Happy Holidays, everyone! It's the most wonderful time of the year, Form-990 season!
Yes, it's that wonderful annual occurrence, when the IRS disclosure form fairy delivers paperwork from the year prior, and grateful journalists everywhere can connect the billionaires funding disinformation to some of their lackeys doing the dirty work.
And this week, the Daily Beast's Roger Sollenberger gave us a lovely gift: the Daily Caller News Foundation's 2021 990 form!
Tucked in there is news that Tucker Carlson's 2020 announcement that he was leaving his
journalism propaganda outfit was, like everything else he ever says, a lie. According to the filing, even though he claimed to have quit the Daily Caller to focus on his Fox News show, in 2021 Carlson "continued to hold the chairman position and put in the same hours as in all previous foundation filings—five hours a week."
But Carlson's grueling 1-hour-a-day schedule overseeing his very legitimate media outlet is hardly the only good tidbit. Because it turns out the filing "includes for the first time a list of donors to the 501(c)(3) organization, a group that is not required by law to disclose donor information."
Sollenberger notes that while "many of the foundation’s donors are tied to industries and issues that the Caller covers frequently," the "Most notable is the Ariel Corporation, which manufactures natural gas compressors and gave $135,000 to support the news organization—which has for years been criticized for its pro-carbon energy reporting and financial ties to the Koch brothers, the right-wing industrialists."
What a coincidence, the fossil fuel industry donates to the fossil fuel-friendly website! And this can only be described as an incredible coincidence, because suggesting otherwise would be alleging that the Daily Caller is basically guilty of payola.
Oh but don't worry, it's not just lavishing praise on fossil fuels. It's also getting donations from the groups greenwashing the GOP to make Republicans appear less in love with fossil fuels, as it "received financial backing from conservative green-energy group ClearPath Action, which gave $10,000 in 2021." And, again in what is surely a total and complete coincidence, Sollenberger reports that:
“ClearPath has received favorable coverage from the Daily Caller, which earlier this year cited CEO Rich Powell in an article about his group, without a disclaimer. When Powell landed a Daily Caller op-ed earlier this month, the outlet added a note to the piece and his contributor page that read, “The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.” But those notes did not mention the financial relationship.”
Not a huge donation from ClearPath, but they're small fish, and "An even more influential GOP figure also appears in the filing." Among the donors Sollenberger found is "CRC Advisors, a group headed up by arch-conservative megadonor and judicial activist Leonard Leo," who recently gave that billion dollar donation and is pushing the anti-ESG campaign.
And as Sollenberger notes, the outlet covers CRC quite favorably, as "The Daily Caller published a piece on Friday based on the results of a CRC poll, without disclosing the relationship." And there's apparently a revolving door between the two shops, as "the two groups also show overlap in their employees, including current CRC vice president Kevin Daley, whose LinkedIn page says he left the Daily Caller in 2020 after four years as a reporter."
Another Caller donor is Power the Future, which now "appears frequently enough in the Daily Caller that articles about the group have their own tag on the site" and whose "Executive Director Daniel Turner has been cited in multiple Daily Caller pieces as an expert voice." Again, those pieces had "no mention of his status as a foundation donor," definitely by accident because of poor editorial oversight as a result of hiring a Koch-trained operative as a managing editor.
Unfortunately, the biggest donation "is still unknown" as $400,000 came from DonorsTrust, the group the Koch network established to mask donations for essentially this very purpose. Another $300,000 came from "anonymous," which probably was not the mask-wearing hackers.
Maybe someday we'll find out the true identities of the Daily Caller's $700,000 backers, but those not inclined to wait on miracles might also try just looking at who's getting praised in the Caller’s "reporting."