up beyond reason: accusing Keller of a heinous crime, treason. One talk-show host talked of sending the editor to the gas chamber.

What's amazing about Bozell's statement is that he sent it to hundreds of journalists' in-boxes, even though it is so blatantly false.

Also see:

L. Brent Bozell

Media Research Center

Read the story >

July 7, 2006
Justin Raimondo

David Horowitz: It�s All About Him

Inspired, perhaps, by the recent prominence of North Korea in the news, over in the Land of the Neocons David Horowitz is doing his Kim il-Sung imitation. His �Center for the Study of Popular Culture� has been renamed: it is now the �David Horowitz Freedom Center.�

Also see:

David Horowitz

Center for the Study of Popular Culture

Read the story >

July 7, 2006
Rob Boston

The Top 10 Power Brokers of the Religious Right

Who they are, what they want, and why these American ayatollahs must be stopped.

The United States is home to dozens of Religious Right groups. Many have small budgets and focus on state and local issues; the most powerful organizations conduct nationwide operations, command multi-million-dollar bank accounts and attract millions of followers. They have disproportionate clout in the halls of Congress, the White House and the courts, and they wield enormous influence within the political system.

What follows is a list of the nation�s Top Ten Religious Right groups, as determined by publicly available financial data and political prominence. Additional information describes the organizations� leaders, funding and activities.

1. Christian Broadcasting Network
2. Focus on the Family
3. Coral Ridge Ministries
4. Alliance Defense Fund
6. American Center for Law and Justice
7. Family Research Council
8. Jerry Falwell Ministries
9. Concerned Women for America
10. Traditional Values Coalition

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Center for American Progress
July 6, 2006
Think Progress

Bush Nominates Anti-Regulatory Zealot To Head �Super-Powerful� Public Safety Office

President Bush is expected to nominate Susan Dudley as the next head of an obscure but �super-powerful office that oversees many business regulations.� The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs holds sway over federal regulatory agencies like the EPA and helps set regulatory policy for a wide range of issues, from workplace safety to water quality.

As the director of regulatory studies at the industry-backed Mercatus Center [Dudley] has worked to oppose vital public health regulation as a �hidden tax� that hinders profits.

Also see:

Mercatus Center

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July 5, 2006
Terry Krepel

The Bush Administration Research Center

As its promotion of a dubious WMDs-in-Iraq claim and its attacks on the New York Times demonstrate, the Media Research Center is much more interested in advancing White House talking points than engaging in media research

The Media Research Center, historically, has been less about media research and more about advancing Republican talking points. Events of the past couple weeks make that clearer than ever.

Also see:

Media Research Center

Media Research Center

Read the story >

June 28, 2006

Ignoring evidence, Bozell claimed the "hardened historical narrative" on Iraq WMDs "needs to be amended"

In his syndicated column, Media Research Center president L. Brent Bozell III claimed that "[t]he hardened historical narrative" on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq "needs to be amended" because of the assertion by Sen. Rick Santorum and Rep. Peter Hoekstra that a recently declassified report found there were WMDs in Iraq prior to the U.S.-led invasion. Bozell ignored conclusive declarations by intelligence officials that the degraded chemical munitions hyped by Santorum and Hoekstra were not, in fact, in the category of "weapons of mass destruction."

Also see:

L. Brent Bozell

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Media Matters
June 30, 2006

Prompted by Scarborough, Stossel attacked Gore with Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity

On MSNBC's Scarborough Country, ABC's John Stossel attacked former Vice President Al Gore and delivered a stream of false and misleading claims on global warming. Noting that Gore "implies the argument" about global warming "is over," Stossel repeatedly attempted to downplay, obscure, or deny the threat posed by human-induced global climate change, as depicted in Gore's documentary film An Inconvenient Truth. In fact, the vast majority of climate scientists agree that global warming is occurring and that human activity is contributing to the problem.

Also see:

John Stossel

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