Sore About Soros
The ConWeb wasn't this upset the last time a billionaire tried to get rid of a president -- but then, they were on the receiving end of that billionaire's money.
By Terry Krepel
Among the pantheon of ConWeb bogeymen for the 2004 presidential election, right up there with John Kerry himself, was George Soros, the billionaire who pumped millions into various efforts to oust President Bush. As much invective as was hurled at the man, you'd think the ConWeb was opposed to all billionaires playing such a major role in opposing a president.
And, of course, you'd be wrong.
The ConWeb has been a favored beneficiary of one Richard Mellon Scaife, another billionaire famous for spending tens of millions to try and get rid of a president. But that president was Bill Clinton, and the ConWeb never seemed bothered by that at all. In fact, Scaife's actions were praised and even defended.
Then again, one could say that they were paid to do so -- Scaife has pumped millions into the ConWeb.
Let's take a look at ConWeb's Scaife-cash (and anti-Soros) connections.
Soros criticism: NewsMax has called Soros a "meddling moneybags," and "extreme misanthrope," "Soros Loserman" and the head of "Hate Inc." -- all in the same article. It dedicated a major portion of one issue of its magazine to a factually flawed attack on Soros by Richard Poe (last seen around these parts spinning conspiracy theories about the Clintons and refusing to engage in civil debate with ConWebWatch). Another NewsMax article (by ConWeb lackey Jon Dougherty) dutifully reported that Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly has called Soros a "left-wing loony," a "crusading atheist," a "dogmatic globalist" and, finally, a "madman."
Scaife money connection: NewsMax founder and CEO Christopher Ruddy worked as a reporter for Scaife's newspaper in Pittsburgh, and Scaife is a financial backer of NewsMax -- the third largest shareholder, as ConWebWatch has documented. The value of Scaife's NewsMax investment is presumably in the millions, especially given that NewsMax did not make any money for at least the first five years of its existence.
Kind words for Scaife: Ruddy has called Scaife, who hired Ruddy to dig up alleged dirt on Vince Foster's suicide for his newspaper in Pittsburgh, "my friend." Ruddy used NewsMax to defend Scaife when he was found to be a major funder of the endowed chair at Pepperdine University that then-independent counsel Kenneth Starr was to accept before a public outcry forced him to decline.
Soros criticism: A December 2003 article reprinted from the Moonie-owned (and now mostly defunct) Insight magazine likened Soros to "a fringe crank such as Ramsey Clark or Lyndon LaRouche"; another Insight article alleged Soros planned to manipulate the stock market to create conditions unfavorable to Bush. Columnist Craige McMillan claimed that "A vote for Soros' Democratic Party is a vote for institutionalized treason" and erroneously alleged that Soros' donations will "go into the Democrats' off-the-books political backroom coffers ... where it is immune from the strict disclosure requirements imposed upon presidential campaigns." (Soros' donations to MoveOn.org and Americans Coming Together are public record.) Columnist Doug Powers suggested Soros should spend his money instead on '[d]uct tape to put over Ted Kennedy's Chivas intake valve." And Joseph Farah weighed in, calling Soros a "lowly, anti-American and anti-Semitic swine" not to mention "power-hungry, nihilistic, arrogant, self-important" and "a self-hating Jew."
Scaife money connection: In 1994-95, Scaife donated $330,000 to the Western Journalism Center, which at the time was headed by Joseph Farah. The money mainly went for research and publicity of anti-Clinton stories being written by Christopher Ruddy. WorldNetDaily started as a project of the Western Journalism Center.
Kind words for Scaife: Even though WorldNetDaily has made a point of saying it has not taken any money from Scaife (a claim impossible to prove since WND and Farah have refused to publicly say who exactly has funded it), Farah has also said: "I'd be happy to accept Scaife's money. There's nothing tainted about it," and praised Scaife for being a "renegade publisher who breaks ranks with the political culture of his industry." And another Insight story compares Soros' political donations unfavorably to Scaife's, who, the article claims, "gave mostly to ballet companies and other cultural institutions in his hometown of Pittsburgh."
Soros criticism: A December 2003 story on conservative criticism of Soros quotes one conservative as saying that Soros "hates God and his biblical principles. He hates everything that's godly"; another calls Soros "determined to turn the world upside down and replace morality with immorality." But CNS' coverage has actually made something of an attempt at fairness: Soros was given a chance to respond (albeit a month later), and CNS reprinted a Soros speech. Still, there are critical articles, like a Nov. 5 commentary by Rich Galen that bash "Soros Democrats" for "using crack cocaine as an inducement to register people with names like Mary Poppins and Pinocchio."
Scaife money connection: CNSNews.com's parent, the Media Research Center, received $952,000 from Scaife-connected foundations between 1997 and 2002.
Kind words for Scaife: A 1999 commentary by the MRC's Brent Bozell attacks the Washington Post for doing a series of stories on Scaife's conservative donations. "[W]hy Scaife and nobody else in the wide world of American philanthropy?" Bozell asked, failing to disclose to his readers Scaife's donations to his organization.
Soros criticism: AIM has been the hardest on Soros; an Oct. 27 report details what it calls "The Hidden Soros Agenda: Drugs, Money, the Media, and Political Power," calling him "a human Halliburton" and trying to perpetuate a smear promulgated by House speaker Dennis Hastert that Soros receives some of his funding from drug cartels. Another AIM article calls Soros a "21st Century Lenin" and attempts to claim that his donations to so-called 527 groups like MoveOn.org, despite the fact that 527 donations are public record, are "mysterious" because "their funders, such as Soros, are under no obligation to identify where their money is coming from." Yet another article calls Soros a "nutty billionaire" at a speech in which a person who interrupted Soros was allegedly "roughed up and led away." Soros' speech was preceded by a press conference accusing Soros of campaign finance law violations held by the National Legal and Policy Center -- the same group claiming "ethics in public life" whose leader, Peter Flaherty, was last seen defending the ethically challenged House majority leader Tom DeLay. (WorldNetDaily and NewsMax also did their own reports on this speech.)
Scaife money connection: AIM has received more than $3.2 million from Scaife-controlled foundations between 1985 and 2002.
Kind words for Scaife: AIM has been almost completely silent about Scaife; one of two mentions in AIM's online database is from a staff weblog entry about the above-mentioned Soros speech, at which a Soros representative interrupted the NLPC press conference and handed out a flyer noting that the NLPC is funded by the "secretive right-wing billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife."