Climate alarmism in legacy media outlets is getting worse by the year. New data reveals the source: Big Philanthropy.
Climate alarmism, especially at the Associated Press, is being bankrolled by “progressive” philanthropy.
Legacy media companies are taking massive grants, despite assuring the public that they are dedicated to unbiased journalism. The funding is used for a variety of reasons including “excellence” in journalism, which seems rather vague considering the funds come from entities with well-known political agendas.
Other grants are for specific reasons like building out a new area of “special interest” coverage and providing salaries for journalists.
Why are they doing this? In an age where everything that goes against a “progressive” agenda is labeled as racism, misinformation, disinformation, or a litany of other new “buzzwords,” one reason is clear: Narrative control.
The Associated Press Welcomed Millions for Climate Reporting
In February 2022, the Associated Press accepted a grant for $8 million across three years from five groups to “transform” climate reporting, in part by hiring 20 new journalists.
The five organizations, including the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Rockefeller Foundation, Quadrivium, and the Walton Family Foundation, are all known for pushing left-wing policies, funding activist groups, or even bankrolling Democratic campaigns.
The Hughes Medical Institute claims to be a philanthropy that supports “a vibrant community of researchers, educators, students, and professionals,” but 98 percent of its political donations in 2020 were for Democratic candidates. The group has a history of donating to Democrats, including Joe Biden, Sen. Raphael Warnock (GA), and Sen. John Fetterman (PA).
The Rockefeller Foundation is considered a “major funder of liberal advocacy and public policy efforts,” according to nonprofit watchdog InfluenceWatch. The group has a history of supporting liberal think tanks like the Urban Institute, the New America Foundation, PolicyLink and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
The Rockefeller family earned its fortune in the oil industry more than a century ago. Yet in 2016 the Rockefeller Foundation—which ultimately owes its endowment to Standard Oil—has worked to ban so-called fossil fuels by promoting the false “ExxonKnew” campaign and divested itself from fossil fuel companies in 2016.
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation is one of the biggest funders of eco-activism on the Left. In 2008, it committed a staggering $500 million to set up the ClimateWorks Foundation, a major advocate behind the net-zero carbon economy campaign.
Hewlett also has a history of supporting Planned Parenthood and Bill Kristol’s NeverTrump group, Defending Democracy Together, one of the many “conservative Infiltrators” it funds. Hewlett is also a major bankroller of the Eco-Right: Right-leaning groups that support the Left’s position on global warming.
Quadrivium, founded by James Murdoch (son of billionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch), donated $20 million to Biden’s election campaign and other “progressive” groups in 2020. The group lists climate change as a top priority.
The Walton Family Foundation actively donates to numerous environmental groups, including the World Wildlife Fund, Environmental Defense Fund, Meridian Institute, and the Natural Resources Defense Council. The chair of the Walton Family Foundation, Lukas Walton, owns a major stake in First Solar, a company that manufactures solar panels. Is that a conflict of interest? Perhaps.
None of these funders is right-leaning, nor are any skeptical about catastrophic manmade climate change. It’s hard to imagine they gave the Associated Press $8 million to promote unbiased climate reporting that presents both sides of the debate.
AP insists it will retain “all editorial control” over future climate content. But the public should also consider the threat that poses to a free and independent press—what’s stopping these mega-funders from threatening to withhold future funding should AP (or other outlets) promote a less extreme vision of the climate?
In fact, we can already see the direction this beefed-up “reporting” is headed.
Climate Buzzwords Ballooned in the Aftermath
In February 2023, conservative media watchdog Media Research Center released a one-year study on AP’s climate reporting which revealed that the news giant had used over 500 “environmental extremism” buzzwords since taking the grant.
“The term ‘Climate Change’ itself appeared a whopping 212 times. ‘Warming’ and ‘Global Warming’ appeared 140 times collectively. ‘Extreme(s)’ emerged 32 times and ‘Disaster(s)’ and ‘Climate Disaster’ appeared a collective 30 times,” MRC Business wrote in the study.
The term “climate change” also spiked in February 2022, according to data from Google Trends. From 2004 to January 2022, climate change remained at a low level of relevancy, but immediately spiked in February 2022.
The beginning of the spike coincides with the announcement that AP would accept the grant, and “climate change” reached its peak two month later in April.
What Does AP’s “Climate Reporting” Look Like?
Following the influx of millions of dollars, the Associated Press released numerous articles without an opposing opinion.
In June 2023, the Associated Press released an article titled “June temperatures briefly passed key climate threshold. Scientists expect more such spikes.”
The article discusses research completed by the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service, which announced that global surface air temperatures rose above 1.5 degrees Celsius in June. The increase surpassed the threshold set at the Paris Summit in 2015.
Throughout the article, no other viewpoints are expressed other than the idea that the increase in temperature implies the earth is constantly moving toward “major risks for humanity,” “climate instability,” and “ecosystem system losses.”
Another article, also released in June 2023, is titled “Himalayan Glaciers Could Lose 80% Of Their Volume If Global Warming Isn’t Controlled, Study Finds.”
The article describes how glaciers are melting at unprecedented rates because of greenhouse gas emissions, and points to the negative effects local residents are experiencing. The article features comments from the author of the study and other “climate change” scientists.
The article fails to mention any opposing expert opinions.
The Associated Press is releasing “climate alarmism” articles that rigidly align with the political agendas of their donors, but it also appears they are running PR for a private company that is majority owned by Lukas Walton, the chair of the Walton Family Foundation, one of the donor groups.
The company, First Solar, is a “leading American solar technology company” that provide solar modules to fight climate change.
Before February of 2022, when the $8 million grant was accepted, First Solar had only appeared in two AP articles. Following the deal, the company has now been featured in nine AP Articles.
Most of the articles focus on quarterly earnings and stock prices, but one of the articles announces First Solar’s decision to build a $1 billion factory in Alabama. One thing’s clear: First Solar earned favorable PR when Walton agreed to join the coalition of climate donors.
Other Donations to AP from the Left
The $8 million donation from the collective of “progressive” groups is one of the largest donations to the Associated Press, but other groups fund the legacy media group.
In 2020, the Knight Foundation—a major funder of left-leaning media projects—donated $400,000 to the Associated Press for “journalism excellence in the digital age.”
In 2016, the group partnered with Pierre Omidyar’s Democracy Fund, the Gates Foundation, and the MacArthur Foundation to launch NewsMatch. In 2018 NewsMatch provided $7.6 million in matching grants to 154 news organizations totaling $15.8 million.
Donations from the Knight foundation to the Associated Press have taken place yearly since 2011.
Influencing the News
The Associated Press’s decision to accept an $8 million grant for climate reporting from “progressive” groups that advocate for climate change is one of the more blatant examples of special interest funding, but there are many other ways to buy the news.
Many billionaires have bought stakes in media companies and lawmakers donate to or support journalism programs. In 2013, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post for $250 million. Billionaire Michael Bloomberg, a large advocate for gun control, is the majority owner, founder, and CEO of Bloomberg News.
Microsoft founder and billionaire Bill Gates, who in recent years has been cited as an expert by the media on numerous topics, has spent $319 million in donations to media outlets. The largest donations were to NPR, which received $25 million; the Guardian, which received $13 million; Cascade Public Media, which received $11 million; and Public Radio International which received nearly $8 million.
In September 2022, Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom pledged $25 million from the California state budget to the University of California, Berkeley Journalism department. The fellowship program will award up to 40 fellows per year a $50,000 annual stipend for at least three years starting in 2023.
“Gee, I wonder whom Berkeley Journalists are gonna bust their asses to keep happy. This is utter lunacy and arguably against the First Amendment–privileging media with Government revenues over others lacking such support,” former New York Republican congresswoman Nan Hayworth said about the decision.
“Gavin, California, and Berkeley collaborating on journalism with our tax dollars, how Pravdaesque,” one twitter user wrote after hearing the news.
Who Trusts the News?
As special interest funding continues to swirl in the news cycle, many people are starting to lose faith in ethical journalism.
In a 2022 Gallup poll, merely 14 percent of poll respondents that identified as Republican said they trusted the news. For independents, only 27 percent said they trusted the news. Even 70 percent of Democratic respondents said that they did trust the news.
Overall, only 34 percent of all respondents said that they did trust news outlets. That’s a significant drop considering the national average for trust in the news remained around 42 percent since 2004, according to Gallup.
A Continued Trend
Special interest groups will continue to fund the news they want to see as long as no one cares. The Associated Press bragged about the $8 million grant they received. When people were concerned, they swore that the donors would not have any influence. How do we know that is true? Well, we do not.
Based on the increase in buzzwords used after the donation, it is safe to say that some of the donors’ political agenda was accomplished, but there is more to learn over the next two years of the grant.
Controlling the media is a powerful tool and it is no surprise that billionaires, politicians, and nonprofits want a taste, but where is the line? Will the news cycle ultimately turn into special interest propaganda? If you ask some, it already is.