Something doesn't quite smell right about Reuters' coverage of George Soros and his potential ties to Occupy Wall Street -- at least that's what some very frustrated media critics are saying.
Yesterday, the Blaze reported on a Reuters article that questioned whether Soros, a controversial billionaire, has been indirectly funding the anti-bank protest movement.
The report was by no means a "slam dunk" accusation that the leftist investor is involved. Still, frustrations in the media realm are rampant and Reuters seems to be responding quite oddly to the critiques.
The article, itself, simply provided some information on potential ties between an organization Soros has funded and at least one group behind the protests. Now, it seems the controversy has jumped from whether Soros has any involvement with Occupy Wall Street to the fact that Reuters published the story in the first place. The Atlantic's Adam Clark Estes writes:
Because of a "technical glitch" and an editor's mistake, Reuters published a story that alleged that George Soros was the secret backer of the Occupy Wall Street protests because he gave money to a group that gave money to a group that was an early publicizer of the protests. It was roundly mocked in media circles today, especially after the story went from carrying the headline "Who's Behind the Wall Street Protests" to "Soros: Not a Funder of Wall Street Protests."
Now, here's the "after" version. Pay special attention to the headline change -- and the lede:
Rather than correcting or amending the story, Reuters changed it entirely. Based on the ledes, which can be seen in both pictures above, the entire premise of the follow-up story evolved, as it apparently seeks to debunk the notion that Soros is connected to Occupy Wall Street. Apparently, both articles were even posted simultaneously yesterday without explanation.
Even more bizarre, Reuters chose to lead with, "George Soros isn't a financial backer of the Wall Street protests" in the secondary piece (which may have been crafted as a response to media critique). While it's certainly possible that Soros isn't involved, why would Reuters suddenly take a stance that definitively claims that he is not backing the movement? Where are the media critics to rail against this biased assertion?
This morning, the version of the story that appears to be present on the Reuters web site is the one titled, "Soros: not a funder of Wall Street protests" (but the old one is still present as well). In another oddity, it seems the writers have gone back to the original introduction, but have kept the secondary header (is your head spinning yet)? Perhaps the editors realized that defending Soros wasn't journalistically astute.
In an attempt to recap the rationale that propped up the original piece, the Observer's Foster Kamer wrote the following list:
1. Soros’ Open Society gave money to The Tides Center.
2. The Tides Center, a San Francisco-based quasi-clearinghouse for other nonprofit donations, gave money to AdBusters Magazine.
3. AdBusters—an anti-corporate Canadian magazine teenagers read when they’re 16 and listening to lots of Rage Against the Machine and dreaming of protesting globalization before they spend four years at Colgate, afterwards, ending up with a job at Wieden+Kennedy or something—made a poster suggesting people Occupy Wall Street.
4. AdBusters becomes relevant for the first time in, like, seven years when people actually Occupied Wall Street.
5. Reuters quotes Soros regarding Occupy Wall Street, context aside, as saying “I can understand their sentiment.”
6. Conclusion: George Soros is behind Occupy Wall Street.
Again, Reuters didn't unequivocally report that Soros is behind Occupy Wall Street, thus point six isn't necessarily accurate. In Reuters' defense, the initial piece was very careful to use the word "indirect." Additionally, a focus was placed upon conservatives' and their charges that Soros may have involvement.
There has been much speculation over who is financing the disparate protest, which has spread to cities across America and lasted nearly four weeks. One name that keeps coming up is investor George Soros, who in September debuted in the top 10 list of wealthiest Americans. Conservative critics contend the movement is a Trojan horse for a secret Soros agenda…
…Reuters did find indirect financial links between Soros and Adbusters, an anti-capitalist group in Canada which started the protests with an inventive marketing campaign aimed at sparking an Arab Spring type uprising against Wall Street. Moreover, Soros and the protesters share some ideological ground.
In the end, it's true: Soros and the protesters do share "ideological ground." Furthermore, there are indirect financial links (I emphasize indirect here) between the billionaire financier and a group that marketed the protests.
According to the Reuters report, Soros' Open Society Institute gave $3.5 million to the Tides Center. From 2001-2010, Tides gave Adbusters grants totaling $185,000. About $26,000 of this was given between between 2007 and 2009.
Also, the piece includes the following words: "Aides to Soros say any connection is tenuous and that Soros has never heard of Adbusters. Soros himself declined comment." This, alone, showcases that the intend wasn't necessarily to smear Soros, as some have contended.
Last week, the Blaze created and published a video that delves into the "Occupy Wall Street Journal," a newspaper that has been distributed down at the protest site. In our video expose, Arun Gupta, a founding editor of the New York City-based outlet "The Indypendent," explains his team's involvement in the new protest publication.
In 2001, hundreds of thousands of dollars in potential Soros funds went to The Independent Media Center, which is affiliated with "The Indypendent" (Gupta also works for the IMC) Below, watch the video that highlights this connection:
In 2008, an article on the Open Society Institute's web site praises IMC (though it does say that changing technology has posed problems for the group's practicality). It reads:
Historically, the anti-globalization movement and its earlier national precursors have had a long and eventful engagement with media, old and new, always eager to embrace the latest gadgets and trends....As access to the Internet became more widespread, the anti-globalization activists from all over the world found themselves connected to its giant protest grid and it seemed logical to build a lean, fast, and cheap reporting network to take advantage of it.
The most impressive of such networks- the Independent Media Center (or Indymedia)-- sprang up in the wake of the Seattle anti-WTO protests of 1999, acquiring a cult status in the anti-globalization community overnight. Since then, Indymedia has been busy supplying their contributors with reporting equipment, organizing media trainings, and helping their stringers get their stories out to the general public...
View more videos at: http://nbcnewyork.com.
So, while the connections are potentially weak or indirect, the outrage coming from reporters is somewhat surprising. Soros' has a history of funding far-left movements. Why aren't journalists delving in to see who, indeed, is providing the capital needed to fuel Occupy Wall Street and its associated movements?