April 15, 2024

The Left’s Plan to Sabotage Talk Radio and Local News

Ownership and management of media matters.

By Ben Johnson

For its nearly universal control over the news-industrial complex, the Left has failed to penetrate the one and only media format dominated by conservatives: talk radio. Despite repeated liberal incursions into the medium, from Mario Cuomo to Tom Daschle to Air America, the Left cannot make a showing. Now, the Left has launched a series of deceptive websites and bought up talk radio outlets — apparently in hopes that, where persuasion failed, cold hard cash may prevail.

Enter George Soros — and his bank account.

“Over the last two years, Soros Fund Management, the firm founded by the billionaire investor and now controlled by the Open Society Foundations, has become an increasingly key player in the oldest electronic mass media: radio,” reported Semafor.com.

Two months ago, the business arm of the Soros empire bought out Audacy, giving it control of more than 230 radio stations and innumerable podcasts. The fund now openly discusses taking over Cumulus Media, which owned and operated 403 radio stations across 85 markets in the United States last year, according to its website.

Soros facilitated the buy-out of 18 Univision radio stations by a consortium of Obama and Clinton known as The Latino Media Network for $60 million, cash. When Vice Media faced bankruptcy in 2019, Soros provided part of the $250 million in debt relief that kept it afloat.

“Soros specifically funneled at least $131,111,250 between 2016 and 2020 into 253 journalism and activist media groups worldwide to spread his radical leftist ideas on abortion, Marxist economics, anti-Americanism, defunding the police, environmental extremism and LGBT fanaticism,” reported the Media Research Center in a three-part exposé. Some $103 million of the $131 million went directly to media outlets, including $2 million to Wikipedia — which, despite its dependably left-leaning bias, poses as an impartial encyclopedia.

Donor-driven deception seems to be a recurring theme for the Soros media takeover, as numerous beneficiaries disguise left-wing political advocacy in the form of “local news” websites.

Among the practitioners of this art is Tara McGowan, a Democratic political operative who worked for the 2012 Obama-Biden reelection campaign and for the 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign’s primary super PAC, Priorities USA Action. (To give you a flavor, a 2012 Priorities USA ad falsely charged Utah Republican Mitt Romney with causing a woman to die of cancer.) After Clinton’s loss to Donald Trump, McGowan got concerned, writing in a 2019 memo that the “Democratic Party, long reliant on television and radio, is losing the media war.” To fill the gap, she created Courier Newsroom, owned by another McGowan organization, Good Information Inc. Courier’s media outlets use apolitical news stories with local content to deliver Democratic diatribes. “The goal was to get persuadable voters engaged with unassuming content, then feed them political persuasion content, using underwriters who would pay Courier to come up with the content,” a former Courier employee revealed.

George Soros is one of those underwriters. So, too, is Planned Parenthood. The nation’s leading abortion franchise gave McGowan’s faux news media empire a quarter of a million dollars in the 2021-2022 fiscal year alone. Yet McGowan did not disclose either contributor, which one investigator noted “cannot be traced through public records until years after the fact.”

Courier also has another revolving door with the Biden administration: McGowan has visited the Biden White House 20 times, according to a review of White House visitor logs carried out by Fox News. (More about them later.) One visit produced an exclusive interview with Biden — but the rest seem to have influenced Courier’s journalism in other ways. McGowan met with Patrick Stevenson, Biden’s senior advisor for digital strategy, raising questions about whether McGowan coordinated its media activities with the administration. (That would be old hat. A 2016 email from Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign manager outlined a strategy of illegal “coordination of some ads with Priorities” USA.)

The Left followed the same blueprint in the 2022 midterm elections. Last time, the misleading media strategy worked through The American Independent, the grotesquely misnamed company then led by Media Matters founder David Brock. The group, now branding itself “TAI News,” hosts “local” websites in the battleground states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, as well as Montana, where incumbent Democratic Senator Jon Tester faces a difficult reelection race. “It’s been widely reported that where local news outlets shut down, dis- and misinformation grows,” said Jessica McCreight, then TAI’s executive editor, in 2022. “To combat this challenge, The American Independent has expanded to bring readers local, fact-based news and information on topics and issues that impact their communities.”

TAI used McGowan’s model of writing local news to sell its political product. For instance, the Pennsylvania Independent’s story “Pennsylvania is home to the world’s mushroom capital” sits alongside headlines slamming alleged GOP “health care cuts” and touting Biden’s “clean energy investments in Pennsylvania farms.” Yet the state websites carry dizzyingly repetitive content for an operation purportedly dedicated to local news. Each site carries the same national news stories, usually as the lead. Very little original local content takes place: As of this writing, the Wisconsin website has the same story, with the same graphic, side-by-side as the lead story in both the Politics and Economy sections.

TAI News also shares McGowan’s troubles with the truth and ties to partisan hacks. TAI’s current president, Joe Conason, wrote a baseless 1992 article claiming that President George H.W. Bush had an affair with longtime aide Jennifer Fitzgerald, and a 2003 book titled “Big Lies: The Right-Wing Propaganda Machine and How It Distorts the Truth.” TAI’s former president, Matt Fuehrmeyer, had been a senior aide at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC).

Ownership and management of media matters. Look at Fox News since Rupert Murdoch stepped back from day-to-day affairs, leaving its direction to his children. As part of its 2022 Pride Month coverage, Fox News Channel carried a news story celebrating a child’s gender transition. Last April, FNC fired its top-rated host, Tucker Carlson, days after he delivered a revival-themed address to The Heritage Foundation. While Fox News still has outstanding hosts and guests, its retreat from social issues mirrors the views of management.

This seeming minutiae impacts citizens’ ability to make a difference for Christ in the public square. Since information fuels and directs action, intelligence is a vital asset of spiritual warfare. The world’s greatest calamity occurred when our first parents acted on erroneous information (Genesis 3:5). On the other hand, God asks rhetorically whether His people know of His power to cast aside kingdoms that violate His laws by asking, “Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning?” (Isaiah 40:21).

The anti-life crowd believes it can hide its venomous viewpoint in objective-looking news sites. If you do not know the bias and ownership of your “local” media site, why not read — and promote — news outlets like this one that share your Christian worldview? We will never sell out to shadowy leftist billionaires. We have already been bought with a price (I Corinthians 7:23).

Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.

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