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Sunday, April 23, 2023
How George Soros funds ‘fact checkers’ to silence dissent
George Soros is the most dangerous man in America. The investor is intent on remaking the country to his liberal image, from our foreign-policy priorities to undermining our criminal-justice system. This week, The Post takes a look at the reach of Soros’ billions. In this fourth essay, Matt Palumbo, author of “The Man Behind the Curtain: Inside the Secret Network of George Soros,” talks about how “fact checking” can shape the narrative.
It’s not enough for George Soros to fund the media and encourage stories that back up his point of view — he has to make sure no one disagrees with it.
Last year, Soros partnered with fellow leftist billionaire Reid Hoffman (the co-founder of LinkedIn) to financially back a project to fight so-called disinformation. The name they chose might have come from George Orwell himself: Good Information Inc.
Branding anything that goes counter-narrative as “disinformation” has become the left’s latest strategy to fight anything that threatens their spin, and Soros has taken note.
Later in the year, heading into the midterms, in an open letter signed by 11 other leftist groups, the Soros-funded Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights called on Big Tech CEOs to take “immediate” action to spread so-called “voting disinformation” to “help prevent the undermining” of democracy. The signatories had received a combined $30.3 million from Soros in just a four-year period.
Soros already has had success across the Atlantic in using fact-checkers to censor narratives damaging to the left.
As the Hungarian publication Remix revealed, of the 11 Facebook-approved fact checking organizations for Central and Eastern Europe, eight were funded by Soros. As is the case for the US, these fact checking groups are largely critical of the political right.
Major fact-checking organizations such as PolitiFact, Snopes, and others have long faced allegations of left-wing political bias — allegations a series of studies over the years have confirmed. One of the more recent studies of bias on PolitiFact found sources six times more likely to defend Biden in their “fact-checks” than check his facts.
Major funding for PolitiFact’s parent company, The Poynter Institute, includes the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Ford Foundation, Soros-backed Tides Foundation and Tides Center, the Carnegie Corp. of New York among many others.
One project of the Poynter Institute specifically, the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN), was launched in 2015 with its initial funding coming from the National Endowment for Democracy (backed by the US State Department), the Omidyar Network, Google, Facebook, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and George Soros’ Open Society Foundations.
The IFCN acts as the “high body” for the dozens of fact-checking organizations under its umbrella, which unite under a shared code of principles, and a mission “to bring together the growing community of fact-checkers around the world and advocates of factual information in the global fight against misinformation.”
Among the most well-known organizations that are affiliated with the IFCN include the Associated Press fact checker, FactCheck.org, The Dispatch fact checker, The Washington Post fact checker and PolitiFact.
The problem, of course, is that these “fact checks” are anything but impartial. Facebook and other social-media companies censored any articles that suggested the COVID-19 virus leaked from a Wuhan lab, based on denials of scientists who had a conflict of interest. Now that even top researchers say the lab leak is a distinct possibility, they’ve lifted those restrictions.
Read all the Post’s coverage on the reach of George Soros’ billions
Hunter Biden’s laptop was censored because intelligence officials said it “could be” Russian disinformation — it wasn’t. Articles questioning the effects of climate change are given warning labels even if they are backed up by data.
As is the case with Soros’ financing of media, in addition to spreading leftist narratives, he buys his own name protection. A simple search for Soros’ name on PolitiFact’s website reveals that they’re unwilling to admit a single damning allegation made against the man — of which there are many.
The extent to which PolitiFact in particular will go to defend Soros, and make sure people see it, is further than for anyone else.
Those who found themselves Googling George Soros’ name in past months may have seen an ad display among the top of the results from PolitiFact, inviting the searcher to learn the “Truth” about Soros, that “George Soros does not pay protesters. Here’s the truth. The real purpose of the ‘paid protester’ myth.”
Anyone who clicked the ad would be brought to a PolitiFact “fact check” of a claim from pundit Candace Owens that Soros is “funding the chaos” in Minneapolis through his Open Society Foundations during the summer of 2020 riots.
As is standard for fact-checkers on politically charged topics, their articles read as if the conclusions were written first, and the arguments second. To generate the image of Soros they want, they simply ignore any true allegations against him and either fact-check tangential claims or false ones.
Emily Venezky predictably rates Owens’ claim “False” while citing a 2015 Snopes fact check that admits Soros donated $33 million to organizations “that have worked with Black Lives Matter or worked to raise awareness during the Ferguson-related protests” in the past. She then tries to hedge that admission when it comes to the then-recent Minneapolis riots with the supposed disclaimer: “However, they had never given money to groups for the express purpose of organizing protests with the movement.”
Was she expecting there to be a line item for rioting in their grants?
Whether or not Soros is funding protesters in the exact manner in the exact city that Candace is stating is irrelevant to the larger point that, yes, Soros is giving money to groups intent on defunding the police.
In a similar vein, PolitiFact’s Yacob Reyes wrote an article to debunk claims that Soros was funding Black Lives Matter — only to admit and downplay his funding of BLM-adjacent groups. Writing in response to Owens saying that Soros “injected $33 million into Black Lives Matter,” Reyes rated the claim “False” because the groups weren’t official BLM groups — but merely radical far-left groups that share virtually an identical ideology to Black Lives Matter (and everything else Soros funds) and engage in the same kind of disruptive activities.
Of the dozens of fact-checks mentioning Soros’ name on PolitiFact’s website, every single one without exception serves to deny what Soros’ multibillion-dollar empire is funding or debunk what amounts to chain email-tier rumors about him.
Every single claim fact-checked (always as “False” or “Pants on Fire”) is someone making a negative claim about Soros that PolitiFact responds to as if they’re his p.r. agent. When it comes to objectively true allegations that have been made about Soros network; such as his funding of rogue prosecutors nationwide, his connections to various media figures, his connections to the Biden White House, and much more, the fact-checkers simply ignore them.
Which is, essentially, the upshot of why Soros and other left-wing groups have weaponized “fact checking” — it allows them to pressure social media to censoring any news they don’t like.