Columbia Journalism Review Publishes Detailed Expose on Gates Foundation Buys Influence With Journalists

Kudos to the Columbia Journalism Review for putting the muscle behind having Tim Schwab perform an in-depth investigation into how the Gates Foundation has lavished money on various not-for-profit news organizations, like NPR, as well as other media outlets in the US and abroad, to secure favorable, even at times one-sided coverage of its pet initiatives. Another successful leg of the Gates Foundations’ efforts is donating to fact-checkers, which in turn incorrectly brand articles that question Gates Foundation influence-buying or specific programs as inaccurate or conspiracy theories.

Needless to say, this piece is particularly welcome given that Bill Gates is getting undue attention in the press for his views on Covid programs, particularly vaccines, as if medical policy patronage has rendered a software squillionaire particularly qualified to discuss public health. In fact, as Schwab points out:

During the pandemic, news outlets have widely looked to Bill Gates as a public health expert on covid—even though Gates has no medical training and is not a public official. PolitiFact and USA Today (run by the Poynter Institute and Gannett, respectively—both of which have received funds from the Gates Foundation) have even used their fact-checking platforms to defend Gates from “false conspiracy theories” and “misinformation,” like the idea that the foundation has financial investments in companies developing covid vaccines and therapies. In fact, the foundation’s website and most recent tax forms clearly show investments in such companies, including Gilead and CureVac. ….

Writing in De Correspondent, freelance journalists Robert Fortner and Alex Park examined the limitations and inadvertent consequences of the Gates Foundation’s relentless efforts to eradicate polio. In HuffPost, the two journalists showed how Gates’s outsize funding of global health initiatives has steered the world’s aid agenda toward the foundation’s own goals (like polio eradication) and away from issues such as emergency preparedness to respond to disease outbreaks, like the Ebola crisis. (This narrative has been lost in the current covid-19 news cycle, as outlets from the LA Times to PBS to STAT have portrayed Gates as a visionary leader on pandemics.)

I strongly urge you to read Schwab’s devastating account in full. Let me present part of three threads to entice you. The first is on how Gates giving has turned NPR into a foundation mouthpiece:

Last August, NPR profiled a Harvard-led to help low-income families find housing in wealthier neighborhoods, giving their children access to better schools and an opportunity to “break the cycle of poverty.” According to researchers cited in the article, these children could see $183,000 greater earnings over their lifetimes—a striking forecast for a housing program still in its experimental stage.

If you squint as you read the story, you’ll notice that every quoted expert is connected to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which helps fund the project. And if you’re really paying attention, you’ll also see the editor’s note at the end of the story, which reveals that NPR itself receives funding from Gates.

NPR’s funding from Gates “was not a factor in why or how we did the story,” reporter Pam Fessler says, adding that her reporting went beyond the voices quoted in her article. The story, nevertheless, is one of hundreds NPR has reported about the Gates Foundation or the work it funds, including myriad favorable pieces written from the perspective of Gates or its grantees…

Since 2000, the Gates Foundation has given NPR $17.5 million through ten charitable grants—all of them earmarked for coverage of global health and education, specific issues on which Gates works.

NPR covers the Gates Foundation extensively. By the end of 2019, a spokesperson said, NPR had mentioned the foundation more than 560 times in its reporting, including 95 times on Goats and Soda, the outlet’s “global health and development blog,” which Gates helps fund. “Funding from corporate sponsors and philanthropic donors is separate from the editorial decision-making process in NPR’s newsroom,” the spokesperson noted…..

Given Gates’s large funding role at NPR, one could imagine editors insisting that reporters seek out financially independent voices or include sources who can offer critical perspectives. (Many NPR stories on Gates don’t: here, here, here, here, here,here.) Likewise, NPR could seek a measure of independence from Gates by rejecting donations that are earmarked for reporting on Gates’s favored topics.

Mind you, there’s more in this vein.

One initiative that I found particularly alarming was the Gates Foundation throwing its weight behind “solutions journalism”:

If critical reporting about the Gates Foundation is rare, it is largely beside the point in “solutions journalism,” a new-ish brand of reporting that focuses on solutions to problems, not just the problems themselves.

While that might sound anodyne, first, focusing on “solutions” provided a ready platform for billionaires to advance their ideas for how to remake society. Second, it also appears designed to pre-empt or at least weaken efforts to have government intervene, either via social programs or law against damaging conduct. Fundamental social change is usually driven by grievances. The press often plays an important role by showing those injustices to be common. That legitimates the sense of harm felt by the victims, which encourages them to take action, and also helps them win support form other groups. By contrast, “solutions” come from… developers….and incrementalists like NGOs.

In fact, “solutions journalism” is awfully reminiscent of the highly successful campaign to remake jurisprudence along neoliberal lines. From ECONNED:

The third avenue for promoting and institutionalizing the “free market” ideology was inculcating judges. It was one of the most far-reaching actions the radical right wing could take. Precedents are powerful, and the bench turns over slowly. Success here would make the “free markets” revolution difficult to reverse…

It is hard to overstate the change this campaign produced, namely, a major
shift in jurisprudence. As Steven Teles of the University of Maryland noted:

In the beginning, the law and economics (with the partial exception of its application to antitrust) was so far out of the legal academic mainstream as to be reasonably characterized as “off the wall.” . . . Moving law and economics’ status from “off the wall” to “controversial but respectable” required a combination of celebrity and organizational entrepreneurship. . . . [Henry] Mannes’ programs for federal judges helped erase law and economics’ stigma, since if judges— the symbol of legal professional respectability—took the ideas seriously, they could not be crazy and irresponsible.62

Now why was law and economics vantage seen as “off the wall?” Previously, as noted above, economic thinking had been limited to antitrust, which inherently involves economic concepts (various ways to measure the power of large companies in a market). So extending economic concepts further was at least novel, and novel could be tantamount to “off the wall” in some circles. But with hindsight, equally strong words like “radical,” “activist,” and “revolutionary” would apply.

Why? The law and economics promoters sought to colonize legal minds. And, to a large extent they succeeded. For centuries (literally), jurisprudence had been a multifaceted subject aimed at ordering human affairs. The law and economics advocates wanted none of that. They wanted their narrow construct to play as prominent a role as possible.

For instance, a notion that predates the legal practice is equity, that is, fairness. The law in its various forms including legislative, constitutional, private (i.e., contract), judicial, and administrative, is supposed to operate within broad, inherited concepts of equity. Another fundamental premise is the importance of “due process,” meaning adherence to procedures set by the state. By contrast, the “free markets” ideology focuses on efficiency and seeks aggressively to minimize the role of government. The two sets of assumptions are diametrically opposed.

Now why is it reasonable to be concerned that “solutions journalism” could lead to the already pretty captured journalism profession to become even more friendly to powerful interests?

The premise of traditional “fair and balanced” reporting is that there are two sides to a story. Someone is accused of a crime. A reporter is expected to seek out the defendant for comment. Similarly, a business or government tries to promote a new program. In the World According to Journalism School, the press is supposed to do more than just run the press release; they should contact parties that would be affected by it and see if any will comment.

By contrast, “solutions journalism,” at least as practiced by the Gates Foundation, looks like an avenue for influence peddling. From Schwab:

That more upbeat orientation has drawn the patronage of the Gates Foundation, which directed $6.3 million to the Solutions Journalism Network (SJN) to train journalists and fund reporting projects. Gates is the largest donor to SJN—supplying around one-fifth of the organization’s lifetime funding. SJN says more than half of this money has been distributed as subgrants….

SJN acknowledges on its website “that there are potential conflicts of interest inherent” in taking philanthropic funding to produce solutions journalism, which SJN cofounder David Bornstein elaborated on in an interview….Asked if he could provide examples of any critical reporting about Gates emerging from SJN, Bornstein took issue with the question. “Most of the stories that we fund are stories that look at efforts to solve problems, so they tend to be not as critical as traditional journalism,” he said.

That is also the case for the journalism Bornstein and fellow SJN cofounder Tina Rosenberg produce for the New York Times. As contract writers for the “Fixes” opinion column, the two have favorably profiled Gates-funded education, agriculture, and global health programs over the years—without disclosing that they work for an organization that receives millions of dollars from Gates. Twice in 2019, for example, Rosenberg’s columns exalted the World Mosquito Project, whose sponsor page lands on a picture of Bill Gates…

My cursory review of the Fixes column turned up fifteen installments where the writers explicitly mention Bill and Melinda Gates, their foundation, or Gates-funded organizations. Bornstein and Rosenberg said they asked their editors at the Times to belatedly add financial disclosures to several of these columns, but they also cited six they thought did not need disclosure. Rosenberg’s 2016 profile of Bridge International Academies, for example, notes that Bill Gates personally helps fund the project. The writers argue that SJN’s ties are to the Gates Foundation, not to Bill Gates himself, so no disclosure is needed.

I’ve already quoted a bit too liberally from this important article, so please delay no further and read it in full, since it covers other important topics, like the subversion of fact-checkers. But even with Schwab’s digging, there’s even more that the Gates Foundation does to influence the press, such as entering into contracts, which remains almost entirely hidden.

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  1. Thuto

    A good friend of mine, a Phd medical anthropologist, works for one of the public health research agencies here in South Africa. He tells me they’re not doing much “research” these days, instead they’re implementing the “findings” of research done by an American company linked to the Gates Foundation (I forget the name and I tried to reach him now to share it again but couldn’t get him on the phone), to whom a lot of the research work that used to be the domain of state agencies is being outsourced. A lot of the time they don’t even agree with said findings but are nudged (read coerced) to rubberstamp them by the higher ups who coddle up to whomever the latest American subject matter “expert” parachuted in happens to be.

    He also tells me this is the case across much of Africa, where most health ministers are shadowed by Gates Foundation surrogates, resulting in public health policy in many countries skewed in favour of even more integration with the GF agenda.

  2. Steven B Kurtz

    The “GF agenda” is remarkably positive on women’s empowerment, family planning, and education of children. These areas are extremely important in attempting to slow population growth globally. We are already using over 1.7 times the natural productivity of a finite planet according to:

    I admire Melinda and Bill for working on human overshoot despite their Catholic Church dictates. If anyone thinks that they seek more money and use the foundation as a tool for that, I ask for conclusive evidence for that claim. Note that Warren Buffett has given control of most of his charitable management to them. He is not a radical progressive!

    1. Thuto

      I suppose this includes taking over government health policy across much of Africa while marginalizing local experts and hollowing out research capabilities within public health agencies while their at it? I’m not sure what Warren Buffett handing over the management of his charitable foundation to them is supposed to prove, that he’s enamoured of their benevolence?

    2. Reality Bites

      One of the more troubling things I find in the NC comments is that this old canard about human population comes up and people suggest “conversations” or something or other about ways to reduce the human population.

      There is nothing positive about this. The main problem is that a subset of the population uses a disproportionate amount of the world’s resources. It is not subsaharan Africa or India. Most people in these places have a very small effect on the causes of climate change. Nonetheless, most of the family planning and cries of overpopulation center on poor black and brown people in the Asia and Africa. We could have a far bigger impact on climate change by cutting emissions, significantly reduces use of plastics and fossil fuels.

      Claiming the issue is overpopulation neatly forces the answer of population reduction. It focuses on policing and harassing the poor while avoiding discussions that lead back to a small group of wealthy exploiters.

      1. judy2shoes

        Thanks for this comment. This is how I see it, too. The Grayzone recently posted an article about the out-sized impact of the Gates Foundation on global health policy:

        “The tidal wave of mainstream media praise for Gates during the Covid-19 era has meant that scrutiny of the billionaire and his machinations is increasingly prevalent on the far–right of the political spectrum, where it can be dismissed by progressives as the conspiratorial ravings of Trumpists and Q-Anon quacks.

        “But beyond the public relations bonanza about Gates lies a disturbing history that should raise concerns about whether his foundation’s plans for resolving the pandemic will benefit the global public as much as it expands and entrenches its power over international institutions.

        “The Gates Foundation has already effectively privatized the international body charged with creating health policy, transforming it into a vehicle for corporate dominance. It has facilitated the dumping of toxic products onto the people of the Global South, and even used the world’s poor as guinea pigs for drug experiments.” (Emphasis mine)

        Apologies if this has been posted before.

        1. JEHR

          Thank you for the link which expands upon the article. Once an ordinary human being gets power (via becoming a billionaire), he also becomes dangerous. Therefore, so much power held by one person is not a good thing. There are so many horrendous results of inequality and this is one of the worst; i.e., what Bill Gates has done in the world of health and pharma. Well worth reading.

          1. judy2shoes

            I’m glad you found the article worthwhile. It was a difficult and painful one for me to read. I keep sending articles like this to my oligarch-loving democrat friends and family, but they view them as right-wing conspiracy theory nonsense (as one of the articles noted).

        2. Kitty

          It is really envy and Sanders’ informed populism. If you do not do what I want when I want it and the way I want it – you are 100% wrong.

          Just another ill-informed populist Berner

      2. Jeremy Grimm

        World resources are not ‘shared well’ and never have been. Such family planning as there is does tend to focus its limited efforts — mostly expressions of concern — on poor black and brown people in Asia and Africa. That’s hardly remarkable when you consider those are the populations growing the fastest and supported by dwindling resources for water and food. Besides they are far away and make for good imagery to use in funding solicitations.

        Overpopulation, particularly overpopulation by poor black and brown people in Asia and Africa is no canard. Those populations will suffer the most as the Climate Chaos increases. This is not to say there is no problem of overpopulation among the less poor, less black and brown populations in the rest of the world. Overpopulation is when there isn’t enough water, or enough food, or housing for that population. Shut down the electric power running one of our large cities for a couple of months and shut down the transport of water or food into that large city and there will be overpopulation. Of course it might do well to mention that “overpopulation neatly forces the answer of population reduction” — indeed that answer seems like something of a tautology given the way I defined overpopulation above.

        We could have a far bigger impact on climate change by cutting emissions, significantly reducing use of plastics and fossil fuels. I am not sure ‘we’ are still in a position to significantly reduce the use of plastics and fossil fuels. True we are the world’s ‘bad boys’ but China and other economies in Asia appear to have inherited the power to make the choices necessary to significantly reduce the use of plastics and fossil fuels.

        Your suggestion that the best way to cut emissions is to reduce the use of fossil fuels is simplistic — the use of fossil fuels is what generates the emissions you want to reduce. How do you propose reducing the use of fossil fuels?

        Your observation of “those claiming ‘the’ issue is overpopulation” — suggests to me a very common and very troubling tendency I notice in much of the discussion of our progress toward Collapse. Humankind is faced with not one but many threats to its future, any one of which might suffice to bring eventual collapse. But choosing one threat as ‘the’ threat is a dangerous way to ignore that the threats we face act in concert and in concert drag us much more quickly to the edge. Humankind needs a concert of parallel actions to avoid or at least mitigate the coming Collapse.

        The search for a single issue, single root problem to deal with first affects my thinking. It were as if I can only deal with a problem as a serial sequence of steps toward a solution identifying and dealing with one problem at a time. I am most troubled by the realization that the Populace at this juncture lacks agency, will, and wisdom for doing anything about the threats facing Humankind. The entities that do possess that agency have no intent to deal with the problem — except as a means to other ends.

      3. Steven B Kurtz

        Most Asian and African Countries have been trying to reduce birth rates for over two decades. They have asked for aid, and been largely refused by wealthy governments. A few NGOs have been helping. See this quote from a 2000 paper presented to The World Congress of the System Sciences, Toronto, 2000, and reprinted here:

        In 1989, as verified by The UN Population Fund, the following countries signed
        a statement urging early stabilization of human population. Austria,
        Bangladesh, Barbados, Bhutan, Botswana, Cape Verde, China, Columbia, Cyprus,
        Dominica, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Fiji, Grenada, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti,
        Iceland, India, Indonesia, Jamaica, Japan, Jordon, Kenya, Rep. of Korea,
        Liberia, Malta, Mauritius, Morocco, Nepal, Nigeria, Panama, Philippines,
        Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Singapore, Sri Lanka, St. Kitts-Nevis, St. Lucia,
        St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Sudan, Thailand, Tunisia, Vanuatu, and Zimbabwe.
        Note the absence of most wealthy nations. It is ridiculous to claim that the
        rich are trying to coerce the poor nations to reduce population. In fact, they
        are not responding to the affirmed needs of the poor.

        The following countries are part of either the South Commission or Partners in
        Population and Development: Zimbabwe, Kenya, Mexico, Colombia, Thailand,
        Indonesia, Bangladesh, Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia, China, India, Pakistan,
        Uganda, Algeria, Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Guyana, Ivory Ciast, Jamaica,
        Kuwait, Malaysia, Mozambique, Nigeria, Philippines, Senegal, Sri Lanka,
        Uruguay, Venezuela, Yugoslavia (former), and Western Samoa. The “Partners”
        share expertise with each other in reproductive health, appropriate
        technologies, and population policy. The Challenge to the South: Report of the
        South Commission, included this unequivocal statement:

        ” In the long run the problem of overpopulation of the countries of the South
        can be fully resolved only through their development. But action to contain
        the rise of population cannot be postponed.” (Nyerere, 1990)

        The blame game solves nothing. Each human, no matter how simply she lives, displaces habitat for other life forms except human parasites. Techno-optimism is failing to reverse habitat destruction, toxification, and biodiversity loss.

        Lastly, the billions who are poor seek to increase their material well being, and rightly so. They are INvoluntarily simplistic. Voluntary simplicity requires one to be quite well off, and only a tiny % of those volunteer! It’s in the genes of all life to increase energy throughput. See:

        1. bob

          “It’s in the genes of all life to increase energy throughput”

          “They are INvoluntarily simplistic”

          Just bite the bullet and call it Eugenics already! You really should start you replies with that so everyone here can dismiss you before you post your performative laundry list of citations that don’t have anything to do with the issue being discussed.

        2. Jeremy Grimm

          — Little to nothing has been done to provide family planning help to the nations where population growth is or threatens to become overpopulation.
          — “In the long run the problem of overpopulation of the countries of the South can be fully resolved only through their development.”
          I agree with your first point. Your second point repeats an unfortunate effort to mix economic justice in with working the problem of pending collapse. There are plenty of problems without adding one more. Poor countries cannot waste energy and resources at the same levels as people in the US and to a lesser degree Europe — too much has already been wasted. We are past justice — recompense has already gone up in smoke. We need to worry about the survival and well-being of the many and apply equity within the present limits on resources.

          Overpopulation isn’t a blame game. It is one among many problems facing the world and threatening to hasten collapse. It will also be a source of great misery and conflict through the collapse.
          Your last point makes no sense in relation to the link you provided and neither have much to do with overpopulation.

        3. Nick Alcock

          “It’s in the genes of all life to increase energy throughput.”

          Though this is tangential to your metaphorical point, that’s not what the maximum power principle says at all. The maximum power principle says that systems maximize the flow of useful energy. That’s not the same as maximizing the flow of energy: instead, it says that if you tried to increase the energy throughput of some system beyond the value it normally has, you would find it detrimental to do so. (After all, if it wasn’t detrimental, evolution would probably already have done it.)

          In practice this principle mostly applies on the scale of entire ecosystems, not organisms, where there are two major constraints.

          Firstly, energy production is very tightly regulated because literally all organisms use an electron transport chain to convert a flow of electrons into a proton gradient, and then use that proton gradient to power ATPase to recycle ADP back into ATP again. This is very dangerous! If the chain gets clogged for whatever reason (e.g. in organisms that use oxygen, due to a local oxygen shortage, since oxygen is the electron acceptor at the end of the chain), electrons in the middle of the chain have enough time to wander off and react with the machinery of the chain itself, spitting off horrible corrosive oxygen radicals etc. This usually triggers immediate programmed cell death (by design: the alternative is lots of nice mutations and likely cancer).

          Secondly, because more or less all energy production (other than the rare and inefficient pathway which is fermentation) takes place across a membrane, producing large amounts of energy depends on having a lot of membrane surface area, which unless you do something very clever means you have to be as small as possible. This essentially prohibits bacteria from growing into large or individually complex entities, and overcoming this is *really really hard*, even though if they could overcome it they’d be able to transduce orders of magnitude more energy than they otherwise could. This appears to have been done precisely once in the history of life on earth (the innovation that gave us mitochondria), and it took probably a billion years or so to do it.

    3. Stan

      After seeing Bill Gates display so much competence at selling a crappy, Stasi infected OS, I’m relieved to see Bill and Melinda’s core competencies are stretching out into more important endeavors, such as buying the rights to decide who dies. What could possibly go wrong?

    4. bob

      “Note that Warren Buffett has given control of most of his charitable management to them. He is not a radical progressive!”

      No, he’s not. He’s also worth 3 times what he was worth when he started to “give away” his money. The foundation keeps growing too. Bill and he are on the same page. Bill is worth a lot more now that he’s giving it all away.

      How long can they keep conning you?

  3. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you, Yves.

    It’s the same with Gates in the UK, especially with regard to the BBC and Grauniad.

    Much of the UK’s aid budget is handed over to the Gates foundation to be managed according to a mandate or, increasingly, as the foundation sees fit. There’s no audit of what the foundation does with UK taxpayer money.

    A friend and former colleague worked with the Gates Foundation on UK government funded projects in Africa for a few years. The foundation staff are there to skewer matters towards their employer’s agenda.

    The Clinton and Omidyar foundations are on the act now. The latter, using its Illuminate arm, is used for political interference.

  4. Carolinian

    Great that CJR is going after NPR although the info that NPR and PBS are highly influenced by their funders is not exactly a shocker. There’s the precedent of Joan Kroc–widow of the McDonald’s founder–giving a large sum to NPR after which it took a decided turn to the neoliberal. In the long view you can blame it on Reagan and the Republicans who substantially cut the government funding for these “public” media. So in that sense the Gates story represents everything going according to plan.

    However some of us would contend that it would be far more useful for the CJR to take on hometown institution The New York Times and that seems unlikely give the Columbia Journalism School’s own ties to the Times. It seems everybody in the MSM world has some conflict which is why we should take all such journalism with a huge dose of skepticism. Cronkite said that all journalism has to sell is its own credibility and the Times and Wapo have trashed theirs with their Russiagate deceptions not to mention the Iraq war reporting and all the rest. They are surely a far worse influence on NPR than Bill Gates.

  5. Michael Fiorillo

    Public schools and their teachers, long attacked by arrogant Gates Foundation know-nothings and supplicant reporter/stenographers, have been warning about this, and largely been ignored, for years.

  6. Matthew Saroff

    I would note that the actions of the Gates Foundation with regard to the media and not for profits sounds almost identical to the way that Michael Bloomberg bought the local media coverage and not for profits adulation in his successful bid to be mayor of New York.

  7. Kris Alman

    As the expression goes, “History is written by the victors.” Will there even be “victors” of our 21st Century Wars to record history?

    The 24/7 news cycle is a war between billionaires (Gates, Bezos, Bloomberg, Murdoch) and Alex Jones and his wannabes.

    Gates’ halo is undeserved. He set the stage for philanthrocapitalism in goading his fellow billionaires to shore up their wealth in “charity.” In this recent Institute for Policy Studies publication, “Gilded Giving 2020: How Wealth Inequality Distorts Philanthropy and Imperils Democracy,” we learn:

    The 100 living U.S. Pledgers who were billionaires on March 18, 2020 had a combined wealth of $758.3 billion at that time. This is the date of both the beginning of the pandemic lockdowns in the U.S. and the publication of Forbes’ annual global billionaire survey. By July 17, 2020, their assets had surged to $971.9 billion.This means that over the four worst months of the pandemic in the United States to date, their collective wealth increased by $213.6 billion—an increase of 28 percent…the wealth of the U.S. billionaire class is growing so fast, even during the current pandemic, that it has outstripped billionaires’ capacity to give it away. If they want to make their promises real, Pledgers will have to dramatically accelerate their giving just to keep up with their asset growth.This leads to the second problem: most of these funds will end up in family foundations and donor-advised funds that could exist in perpetuity.

    The Nation-State’s control of its economy has been undermined by businesses that shifted from being multinational to being transnational. When wealth and information are concentrated in few hands, the social contract for a well-behaved society is shredded. The billionaire-owned 4th Estate neglects the divide and conquer tactics of class warfare that has led to chaos on the streets.

    What happens when existential crises imposed by weapons of mass destruction, climate change and pandemics are woven into the narrative? Information wars seed “fake news,” fodder for the promulgation of neoliberalism and neofascism. Neo (“The One”) was the superhero protagonist in the Matrix. Is it any wonder truth voids fill with the conspiracy thought bubble QAnon?

    I repeat. Will there even be “victors” of our 21st Century Wars to record history?

  8. Kris Alman

    In fact, the foundation’s website and most recent tax forms clearly show investments in such companies, including Gilead and CureVac.

    Gilead’s remdesivir, of course, is in the news with headlines like “Covid-19 patients recovering quickly after getting experimental drug remdesivir.”

    In July 2014, I attended the Global Health Law Summer Institute held at the William H. Gates Hall of the University of Washington School of Law. With an eye toward the high costs of pharmaceuticals, I was motivated to learn more in order to challenge the Intellectual Chapter of the TPP.

    One of the presentations regarded the pricing of Gilead’s Solvaldi and patent laws. I wrote about this at the Lund Report: Drug Prices in America: ROI or RIP?

    With many of the speakers funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Bill Gates was the demi-god at this conference. I concluded that critical thinking is challenging when one man controls “liberal” policy-making globally.

  9. Basil Pesto

    Second, it also appears designed to pre-empt or at least weaken efforts to have government intervene, either via social programs or law against damaging conduct.

    Indeed, one might wish to remind themself at this point that Gates has spoken out virulently against MMT.

  10. USdisabled vet

    Given that Gates is a believer in eugenics to a far greater extent than mere population control it would be wise to refuse any vaccine that he would promote; especially after the disastrous results of his vaccination programs in India and Africa.

  11. juno mas

    Bill Gates is not a Doctor (MD)? Hell, he doesn’t have a college degree. (He’s a college drop-out who used someone else’s operating system to sell to the then burgeoning personal computer market, while taking competitors to court and strangling competition. He actually LOST his anti-trust case in federal court, but the government failed to impose serious sanctions against Microsoft. (So their junk software and general grifting continues to this day!)

    Yes, Bill Gates is not a doctor. Hell, he’s not even a pharmacist. His prescriptions are void.

    1. zagonostra

      His mother was also an executive at IBM. The whole garage-innovator myth evaporates when you view origins of DOS more closely.

      1. juno mas

        Yes, and his father was a corporate attorney in Seattle. Likely encouraged the son to stifle competitors by taking them to court.

        All these billionaires should read Burton Malkiel’s, “A random Walk Down Wall Street”. Often it is sheer luck that allows the accumulation of enough capital to “dominate” (monopolize) a business sector. In Gate’s case, he lucked into an emerging market (personal computers), diminished business regulation (anti-trust), and the lack of sophistication by new computer users. Now they’re stuck with an operating system that “updates” without oversight and tracks their usage at every opportunity.

  12. Jeremy Grimm

    Many obscenely wealthy individuals have used their wealth to birth entities — Foundations, Think-Tanks — reflecting and magnifying aspects of their personalities and beliefs. Bill Gates has used his wealth to create the Gates Foundation. Our obscenely wealthy already bequeath Corporate Entities to our future and add their Foundations and Think Tanks to their legacies. When they are alive our ‘benefactors’ continue to imprint their personalities on these Entities — but how will these creatures evolve after the death of their progenitors? It’s bad enough that Wealth should build so much power for personalities like Bill Gates, but our children will have to live with the monsters that outlive them and may evolve to become even more sociopathic and psychotic than their creators. If only self-aggrandizement of Big Money could be shifted to building pyramids of Sandstone blocks perhaps to enclose riches of Indium, pure Silicon Slabs, and other such goodies, or vast libraries of science and technical books printed with ink that will last for a millennium and longer on paper or some other material that will last as long as the ink — or digging vast tombs deep in stone to bury our present nuclear waste and protect it from disturbance. Twisted replicas of personalities like Mr. Bill’s or the Koch Brothers wielding their tremendous Wealth and Power to continue the warped drives of their progenitors is a terrible gift to our future.

    The extent of the Gates Foundation’s rhizoids growing into our decaying Media is surprising but not that surprising. NPR received a large amount of attention in this post but I haven’t listened to NPR for more than a decade, so I was unaware of the extent and specifics of its decay. I wonder how the bang-per-buck of foundation PR spending compares to the bang-per-buck PR spending of direct purchases like those of Bezos. The question does raise some apples to oranges comparisons given the different kinds of PR purchased.

    1. Nick Alcock

      You mean like Harvard, Princeton, Yale, and more or less every other major US university? Most of its big libraries too.

      These almost *all* started with great big bequests from fairly dreadful people: but in the end their money went to good ends. (The only other successful approach seems to be to start with state support, either in a modern education-focused university or — for the older European universities — in what we would now consider a quasi-theocracy or outright theocracy.)

      If you refuse to interact with anything that was founded by tainted money and/or violence, you probably cannot interact with any large entity at all. Certainly not any government.

      1. BlakeFelix

        Citation needed on the good ends, I would like to be able to see a world without the Ivies, before I can judge their true worth. Stanford isn’t an Ivy, obviously, but what does a world without “Blood and Soil” look like? Without Dulles and Henry Kissinger and the Kennedys? How much harm will the “Merchants of Doubt” have caused? Hell, we don’t have universal health care because Ted spiked it… And I particularly hate FDR with his huge power grabs and racist redlining… Woodrow Wilson was the one who purged the blacks from the Federal government. Obama and Steve Bannon have fancy degrees, but who benefited? What if instead of big fancy closed libraries and colleges we had skilled labor and an industrial base? That isn’t a clearly worse world for those without Brahmin credentials, at least in my eyes.

  13. David in Santa Cruz

    Gates has been at this for years — he knows the importance of control over the messaging coming out of the news media.

    The largest and most devastating consolidation of the U.S. news media was the 2006 bankruptcy and dismemberment of Knight-Ridder, owners of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Miami Herald, and San Jose Mercury News, among 32 dailies. McClatchy (bankrupt just this year) purchased Knight-Ridder and then spun-off a dozen papers to William Dean Singleton’s MediaNews consortium, who were bankrupt within four years. American investigative journalism has never truly recovered from this disaster.

    The Internet has been well-wiped, but you can still find evidence online that one of the guarantors for Singleton’s purchase of those papers was the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

  14. bob

    Like politicians, NPR sells so much for so very little.

    Make sure to support your local NPR station! You keep the lights on, Bill chooses the programming.

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