During discussions about talk-show host Rush Limbaugh's controversial reference to "phony soldiers," Amy Oliver of 1310 KFKA and Jon Caldara of Newsradio 850 KOA repeated the false assertion that philanthropist George Soros funds Media Matters for America. Colorado Media Matters repeatedly has denied the claim.
Discussing the controversy over talk-show host Rush Limbaugh's September 26 reference to "phony soldiers," Amy Oliver during her October 2 broadcast on 1310 KFKA agreed with a caller's assertion that Media Matters for America is "bought and paid for by one man, George Soros," and called Soros "a Media Matters funder." Similarly, on his October 2 Newsradio 850 KOA program, Independence Institute president Jon Caldara claimed that Soros "gives money through his shell organizations to Media Matters, which is a leftist organization that stirred up this whole phony soldier comment." The claim that the philanthropist Soros funds or has funded Media Matters -- either directly or indirectly -- is false, as Colorado Media Matters noted after Caldara made the same claim on his July 25 broadcast and again pointed out after he repeated the falsehood during his September 10 broadcast.
Oliver, who is also director of operations for the Independence Institute, discussed with a caller a resolution that Colorado U.S. Rep. Mark Udall introduced, "Honoring all Americans serving in the Armed Forces of the United States and condemning the attack by broadcaster Rush Limbaugh on the integrity and professionalism of some of those Americans." She and the caller also discussed a controversial September 10 ad placed by MoveOn.org in The New York Times headlined "General Petraeus or General Betray Us?"
From the October 2 broadcast of 1310 KFKA's The Amy Oliver Show:
OLIVER: Well, before we get to an adopt-a-platoon letter, I'm gonna quickly go to [caller] in Golden. Good morning, [caller].
CALLER: Good morning! Hey, I just wanted to apologize for changing subject on you --
OLIVER: Ah, that's OK.
CALLER: -- mid-interview yesterday.
OLIVER: No, that's OK. Actually, it was an interesting -- that, of course, is a huge topic. And I've got the transcript right here of what Congressman Mark Udall -- who is looking to be the senator from the state of Colorado -- what he is condemning. He and [Sen.] Harry Reid [D-NV] and [Sen.] Tom Harkin [D-IA]. Harry Reid called the comment "over the top." Tom Harkin thought Rush Limbaugh was back on drugs, I think. "Unpatriotic" -- you know, Harry Reid I think said "unpatriotic." That of course, Harry Reid the Senate majority leader, who says the war in Iraq is lost. So I, you know -- yeah, no, you brought up a good point that I wanted to get to and had planned to get to today. So go ahead. What -- you called Congressman Udall's office -- and just to let everybody know, we've got the transcript, we've got what was said. Rush Limbaugh spoke of "phony soldiers" -- which, by the way, Congressman John Salazar [D-CO] admitted there were, there are many of them, people who were impersonating soldiers or acting like soldiers, and has actually passed legislation to prosecute people who pretend to be soldiers for their own gain. So, go ahead [caller]. You had a comment.
CALLER: Oh, I was absolutely furious. I heard the exact quote when it was given and, you know, it was absolutely correct in context. It was about that rascal who bailed out of boot camp, called himself a Ranger with a Purple Heart who'd been overseas, none of which were true. That sounds pretty phony to me.
OLIVER: Not only that, he said he had been part of or participated in atrocities against Iraqi civilians?
CALLER: Great shades of John Kerry. It's a John Kerry wannabe. And essentially, I just get so tired of these politicians treating us like morons -- although the voting lately in this state has shown that we've imported a bunch.
CALLER: I still don't appreciate being treated like one along with that herd.
OLIVER: So you called Congressman Udall's office --
CALLER: Oh, yes.
OLIVER: And what kind of reception did you get?
CALLER: They were -- the little girl was very polite as I vented about, you know, he's going to sound like a moron if he goes through with this, 'cause he hasn't done his research and looked into it any more than having some people tell him what they heard. So on third-hand information he's going off half-cocked, and I thought that sounded pretty stupid. And --
OLIVER: Do you think, is this in retaliation for the MoveOn -- for the reaction to MoveOn.org?
CALLER: Of course. No question.
OLIVER: And you know, and I thought, OK, I need to -- I need to know exactly what was said, because I'll be the first one to admit, I thought MoveOn.org way over the top. I mean, that was beyond the pale. When they called General David Petraeus "General Betray Us," and essentially accused him of selling out the country, of selling out his, the soldiers under his command, to me, that -- without even hearing his testimony and with literally no proof that he had done so. Yeah, I think MoveOn.org deserved all of the criticism that they got. Now, does that mean they should go to jail because -- no. It just means that I think that they made a poor choice. And I think you're absolutely right. I think this is a handful of Democrats looking to say, "See!" You know, "You guys are doing it too." And then when I pulled the transcript I thought, "Are they kidding me? Is this it?" And we have Congressman Udall, who is introducing legislation to condemn, essentially, Rush Limbaugh. I mean, it's silly.
CALLER: It was inane, and he's counting on us being stupid and not looking into things like he did. He just didn't look into things.
OLIVER: No, and I'm wondering -- and I'm wondering if this will have, what kind of effect this will have on his senatorial campaign in Colorado. It will certainly garner him outside attention from the far left -- the MoveOn.org types -- but he already had them anyways. So I don't -- is this going to help Congressman Udall in his senatorial bid, or does this hurt him?
CALLER: I hope not, because all of these things -- the MoveOns, the Media Matters and stuff -- these are all bought and paid for by one man, George Soros, and if he's going to own our Congress, I hope he doesn't own our presidency as well.
OLIVER: And that, of course, George Soros, a Media Matters funder. His money does trickle down. So anyways, good point. Thank you, [caller], I appreciate it.
Similarly, Caldara on October 2 associated Soros with the MoveOn.org ad and claimed that he "gives money through his shell organizations to Media Matters."
From the October 2 broadcast of Newsradio 850 KOA's The Jon Caldara Show:
CALDARA: Rush Limbaugh, quote, in trouble? Nuh-ah. Uh-ah. I want to break this one apart. And there's two ways to look at it. Number 1: the absolute impropriety of government telling any private individual what they can and can't say. And that the left should be goin' nuts over this. The ACLU ought to be running out right now to defend Rush Limbaugh. Number 1. And Number 2, I wanna take a look at the mechanism by which this became an issue. How in the world did this term "phony soldier" turn into a national headline? 'Cause I gotta tell ya, after, what, 17 years on the air, Rush Limbaugh has said much more provocative things than phony soldier. 303-713-8585. Let's go to a cell phone. [Caller], you're on Newsradio 850 KOA. Howdy, [caller].
CALLER: Hey, how're you doin'? I'm glad to have you back.
CALDARA: It's good to be back.
CALLER: This kinda bothered me, because when an individual was attacked, aka the general -- I'm terrible with names, so I can't --
CALLER: Yeah. When he came back and made the report, there were people naming him, calling him traitor -- a lot worse things than a phony soldier.
CALLER: And yet the same people who're makin' a stink about this phony soldier remark said nothin' about that. Some of them went along with it.
CALDARA: Exactly. Exactly. Thank you for making that point.
CALLER: It's --
CALDARA: What we have here --
CALLER: -- a huge double standard.
CALDARA: What we have here is this wonderful double-edged sword coming from a handful of rich leftists, including George Soros, who puts money into organizations who then fund things like MoveOn.org to do a personal attack on General Petraeus and then gives money through his shell organizations to Media Matters, which is a leftist organization that stirred up this whole phony soldier comment.
As Media Matters has noted, conservative figures such as media consultant Phil Kent and Fox News' Bill O'Reilly have falsely claimed that Soros channels money to the organization from the Open Society Institute (OSI) through the Tides Foundation or the Center for American Progress (CAP).
In fact, OSI's income tax returns indicating grants to U.S. public charities show that every dollar OSI granted to Tides from 2001 to 2005 was earmarked for specific Tides-related programs and entities, and that Media Matters was not included on the list.
The available returns show that OSI has issued just two grants to CAP, both in 2005. According to the 2005 form, OSI granted $150,000 to CAP's Faith and Public Life Resource Center; it approved, but did not pay, a $110,000 grant to Campus Progress. Media Matters received no funding from CAP in 2005.
Alternatively, conservative figures have falsely claimed that Soros has funneled money to Media Matters through the Democracy Alliance, which does not itself make grants. Democracy Alliance founder Rob Stein explained during a November 30, 2006, forum hosted by the Hudson Institute titled "How Vast the Left Wing Conspiracy?":
STEIN: It's very important to understand that the Alliance does not take in any money to distribute to groups. The money we take in pays our administrative costs. We are not a 501(c)(3). We are a taxable nonprofit organization. We recommend to our partners, and our partners then make decisions which organizations to support, and they are fully informed -- we have very good counsel -- of all the legal requirements of disclosure and limitations that come with supporting any of those types of vehicles.
The Washington Post reported on July 17, 2006, that the Democracy Alliance "endorse[s]" specific organizations and serves as a "cooperative for donors, allowing them to coordinate their giving so that it has more influence."
While Soros is identified as a member of the Democracy Alliance, he has never given money to Media Matters through the alliance or otherwise.