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Here's where media owners gave their political donations

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Something we can likely all agree on is that trust in media is at an all-time low and Americans want reliable, nonpartisan news.

Spurred by the rapid proliferation of social media platforms, with questionable content, and a former president who pummeled our free press repeatedly, it’s no wonder Americans are left wary and our information ecosystem is in shambles.

Add to that the billions of dollars from super PACs used to fund political content pushed by new digital channels and influencers. It’s a mess.

In May, I published an ownership index of the top 176 U.S. media organizations. The index was more popular than anticipated. Why? Transparency matters. Transparency is what journalists and journalism have long been about. Journalism is not meant to be public relations for political parties. It is intended to be the backbone of our civilization and functioning governance.

Sure, Henry Luce, the iconic publisher of Time, Fortune and Life magazines, put his thumb on the scale. His well-documented views were not secret. Even his wife, Clare Boothe Luce, herself a Republican member of Congress, chastised him publicly for his relentless coverage in Time of Barry Goldwater’s GOP nomination for president.

I wrote about why I got a COVID shot:Then I was fired from my job.

Media mogul William Randolph Hearst famously declared, “This is my newspaper, these are my views, take or leave it.” Hearst boldly placed his editorials on the front page, with his picture, signed “for God’s sake.” There was no subterfuge.

We now live in a much less transparent time. This summer, students from Tufts and Harvard universities spent time digging through the Federal Election Commission database with me. Using the original ownership index, we tracked the political donations at 90 of the top U.S. news organizations.

The results were surprising. Only 14.5% of the 412 owners, executives, board members and investors had given to individual candidates, traditional PACs or super PACs from January 2020 to August 2021, as tracked by the FEC. Super PACs have the freedom to report only twice a year, so there may be more to come.

Only 60 people in media leadership had donated more than $2,000........


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