Special Report: Columbia University

Soros Funds Next Generation of Liberal Journalism

The faculty list of the Columbia University School of Journalism reads like a Who’s Who of left-wing organizations. Of the 40 full-time members of the faculty, 27 work at explicitly left-wing outlets including The Huffington Post, Slate, The American Prospect, Mother Jones, Salon, The Nation and Greenpeace.

The American Prospect in particular makes no secret of its bias: “We're liberal, progressive, lefty – call it what you want, we're proud of it.” The Huffington Post has become established as a news outlet, but not without a substantial liberal bias, especially evident in its newly launched video channel “HuffPost Live,” where Columbia Journalism alumnus and professor Ahmed Shihab-Eldin works as a host.

While National Public Radio is a taxpayer-funded news outlet, it consistently uses that funding to promote a liberal agenda, including pushing for higher taxes, campaigning against hydraulic natural gas “fracking” and speaking out against big business.

Many of these professors not only write for these liberal outlets, but actually work full-time for them as well. A few (Thomas B. Edsall with the Huffington Post, Todd Gitlin with Greenpeace and Victor Navasky with The Nation) have actually sat on the boards of these outlets.

The Media Consortium, to which many of these outlets belong, is a liberal echo chamber where blogs and news operations like The Nation, The American Prospect and Mother Jones can share ideas. The Media Consortium ($675,000), The Nation ($77,000), The American Prospect ($1,280,000), Mother Jones ($485,000), and National Public Radio ($1,800,000) all receive funding from George Soros’s Open Society Foundations.

At least seven Columbia professors have strong ties to Soros. Berman, French, Gitlin and Navasky, as well as full-time professors June Cross, Rhoda Lipton and James Stewart, have also directly received awards or funding from Soros’s Open Society Foundations. Navasky is also the chairman of the Soros-funded Columbia Journalism Review (CJR), a publication affiliated with Columbia University School of Journalism.

Mike Gonzalez, vice president of Communications for the conservative Heritage Foundation, is a graduate of Columbia’s Graduate Business School and a former Knight-Bagehot Economics and Business Journalism fellow. Gonzalez told BMI that while he had “tremendous appreciation for the Business School, and especially for the Bagehot Fellowship,” he refuses to give money to Columbia because the school hires people like Navasky.

Gitlin, is one of the most left-wing faculty members. A former Vietnam War protestor turned anti-capitalist spokesperson, Gitlin celebrated the rise of the Occupy movement which he defined as “chaotic, romantic and utopian.”

In his book, “Occupy Nation: The Roots, the Spirit, and the Promise of Occupy Wall Street,” Gitlin described the Occupiers as “amazingly intense” and said that “everything they did was, in my view, right.” He added that what impressed him the most was the “eruption of intelligence I encountered there.”

More than 7,700 of these “sweet tempered” Occupy protestors were arrested between September 2011 (when the movement began) and April 2013. Their charges included everything from sexual assault and violence to drug possession and vandalism.

Gitlin also pointed to Students for a Democratic Society as a positive influence on the Occupy Movement. SDS was an often violent, radical left-wing group born out of the anti-war protests in the 60s. Gitlin was a founding member of the group, and its third president. This is the same group that bombed a Chicago police memorial and instigated the “Days of Rage” riot in Chicago in 1969. An offshoot of the SDS, the Weathermen (later called the Weather Underground Organization), was classified as a domestic terror group by the FBI after they used bombings, robberies and arson to further their political agenda. Gitlin was president of SDS in 1963 and 1964. Ironically, Gitlin teaches an elective at Columbia called “Argumentative Journalism.”

Apparently Columbia likes hiring former SDS members. Columbia School of Social Work professor Kathy Boudin previously spent 22 years in prison for her part in a Weathermen armored car robbery that caused the deaths of two police officers.

In his book, Gitlin praised Occupy Wall Street as descendents of SDS, he described the Tea Party as “tax obsessed,” “wreckers and obstructionists” who “drove the country to the brink of debt default in the summer of 2011.” It’s worth noting that no Tea Party supporter has ever been arrested at any of its events to date.

Gitlin wasn’t the only Columbia faculty member who disliked the Tea Party. CUSJ professor and former New Republic Editor Thomas B. Edsall described the Tea Party as being part of “[t]his new age of brutishness,” in an article for The New Republic that came complete with an angry caricature of former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin in military fatigues.

Navasky, Gitlin, and Edsall were typical of the Columbia Journalism faculty. Professor Dale Maharidge spoke out against Republican “code-language” and misplaced focus on social issues in an article he wrote for The Nation entitled “Rust & Rage in the Heartland.” Professor Betsy West was senior vice president for CBS News, but was fired after the “Rathergate” fabrication of President George W. Bush’s military records was exposed.

Even some of the faculty who don’t work for left-wing publications have been outspokenly liberal. Professor Emily Bell, in response to the Supreme Court hearing on California’s Proposition 8, tweeted her support for same-sex marriage as she attended a rally in Washington D.C., where she encouraged her 12-year-old to shout “wankers” at pro-traditional marriage supporters. She said she was “very proud” of him.

Professor Mark Hansen tweeted his dislike for Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act. Assistant Journalism Professor, and Director of Digital Media for CUSJ, Duy Linh Tu had one of the more politically outspoken Twitter users out of the full-time faculty, tweeting out things like “Mark Rubio loves his neighbors, especially if they love violence against women,” and the very to the point “Fuck the NRA.”

These professors have also been treated as experts by major news outlets, such as The New York Times, ABC, CBS, NBC, The Washington Post and USA Today, thanks to their status as Columbia faculty. Professor Thomas B. Edsall is a respected political commentator for The New York Times, using his position to publish attacks against the Republican Party’s “ideological rigidity, its preference for the rich over workers, its alienation of minorities, its reactionary social policies and its institutionalized repression of dissent and innovation.”