The group that runs the prominent fact-checking site PolitiFact is using money from Left-leaning activists to pay journalists “grants” of $10,000 or more to write about “extremism,” “anti-transgender groups,” and the successes of Joe Biden’s budget-busting American Rescue Plan.
The Poynter Institute, which holds itself out as a nonpartisan group of journalism experts, is using money from the Joyce Foundation, the Gill Foundation, and the Catena Foundation to fund classes for journalists across the country guiding them on how to cover topics such as “climate change” and “transgender medical care.” Some participants will then be paid grants, bankrolled by activist foundations, to write about certain topics for their employers.
Almost all the Beat Academy classes have an apparent political bias, often mirroring the activism of the funders. On February 1, for example, participants in the “Extremist Politics” session will “learn how to background candidates for extremist ties,” including on “school boards.” They will “gain access to extremism resources and researchers.”
Three participants will be awarded “$10,000 reporting grants” to write about “extremism.”
The next session on February 29 trains journalists to write articles criticizing Joe Biden from the left, saying, “Biden promised to make life better in disadvantaged and marginalized communities by targeting them with billions of dollars tied to climate change, affordable housing… and more. Is it working?” The panelists will explain “the forces and factors that eased and impeded the ability of deserving communities to access these funds.”
Two journalists will be paid a total of $20,000 to write articles heralding the successes of Biden’s massive spending package the American Rescue Plan: “Enrollees can apply for one of two $10,000 reporting grants to capture how certain communities have used the funds to good effect.”
One of the foundations behind the journalism-for-hire program, the Joyce Foundation, “invest[s] in evidence-informed public policies and strategies to advance racial equity.” Vice President Kamala Harris defines “equity” as the radical idea of forced equal outcomes, where “we all end up in the same place.”
The funds will be used to give journalists a “generous travel grant” and room and board to take 25 journalists on a group trip to the southern border to focus on, “How domestic labor demand and politically-driven immigrant busing expose flaws in the system.”
They will “see how the Texas busing program exposes the weak spots in the legal immigration system” and be steered to write stories saying businesses crave illegal immigrants by teaching them how to “identify the industries and employers who are seeking immigrant workers in your area.”
In April, journalists will be taking a subsidized class on “transgender coverage,” “Mapping out the landscape of anti-transgender groups and their funders.”
“Enrollees can apply for one of three reporting grants of $10,000-$15,000 to explore how the transgender debate has touched lives in their area,” Poynter said.
The program is funded in part by the Gill Foundation, a gay activist group dedicated to shaping state policies.
In July, a “voting systems” class “expands on our webinars on extremism” to “get the latest on election worker threats” and “zero in on the new rules in your state that might expand or limit the ease of casting a ballot.”
The last session focuses on convincing all local reporters to inject “climate change” into their coverage. “There is no facet of our lives that doesn’t overlap with climate change. People worry about AI run amok; it’s also a major energy hog. The value of your home could take a hit due to updated flooding maps. The fashion industry is responsible for 8-10% of global emissions. General assignment and beat reporters alike: There’s a climate change story waiting for you,” the description says.
The program is designed to cheerlead the effect of government programs, with Poynter advertising it as “the perfect complement to our earlier Beat Academy session on the impact of federal climate and energy programs on disadvantaged communities.”
Only the panelists on “extremist politics” are listed, but they consist almost exclusively of leftist activist reporters.
“Robert Downen is a reporter covering democracy and the threats to it, including extremism, disinformation and conspiracies,” one bio says.
Another panelist, Jennifer Dresden, “is a Policy Strategist at Protect Democracy,” an advocacy group that sues conservative journalists, including Project Veritas, One America News, and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza.
Protect Democracy says that “right-wing and far-right violence ranked highest among experts’ concern,” and that it “uses the tools of strategic litigation and public education to counteract those who intentionally or recklessly spread false information that undermines our democracy.” It advocates for “securing accountability for the January 6th Insurrection.”
A third extremism panelist, Christopher Jones, was “a reporter for 100 Days in Appalachia where, as a digital and forensic reporter, he focuses on white supremacists and their disinformation campaigns.” Jones wrote that “far right extremists have penetrated law enforcement,” that Ben Shapiro is “alt-right” and promotes fascism, and that Antifa should not be compared to right-wing “extremist” groups because there was “no such threat” of “violent far-left activists” and “no one has ever been charged with or convicted of a terrorist act on behalf of antifa.”
“During the 2016 election cycle and the ascension of Donald Trump, public displays of racism and fascist rhetoric that had caused the 1980s antifa movement emerged once again,” he wrote, while promoting the misinformation that he “watched as Brian Sicknick, a Capitol Police officer, was beaten to death with flagpoles with American flags affixed to them.”
Although Poynter was originally founded to support journalists, it has since aligned with the “disinformation” industry that tries to discredit media outlets that report things other than government-approved storylines.
One of the funders of the Beat Academy and grants, the Catena Foundation — tied to Sam R. Walton, the son of Walmart’s founder — bankrolled the Global Disinformation Index, a notorious British project that accepted money from the U.S. government and put mainstream center-right publications like Reason Magazine and the New York Post on a list that was used to try to bankrupt the companies by dissuading advertisers from doing business with them. (The Daily Wire is suing the State Department for allegedly funding tools used for domestic censorship.)
Jon Greenberg, a former PolitiFact writer who leads the Beat Academy, said Poynter is a “nonpartisan organization that trains journalists” and declined to share any Beat Academy classroom materials or lesson plans with The Daily Wire.