For veteran PBS correspondent Bill Moyers, it seems that merely reporting the news and commenting on it will never be enough. While his employers at the taxpayer-funded Public Broadcasting System look the other way, Moyers continues to use his position as the president of the multi-million dollar Florence and John Schumann Foundation to fund leftist groups that have made headlines around the nation. This time, the tax-exempt foundations he oversees are helping anti-war protest groups organize, advertise and get their message out.
In December, the Florence Fund, a subsidiary of the Florence and John Schumann Foundation run by Moyers’ son John Moyers, teamed up with the Win Without War coalition to run a full-page ad in the New York Times opposite the editorial page. The Dec. 15 anti-war ad entitled “Artists Say Win Without War” was signed by over 100 Hollywood artists including Martin Sheen, Jeananne Garafalo, Mike Farrell and Susan Sarandon and made headlines across the nation. But Moyers and company didn’t stop there.
A coupon at the bottom of the ad had a box donors could check that read “YES! I want to help stop the rush to war with Iraq.” It directed donors to make their checks payable to TomPaine.com c/o The Florence Fund/Iraq and mail them to the post office box address used by The Florence Fund. TomPaine.com is a leftist online magazine funded by the Florence Fund.
Brian Albert, The Florence Fund’s Chief Operating Officer, told FrontPageMag.com the ad raised $10,830 in contributions and that John Moyers had requested that there be an assurance in writing that the groups the money went to would spend it on “more ads on the war or more related anti-war activities.”
Fenton Communications Account Coordinator Brendan McCarthy, the press contact for Moveon.org, a member of the Win Without War coalition, said the money the ad raised was used to help pay the cost of running it and to organize the Artists United to Win Without War coalition. “You know, to get everything together for them – press stuff, meetings, organizing people and outreach to potential members,” McCarthy said.
Fenton Communications, it’s worth noting, has a long history of helping movements and regimes with communist and Marxist leanings. In 1986, the communist-led government of Angola’s Bureau of Information and Propaganda hired the company’s owner, David Fenton, to besmirch the image of the right-wing rebels the regime had been battling for years. Fenton has also worked extensively with both the Florence Fund and the Schumann Foundation in the past.
Had they any shame, the above would cause no small amount of embarrassment to the folks at PBS. But apparently, propping up leftist movements in your spare time is an acceptable journalistic practice at the network. So is parading their leaders before their television audience. Perhaps it was merely coincidence that in October, two months before Win Without War’s official campaign kick-off, National Council of Churches General Secretary Bob Edgar, the co-chair of Win Without War, was interviewed on Moyer’s show NOW, along with Michael Orange of the group Veterans for Peace, a coalition member of Win Without War. Or perhaps all a leftist in good standing has to do to get funding for his organization is to appear on Moyers’ show. Either way, Moyers is awfully cozy with the folks he covers.
Too cozy, in fact, for a guy known of late for launching into on-the-air tirades about the bias of just about every other news network but his. (Except Al-Jazeera, of course, which Moyers recommended as a source of news for those who really want to know what’s going on with the war in a recent Salon.com interview.)
“Fox News has become the cheerleader for the government,” Moyers whined on the April 4 edition of NOW. “The powerful corporations that own most of our newspapers, TV and radio want even more power over what you see, read, and hear. But the last person they want to know what they are up to is you. “
The same could be said of Moyers and his entire non-profit organization. Moyers meant what he said when he encouraged the readers of Salon.com to create their own news “kaleidoscope” by turning to the Internet and the alternative press to find out what’s really going on with the war in Iraq. City Pages reported last February that The Florence and John Schumann Foundation had awarded a $25,000 grant to an alternative news website called Cursor.org to help pay for web hosting and raise additional funds.
For the past six months, Cursor.org has joined Moyers in encouraging people to turn away from mainstream media coverage of the war to get “real” information. The Cursor.org site, which features a graphic of Iraqis kicking and yelling at a wounded American soldier, clearly deems “real information” as that available from the largely Islamic news sources it prominently promotes on its website’s homepage.
Moyers and the site’s editors apparently share a mutual affinity for Al-Jazeera, which is tame compared to the other sources cited by the author of the prominently featured article “When ‘Precision’ Bombing Really Isn’t,” on the Cursor.org website.
Among those “sources” was Middle East Online, which last week ran a story glorifying Iraqi soldiers killed in suicide attacks against British troops. “He was a good man. He died defending his country,” one man was quoted as saying of one of the dead Iraqis. “It breaks my heart,” another woman said.
A singular theme dominated Islam Online.net, Middle East Online and Cursor.org last week: the “atrocities” and “war crimes” committed by U.S. troops. It was a theme the sites also shared in common with the Institute of Public Accuracy (IPA), which got its start with a grant and ongoing funding from the Florence and John Schumann Foundation.
Over the last few months, the IPA’s press office has been used as an anti-war media machine, promoting the leaders of the 32 groups in the Win Without War Coalition and the dozens other groups that make up the so-called peace movement as “sources” in thousands of emails and faxes sent to editors, producers and reporters all over the country.
It’s impossible to tell at this point exactly how knee deep the non-profits Moyers oversees are in the anti-war movement because they aren’t required to disclose what other anti-war groups they’ve given money to until the IRS makes public a copy of their tax forms from 2002, which isn’t likely to happen for several months, if not longer.
But one thing is certain. When it comes to overt bias, Moyers stands alone among his colleagues in both the conservative and liberal media as the only television host we know of who reports the news and provides the funding to help create it.