Universities in FCC Newsroom Probe Have Close Ties to Soros, Got $3.7M in Funding

February 21, 2014 - 11:01 PM
Connections include partnerships with Soros foundation on events, projects.

The FCC may have suspended its invasion into American newsrooms, but the controversial "Critical Information Needs" study also has George Soros' fingerprints all over it.

While disturbing, this should come as no surprise since Soros' gave more than $52 million to media organizations from 2000-2010.

Two schools were working with FCC on the project, according to Byron York of The Washington Examiner. The University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Communication and Democracy, were tasked by the FCC with coming up with criteria for what information is "critical" for Americans to have. The FCC study would have covered newspapers, websites, radio and television, according to The Washington Post.

On top of the 1st Amendment problems with this proposal, the schools involved have strong ties to liberal billionaire George Soros' Open Society Foundations and have gotten more than $3.7 million from since 2000.

The journalism programs at these schools have even more ties to Soros besides their funding, including faculty members writing for university-based publications allied with Soros-funded outlets.

The schools have collaborated on this project going back at least to 2012. Lewis A. Friedland, who was a "principle investigator" for the FCC on this project, also directs the Center for Communication and Democracy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He gave a presentation at Annenberg in Feb. 2012, on "communication ecology." This was just four months before the schools presented their findings to the FCC.

Tracking the $8.5 billion Soros-foundation world is challenging because he funds so much and many of those organizations then partner or even fund one another.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison got a whopping $1,672,397 from Soros between 2000 and 2012. The university also offers OSI-sponsored grants, scholarships and fellowships. Friedland also heads Madison Commons, a liberal journalism group "powered by" the university's School of Journalism. Madison Commons, in turn, is a project of the university but supported in part by American University's J-Lab. AU has received $2,110,070 from OSF since 2000.

The University Of Wisconsin School Of Journalism's left-wing tilt has caused controversy before. The school also houses the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism. That center narrowly avoided being banned from the campus when Gov. Scott Walker vetoed legislation that questioned the use of state funds to support a journalism group with a liberal agenda. The center has been a member of the Investigative News Network since 2011. This liberal network of journalism groups got $150,000 from Soros in 2012.

Madison's partner in the project, the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, got $120,000 from Soros' Open Society Foundations in 2012. This is in addition to $75,000 given to the school as a whole in 2005, adding up to $195,000. The school has also partnered with Soros' Open Society Institute on at least two occasions: once when the Open Society Institute funded a week-long conference on "ethnic media" put on by the school, and once when it coordinated a journalism project in South Africa with the help of a grant from the South African branch of the Open Society Foundations, for which we do not have access to tax returns.

Ajit Pai, a Republican FCC commissioner, brought attention to the program in a Feb. 10 opinion piece. He has praised the suspension of the study, saying that "no study by the federal government, now or in the future, should involve asking questions to media owners, news directors, or reporters about their practices."

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified American University in Cairo as the Cairo campus of American University. While the two schools are partnered, they are separate. We have also updated the amount of Soros funding that AU has gotten from being since 2008 to being since 2000.