With Soros funding, NPR walked into escalating crossfire

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Should NPR have accepted a $1.8 million reporting grant from the Open Society Foundations, given the antagonism that political conservatives and Fox News has for their founder, philanthropist and financier George Soros? “In retrospect, knowing what I now know, would I rather that the first money had come from somewhere else? Probably yes,” says Oregon Public Broadcasting President and NPR Board member Steve Bass in Politico‘s lengthy Dec. 12 report on how the grant exacerbated the controversy over NPR’s dismissal of news analyst Juan Williams.

Politico’s Keach Hagey reveals that the grant, which backs start-up of an NPR news initiative to strengthen enterprise reporting in state capitols, was approved in mid-August after months of discussions. “The Open Society grant came to NPR at a time when Soros was trying to cement his role as the definitive bogeyman of the right,” Hagey writes. The same week that NPR unveiled its Impact of Government project, Soros announced his first-ever contribution to David Brock’s progressive watchdog group Media Matters for America to “more widely publicize the challenge Fox News poses to civil and informed discourse.”

The Washington Post recently reported on the long history of crossfire between Fox News and Media Matters — and how NPR walked unwittingly into it.

NPR plans to announce more funders for its Impact of Government project soon, President Vivian Schiller said during a Dec. 8 roundtable forum in Washington, D.C.