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Immeasurable Influence: Bill Gates Pumps $319 Million into Media Outlets

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What do you associate with Bill Gates? 

He’s the founder of Microsoft and one of the richest men alive. Nevertheless, you may think of him as a philanthropist. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is the world’s largest private charitable entity, after all. 

When you think of Bill Gates, do you consider his involvement in Africa? How about his investment in Monsanto, or his ties to Jeffrey Epstein? Maybe you’ve heard that Gates urged Oxford University to seek a private patent with “pharmaceutical giant” AstraZeneca, rather than offer an open source COVID-19 vaccine to nations in desperate need of immunization. 

Or maybe you haven’t. I admittedly hadn’t until I started this research. 

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Perhaps Gates’ darker dealings remain in the shadows because he invests in the very media outlets that threaten his exposure. Last month, MintPress News revealed that Gates has given at least $319 million to various media outlets, organizations, universities, and business ventures. The independent watchdog organization investigated 30,000 individual grants before presenting this grand total. 

Here are just a few of the sizable awards that Gates has given to media outlets, provided by MintPress:

NPR– $24,663,066

The Guardian (including TheGuardian.org)- $12,951,391   

Univision- $5,924,043

Der Spiegel (Germany)- $5,437,294       

NBCUniversal Media- $4,373,500

Nation Media Group (Kenya) – $4,073,194

Le Monde (France)- $4,014,512

Bhekisisa (South Africa) – $3,990,182

El País – $3,968,184

BBC- $3,668,657

CNN- $3,600,000   

KCET- $3,520,703

The Daily Telegraph – $3,446,801

Corporation for Public Broadcasting – $2,430,949

Financial Times – $2,309,845

The Atlantic– $1,403,453

Al-Jazeera– $1,000,000

ProPublica– $1,000,000

PBS – $499,997

Medium.com – $412,000   

Independent Television Broadcasting Inc. – $300,000

Independent Television Service, Inc. – $300,000

Caixin Media (China) – $250,000

Pacific News Service – $225,000

National Journal – $220,638

Chronicle of Higher Education – $149,994

Media Trust – $100,000

New York Public Radio – $77,290

Additionally, Gates has donated nearly $63 million to charities associated with large media outlets, like BBC Media Action and The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund. MintPress also highlighted Gates’ donations to investigative journalism centers, press and journalism associations, universities with large journalism programs (e.g. our very own UC Berkeley), and media projects associated with entities like the World Health Organization and the Entertainment Industry Foundation.  

This money talks. Although MintPress has provided these totals, Bill Gates’ influence is ultimately immeasurable. MintPress journalist Alan Macleod noted, “Only donations to press organizations themselves or projects that could be identified from the information on the Gates Foundation’s website as media campaigns were counted, meaning that thousands of grants having some media element do not appear in this list,” highlighting Viacom and CBS as unlisted beneficiaries. 

In the Columbia Journalism Review, journalist Tim Schwab underlines the challenge of tracking Gates’ paper trail, writing, “In some cases, recipients say they distributed part of the funding as subgrants to other journalistic organizations—which makes it difficult to see the full picture of Gates’s funding into the fourth estate.” 

Of course, the plot thickens even further when discussing the influence that this money has on the media outlets themselves. On a recent episode of The Joe Rogan Experience, Matt Taibbi, (former Rolling Stone editor turned independent journalist), outlined the nebulous influence that benefactors lord over the media outlets that they invest in:

As a reporter, you may or may not be aware of all the different ways that money will work its way into the business, but unconsciously it just sort of seeps in. Nobody comes and tells you, ‘Don’t cover this,’ or ‘Take this approach to covering education.’ What ends up happening is you get a feel based on the reaction of your editor to whatever pitch you’re giving at the moment…If the editor says, ‘Yeah, maybe,’ then you know to never broach that again. But if it’s in the right ideological slant, they’re gonna be hot for it. That’s how it works.

As of this month, Bill Gates is currently the fourth richest person in the world (preceded by Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Bernard Arnault, respectively), and the biggest private owner of farmland in the United States.

“Think about all the power that money brings [Bill Gates],” said independent reporter Jimmy Dore on The Jimmy Dore Show last month. “I remember he got pied in the face in the 90’s. I remember when public opinion was turning against him. Then he got smart and just decided to buy the media.”

Maybe that’s why you’re more likely to see coverage of Bill Gates’ divorce than you are to see coverage of Bill Gates’ bankrolling.

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Lydia Sviatoslavsky

Lydia Sviatoslavsky

Lydia Sviatoslavsky covers culture and curiosities for Bay City News and Broke-Ass Stuart. She publishes artist interviews and experimental writing at thought-rot.net. You can find her on Instagram at @rot_thought.

1 Comment

  1. Moi
    December 9, 2021 at 4:34 am — Reply

    So, is his involvement on this small marble net-positive or net-negative? Just curious as to you take.

    And I ask that knowing that a whole lot of good has been done by people who have been involved in quite a bit of horrible actions/events.

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