Back in July of 2016, I did a two-part article, “American Samizdat — Publication Forbidden in U.S.”, which went down the rabbit-hole of news-suppression (censorship) in the United States but left, for the future, a more detailed description of the money-track back to the individuals who control that censorship in serving the economic interests of the same billionaires who control both the Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee — both of America’s two national political Parties (and they thus determined, for example, in the Democratic Party, that Bernie Sanders would never get that Party’s Presidential nomination, though he had the highest approval-rating of any politician in the country, and far higher than Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and Joe Biden ever had — yet the billionaires fooled the majority of Democratic Party primary voters to think that he was ‘too radical’ to be able to beat Trump, even though, in all polled hypothetical matchups against Trump, Sanders beat Trump by far higher margins than Clinton did, and basically equal to what Biden did, so the ‘electability’ ‘issue’ was fabricated by the billionaires’ press, in order to get a candidate who was acceptable to the billionaires to be running against Trump).
A dictatorship functions by news-suppression and other forms of censorship, even more than it does by its own lying. It functions by deceit, but the main way it deceives is by prohibiting the truth to be published on any of the billionaires’ (or other ruling group’s) media — including all of the media that have large audiences.
News-suppression used to be controlled by the CIA’s Operation Mockingbird, in which the owners and top executives of the major ‘news’-media took the CIA’s orders and trusted it to represent in the most reliable way the collective interests of America’s wealthiest persons, so as to weaken those individuals’ foreign economic competitors. However, gradually, after the 1976 Frank-Church-led U.S. Senate hearings into the CIA’s deceptions of the American public, America’s wealthiest — the same people whom Wall Street firms also represent — relied increasingly upon the nonprofits (foundations etc.) that they controlled, in order to transfer some of this censorship-function over to those nonprofits — privatize the censorship function. It was done so that the same people who controlled the U.S. Government would be able to continue controlling it and would allow into the billionaire class new members (mainly technocrats) of the nation’s aristocracy. This would enhance the U.S. aristocracy’s collective control over the U.S. Government. There is less need, than before, for the CIA to do the censoring. (So: the group collectively also constitutes its own gatekeepers. They don’t rely only upon market-forces in order to determine who is “us,” and who is “them,” but any misbehaving member will increasingly become treated as being “one of ‘them’,” and this will be reflected in the group’s ‘news’-media. It’s an oligarchy here, and not only an aristocracy. It is an exclusionary aristocracy.)
Hugh Wilford’s 2008 THE MIGHTY WURLITZER: How the CIA Played America described how, starting in the late 1960s, America’s super-rich began transferring (privatizing) some of their censorship-functions away from the Government, and into their own controlled ‘news’-media and nonprofits.
As the former Washington Post reporter Carl Bernstein headlined on 20 October 1977, “THE CIA AND THE MEDIA”, in the wake of the Church Committee’s report, and described that Senate report’s context:
During the 1976 investigation of the CIA by the Senate Intelligence Committee, chaired by Senator Frank Church, the dimensions of the Agency’s involvement with the press became apparent to several members of the panel, as well as to two or three investigators on the staff. But top officials of the CIA, including former directors William Colby and George Bush, persuaded the committee to restrict its inquiry into the matter and to deliberately misrepresent the actual scope of the activities in its final report. The multivolume report contains nine pages in which the use of journalists is discussed in deliberately vague and sometimes misleading terms. It makes no mention of the actual number of journalists who undertook covert tasks for the CIA. Nor does it adequately describe the role played by newspaper and broadcast executives in cooperating with the Agency.
Ever since that time, the CIA’s direct control over U.S. media has eroded and become privatized largely into the billionaires’ nonprofits, even while the CIA’s control over the media in U.S.-allied foreign aristocracies has continued unabated, so as to extend yet further the American empire.
At the top in America are the billionaires who donate the most to politicians, and whose tax-exempt foundations collectively carry out what used to be the CIA’s Operation Mockingbird — the censorship-function.
Two organizations especially should be cited here as leaders of today’s American billionaire-class and privatized censorship operations, and any reader here should keep in mind that the largest funders of these two organizations are themselves only hints at the billionaires who control each one of them, and, furthermore, since these are only two such organizations, there might be other similar organizations that, perhaps in other ways, are equally important as these two determiners of the news that the vast majority of the U.S. public are, and will be, blocked from seeing and hearing (such as this).
First is a crucial operation that serves the Democratic National Committee, the DNC:
What We Do
The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) is a nationally recognized watchdog that leads in-depth, award-winning investigations into the corruption that undermines our democracy, environment, and economic prosperity.
The Koch brothers and their network of billionaires are operating with a reach and resources that exceed those of political parties and they are using that power to erode the integrity of our elections and sap taxpayer dollars away from investments in public infrastructure, education, and healthcare to benefit narrow special interests and global corporations.
CMD’s investigations, public information requests, and lawsuits have ignited national conversations on money in politics and the distortion of U.S. law and democracy — at every level of government and in every region of the country. We believe in the public’s right to know how government operates and how corporations influence our democracy — and the true motivations for their actions. When necessary, CMD litigates to defend that right and ensure those in power follow the law.
Since CMD first exposed ALEC in 2011, more than 100 corporations have dropped ALEC, including Verizon, Ford, Coca-Cola, Wal-Mart, General Electric, and Google. As a result of that ongoing investigation and other reporting, CMD is often contacted by whistleblowers wanting to make a difference. CMD has also researched the array of groups that are part of ALEC, including numerous Koch-funded entities and national and state “think tanks” that are affiliated with the State Policy Network.
CMD files more than 1,000 public information requests each year. This investigative watchdog work has broken through in the national debate. For example, CMD exposed EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s deep ties to the fossil fuel industry and revealed lobbyist efforts to hide Chamber of Commerce members’ overwhelming support for raising the minimum wage and providing paid sick leave, among other groundbreaking investigations.
CMD’s work has been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, POLITICO, the Guardian, Bloomberg, WIRED, Vice, The Atlantic and Buzzfeed as well as on CNN, MSNBC, NBC, CBS, PBS, NPR, The Daily Show, and Last Week with John Oliver. We also partner with investigative writers at The Intercept and ProPublica to publish new reports and findings.
“The fight to keep our democracy from becoming a plutocracy doesn’t have a scrappier warrior than the Center for Media and Democracy.” — Bill Moyers
“CMD’s scrappy crew tracks the Koch Machine every day, shines a light on corruption in our democracy, and takes politicians to court when they try to hide their special-interest ties from the public.” — Robert Reich
“…watchdog group that studie[s] the mechanics of political manipulation.” — Jane Mayer, Dark Money
“[CMD’s] requests are of federal importance.” — Sens. Carper, Whitehouse, Merkley, Booker, Markey and Duckworth
How We Expose Corruption
CMD puts a spotlight on hidden and unreported activities, forcing those trying to maneuver around the edges of laws and ethics out of the shadows. Our original research digs deeper than the 24-hour news cycle to answer and understand why and how special interests and dark money are reshaping American politics and elections. Our team focuses on documenting the facts and revealing the effects on communities and people in areas ranging from climate change and education to workplace standards and freedom of speech.
CMD’s groundbreaking exposés are featured on ExposedbyCMD.org. The watchdog also publishes SourceWatch, an encyclopedia of corporations, corporate special interest groups and their leaders; specialized investigative websites, including ALECExposed.org; and its founding website, PRWatch.org.
Awards and Honors
CMD’s investigations have been recognized for their excellence and impact. Our recent awards for investigative journalism include:
- The Sidney Award from the Sidney Hillman Foundation in 2018 for the exposé “Two Faces of Janus.”
- The “Izzy” I.F. Stone Award for outstanding achievement in independent media (shared with Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous) from the Park Center for Independent Media.
- The Sidney Award (shared jointly with The Nation) from the Sidney Hillman Foundation.
- The annual Professional Freedom and Responsibility Award from the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, Culture and Critical Studies Division, whose past recipients include Izzy Stone, Bill Moyers, and Molly Ivins.
- The “Benny” from the Business Ethics Network.
- CMD has been honored by the Milwaukee Press Club for one of its investigations into shadowy front groups influencing elections.
- CMD’s research was featured in Ava DuVernay’s film “The 13th,” which was nominated for a 2017 Academy Award for Best Documentary.
Ground-breaking books by writers from the Center for Media and Democracy include:
- Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out on How Corporate PR Is Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans
- Toxic Sludge Is Good For You: Lies, Damn Lies and the Public Relations Industry
- Trust Us, We’re Experts: How Industry Manipulates Science and Gambles With Your Future
- Mad Cow USA
- Weapons of Mass Deception: The Uses of Propaganda in Bush’s War on Iraq
- Banana Republicans: How the Right Wing is Turning America Into a One-party State
- The Best War Ever: Lies, Damned Lies and the Mess in Iraq
CMD was founded in 1993 by John Stauber in Madison, Wisconsin. In March 2018, Arn Pearson became CMD’s Executive Director, succeeding Lisa Graves, who served as executive director from 2009-2018 and currently serves as board President. CMD’s team includes researchers, data experts, FOIA experts, lawyers, and fact-checkers. CMD is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt non-profit.
Board of Directors
- Lisa Graves, Board President
- Deborah Bey
- Ellen Braune
- Cosmo Harrigan
- Jan Miyasaki
- Ted Nace
- Bo Yerxa
- Arn Pearson, Ex-Officio Board Member
The following foundations have provided at least one grant of $5,000 or more to support the work of CMD since its inception in 1993. Those listed in bold are recent funders.
- American Legacy Foundation
- Bauman Family Foundation
- Careth Foundation
- Carolyn Foundation
- Changing Horizons Charitable Trust
- Courtney’s Foundation
- CS Fund
- Deer Creek Foundation
- Educational Foundation of America
- Ettinger Foundation
- Ford Foundation
- Foundation for Deep Ecology
- Foundation for Political Management
- Funding Exchange
- Richard & Rhoda Goldman Fund
- Grodzins Fund
- Helena Rubinstein Foundation
- HKH Foundation
- Litowitz Foundation
- Marisla Foundation
- Mostyn Foundation
- Open Society Institute
- Park Foundation
- Public Welfare Foundation
- Proteus Fund
- V. Kann Rasmussen Foundation
- Rockefeller Associates
- Rockefeller Family Foundation
- Rockwood Fund
- Stern Family Fund
- Schumann Center for Media and Democracy
- Sunlight Foundation
- Threshold Foundation
- Tides Foundation
- Town Creek Foundation
- Turner Foundation
- Wallace Global Fund
- Winslow Foundation
Contributions from individuals and non-profit organizations are accepted. We accept no grants from government agencies or for-profit corporations, except for CREDO, which makes donations to nonprofits based on votes by its activists and customers.
CMD does not accept funding from for-profit corporations or grants from government agencies. Learn how you can help support and expand CMD’s groundbreaking investigations here.
Second is a crucial operation that serves the Republican National Committee, the RNC:
The Poynter Institute receives broad support from a variety of sources. Here is an alphabetical list of our funders, including all foundations, corporations, partners and individuals that gave the Poynter Institute more than $50,000 for 2019 or 2020. This list was last updated in June 2020.
Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
Annie E. Casey Foundation
Charles Koch Foundation
Google News Initiative
John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
National Endowment for Democracy
Newton & Rochelle Becker Charitable Trust
Omidyar Network | Luminate
Open Society Foundations
Peter & Carmen Lucia Buck Foundation
Rita Allen Foundation
Robert R. McCormick Foundation
Silicon Valley Community Foundation
Tides Foundation (Google.org)
Largest custom training partners in 2018 or 2019
American Society of Business Publication Editors
Charles Koch Institute
National Public Radio
Pinellas County School District
Southern Newspapers Publishers Association
The Washington Post
USA Today Network
Voice of America – Broadcasting Board of Governors
The Poynter Institute specializes in assisting America’s major ‘news’-media to blacklist sites the billionaires agree together are ‘unreliable’:
International Fact-Checking Network 
In 2015, the institute launched the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN), which sets a code of ethics for fact-checking organizations. The IFCN reviews fact-checkers for compliance with its code, and issues a certification to publishers who pass the audit. The certification lasts for one year, and fact-checkers must be re-examined annually to retain their certifications. Google, Facebook, and other technology companies use the IFCN’s certification to vet publishers for fact-checking contracts.
Fake news blacklist 
In 2019, Poynter used various “fake news” databases (including those curated by the Annenberg Public Policy Center, Merrimack College, PolitiFact, and Snopes) to compile a list of over 515 news websites that it labeled “unreliable.” Poynter called on advertisers to “blacklist” the sites on the list. The list included conservative news websites such as the Washington Examiner, The Washington Free Beacon, and The Daily Signal. After backlash, Poynter retracted the list, citing “weaknesses in the methodology.” Poynter issued a statement, saying: “We regret that we failed to ensure that the data was rigorous before publication, and apologize for the confusion and agitation caused by its publication.”
One might wonder: Why are Republican donors blacklisting some pro-Republican-Party news-sites? But it’s the same reason that Democratic donors blacklist some pro-Democratic-Party news-sites: they want their Party to avoid nominating any populist, who might not be controllable by themselves. Whereas on the Democratic Party side, a populist such as Bernie Sanders receives no support from any billionaire (since he’a an authentic populist, a progressive), a populist on the Republican Party side, such as Trump (who is a fake populist), can attract some billionaires’ support. Consequently, the only type of populist who can become elected in a multi-Party dictatorship is a populist of the fake type: a fascist ‘populist’ — a ‘populist’ who serves some billionaires.
The following foundations sponsor both the DNC’s and the RNC’s censorship-operations, and therefore represent simultaneously both sides of America’s aristocracy — they, deep down, recognize that America’s partisan conflicts don’t really amount to much, and that all of America’s billionaires are really on the same side, against the public (not only in foreign lands, but even within the U.S. itself):
Open Society Institute
Tides Foundation (Google)
Google, which is the biggest supplier of advertising-income to websites, has already put some of the best independent news-sites out of business, by blacklisting them, blocking them from that income-stream.
Anyone who thinks that censorship advances democracy instead of dictatorship is totally ignorant of how the world actually works — a complete dupe. Many such dupes are well-intended. For example, on 5 July 2020, Israel’s Ha’aretz newspaper bannered “Swedish neo-Nazi Party Attends Biggest Political Event in Sweden”, and reported that “Swedish law and its strong provisions for free speech make it difficult for the police to deny anyone the right to arrange a public gathering or demonstration. However, one exception is if the gathering constitutes a danger to the participants or heavily disrupts law and order.” It emphasized that “Sweden Became a Thriving Base of neo-Nazi Ideology” and assumed that freedom-of-speech helped to cause this “Thriving.” As if censorship reduces bigotry, instead of reduces the public’s awareness of the amount of bigotry that actually exists — and thereby forewarns the entire public about how dangerous the bigoted persons actually are. Furthermore, does freedom of speech “endanger participants” or “disrupt law and order,” or does physical violence instead do that? Excuses for censorship just don’t wash, they only deceive. Deception should itself always be civilly liable against anyone who does it, if its victim proves oneself to have been victimized by it; and multiple damages from it are sound penalties so that victims from deception will profit from it and perpetrators of it will be stripped to pay that restitution for the harms that those perpetrators have imposed upon their victims. But this — the penalties and restitution — isn’t censorship. The people who spread misconceptions favoring censorship might be well-intentioned, but what they are doing is wrong, and is not only false.
Censorship is the handmaiden of dictatorship.
Originally posted at the Strategic Culture Foundation