by Thomas Catenacci
The Associated Press announced Tuesday that it had secured funding from several progressive interest groups to hire two dozen climate change reporters.
The outlet referred to the groups’ funding as “philanthropic grants” and promised that the groups wouldn’t have any editorial control over the climate change content published, according to an announcement. But the five organizations — the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Rockefeller Foundation, Quadrivium and the Walton Family Foundation — are well known for pushing a variety of left-wing causes and funding Democratic political campaigns.
“This is a mutually beneficial arrangement,” said Brian Carovillano, the vice president of the AP’s news partnerships and grants.
The AP’s expansion of its climate change reporting will lead to about 20 new hires worldwide while other journalists will be reassigned, the outlet said. The reporters will be based in Africa, Brazil, India and the U.S., and they will reportedly write about climate change’s impact on various sectors, including the economy, agriculture and culture.
“This far-reaching initiative will transform how we cover the climate story,” AP executive editor Julie Pace said.
The five groups agreed to give the AP an $8 million grant lasting three years.
“Funders have no influence over AP’s reporting on this topic or any other,” AP spokesperson Lauren Easton told the Daily Caller News Foundation in a statement. “AP has long provided accurate, factual coverage of climate and the environment. This initiative is an expansion of that fact-based journalism. AP retains all editorial control.”
‘Extremely well-funded and includes paid media coverage’
The Hewlett Foundation has long supported leftist causes, including abortion provider Planned Parenthood and Defending Democracy Together, according to the Capital Research Center. The organization has also funded several climate groups and causes like the Sierra Club, Urban Environment Foundation and ClimateWorks Foundation.
Hewlett has also funded the Niskanen Center, which has argued in favor of punishing oil companies for climate change and provided legal support in a Colorado case against ExxonMobil and Suncor Energy seeking environmental damages.
The Howard Hughes Medical Institute, meanwhile, gave 98% of its political contributions for federal candidates to Democrats in 2020, according to OpenSecrets. The group has historically given the vast majority of its political donations to Democrats, including President Joe Biden, OpenSecrets data showed.
The third group, the Rockefeller Foundation is a “pillar of the liberal philanthropic establishment,” a report from InfluenceWatch, which tracks non-profit organizations, said. The group has funded liberal think tanks, including the Urban Institute, the New America Foundation, PolicyLink and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
The foundation has also promoted anti-fossil fuel activism such as the “ExxonKnew” campaign, which alleges that ExxonMobil has hidden data about climate change for half a century. In 2016, the Rockefeller Family Fund announced it would divest from fossil fuel companies and accused Exxon of “morally reprehensible conduct.”
“ExxonKnew is a coordinated campaign perpetuated by activist groups with the aim of stigmatizing ExxonMobil,” the fossil fuel company said in a February 2021 statement.
“Funders of the ‘#ExxonKnew’ campaign have placed ‘pay to play’ news stories, released flawed academic reports and coordinated with public officials to launch investigations and litigation, creating the false appearance that ExxonMobil has misrepresented its company research and investor disclosures on climate change to the public,” the company statement said.
The company specifically noted that Rockefeller funds were involved in promoting the campaign, which the statement said was “extremely well-funded and includes paid media coverage.”
Quadrivium was founded by James Murdoch, the son of billionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch, and his wife Kathryn. The couple donated $20 million to Biden’s election campaign and other progressive political groups in 2020.
The foundation, which lists climate change as among its priorities, has been active during recent federal elections, often giving millions of dollars to progressive groups and candidates, OpenSecrets data showed. The Murdochs funneled $100 million into the organization in 2019, but it’s unclear how much was doled out during the 2020 election, according to tax documents obtained by CNBC.
James Murdoch previously resigned from the board of Fox News parent company News Corp in 2020, citing “disagreements over certain editorial content published” as the reason for his departure.
Finally, the Walton Family Foundation is an active donor to multiple environmental groups, including the Environmental Defense Fund, World Wildlife Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council and the Meridian Institute. The foundation also funded the New Venture Fund, which helps grow left-wing advocacy groups, according to InfluenceWatch.
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Thomas Catenacci is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation.