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‘Thinly veiled propaganda campaign’: Federal government spent $8.5 million in taxpayer funds to produce​ podcasts: Report
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‘Thinly veiled propaganda campaign’: Federal government spent $8.5 million in taxpayer funds to produce​ podcasts: Report

The federal government spent $8.5 million in taxpayer funds to produce a number of podcasts, some of which promoted left-wing ideology, according to a new report from OpenTheBooks.com obtained by the New York Post on Wednesday.

The watchdog group found that between February 2020 and September 2023, at least 58 podcasts were produced using $8,535,556 in taxpayer funds provided by the government through grant programs and other federal funding. During that same period, the government spent $323.7 million on overarching projects that included the podcasts, the report found, according to the Post. OpenTheBooks noted that both foreign and domestic entities received the funds.

The National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts, both federal government agencies, issued most of the grants. According to the NEH’s website, the agency has awarded more than $5.6 billion through over 64,000 grants.

Last year, the two agencies had a combined budget of $207 million, an increase of $45 million compared to 2020.

The Post reported that some of the podcast topics included history, art, literature, science, languages, and religion. According to the watchdog organization’s report, several of the shows were “left-wing ideological agitprop.”

A Southern history podcast, which received $370,000 from the NEH and NEA, featured an episode titled “Bedfellows Forever: How 19th-century male romantic friendships queer our understanding of historical masculinity.” The host, who is described as “grappling with how to define his own relationship with his best friend,” explores accounts of “19th century men who clasped hands, hugged, shared tears, wrote deeply intimate letters to one another, and shared beds.”

Another podcast received $227,420 from the NEH and featured an episode in 2021 titled “The little pronoun that could.” It discussed a “new, gender-neutral pronoun which challenged Swedish grammar norms.”

The “Queens Memory Podcast” was given $228,546 from the NEH. A 2020 episode titled “Uprising” focused on the “continued self-education on racism” and featured “firsthand accounts” from individuals who “participated in the Black Lives Matter movement” and attended the protests that “swept across the country.”

Brains On!” a children’s science podcast, was awarded a whopping $556,544 in taxpayer funds, some of which was likely reportedly used to create propaganda episodes about the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine. An episode titled “The heroes we need to defeat the coronavirus” used superhero characters to encourage children to follow the government’s guidance.

“We meet the superheroes prepared to help us defeat the coronavirus: Sgt. Socially Distanced, the Masked Mentor, the Testmaster and the Vaxinator!” the podcast’s webpage stated.

Purple Royale,” a podcast that “addresses issues and stories affecting trans and intersex lives in Zimbabwe,” is exclusively funded by the State Department and received $5,000 in taxpayer funds.

Regeneration Rising,” a podcast with four reviews on Spotify, received $446,353 from the Department of Agriculture. The show, which is targeted toward “beginning agrarians,” featured an episode on “building [a] queer farmer community.”

Additionally, the federal government spent $171,000 to train journalists, artists, and others in Brazil, Bulgaria, and Yemen on how to produce podcasts. Another $89,000 went to similar training in Rhode Island, Alaska, and Texas.

“We pay plenty of taxes — from income to inheritance to capital gains,” Adam Andrzejewski, founder of Open the Books, told the Post, “But who knew we were paying a podcast tax?”

“Americans are accustomed to getting untold hours of free content through podcast platforms, and the federal government should stay out of the podcast content business,” he continued. “It’s a thinly veiled propaganda campaign used to hype silly notions or radical ideologies paid for by the American people.”

The NEH and NEA did not respond to a request for comment from the Post by the time of publication.

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