“Freedom” of your press corresponds to your country’s relationship to NATO

Thomas Roemer investigates funding of Reporters without borders

Reporters Without Borders map of "Press Freedom
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AntiSpiegel

An incredulous Anti-Spiegel reader inquired why Reporters without Borders placed Russia 148th in the world in Freedom of the Press. We translate from the German…

I’d never gotten involved with Reporters Without Borders (RWB), so I wanted to reply at first that I can not comment. Then I researched only a few minutes and found that this is a very exciting topic.

Whenever I want to find out about an organization, I always look first at who finances it. And if that has been your habit, over time, you know the most interesting financiers. And so, after just a minute of research, I found out that the Reporters Without Borders are funded by Soros, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the French state, and other state sponsors. It was clear to me right then how to classify the RWB. And that’s what I want to show:

Who finances it?
How do they work?
How and by what criteria do they create their ranking of press freedom, in which, for example, Germany is at the top and Russia at the bottom?

 

They rate themselves. IN RWB’s own words: “Reporters Without Borders has sent a comprehensive questionnaire to hundreds of experts on every continent, including its own network of correspondents, representatives of partner organizations and journalists, academics, lawyers and human rights activists. However, this is not a representative survey based on scientific criteria.”

The hardest question is the question of funding. The word “transparency” is incredibly often found on the RWG site, but the organization is completely non-transparent, especially when it comes to who finances it. The annual report of the German section of the RWB lists the income on page 28. Of a total of 1.5 million, 632,000 came from donations. But you can not see who donated how much. In addition, there are 600,000 from the German state (Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation) and 180,000 from membership fees, although it is not clear who paid how much. This means that 40% of the funding is from the German state and another 55% of the money is from you don’t know who. There is an indication on page 31 of the annual report, where the supporters for projects are mentioned and that is a Who’s Who list of German media companies.

With the umbrella organization of the RWB in France, the transparency does not look any better. Here it is also concealed about who paid how much.

In the annual report on page 26, there are at least the sponsors’ logos. These include the EU, a fund set up by the French government, the Swedish Development Cooperation Agency, a fund owned by the Ebay founder or the Adessium fund. About Adessium there is little to learn, the fund is committed in its own words for an “open society” (i.e, Soros) and seems to receive half of its money from the Dutch state and half from other EU countries. Obviously, the Reporters Without Borders are living massively on the subject of state support from various channels and not donations.

That has always seemed like that, because the few reports of their funding that can be found always showed the same picture. Interestingly, their funding does show up at all in the mainstream media, but some alternative media have reported on it from time to time, in which the NED has been repeatedly cited as a sponsor. The NED, for those who do not know it, was founded under Ronald Reagan and since then has been doing “what the CIA used to do,” as founder Weinstein once said in an interview. The NED is funded by the US Department of State and is designed to bring “democracy” into the world by promoting forces in other countries to make a US-friendly policy.

I have published a detailed analysis here about NGOs such as the NED. Even Soros, who is considered by the media as a fighter for an “open society,” general prosperity, and democracy, has in fact just the opposite in mind. He is concerned with the profits of his mutual funds, and because he invests heavily in currencies and government bonds, he secures through his “charitable” foundations the political influence he needs to make his investments profitable. A classic example was the Ukraine 2014, which stood which stood face-to-face with state bankruptcy. Soros, who had invested billions in Ukrainian government bonds, was drumming in the EU for financial aid to prevent the state’s bankruptcy. Then his investment would have become worthless, but in the media was nothing of it, as it was reported how Soros is unselfishly committed to the rescue of Ukraine.

In the EU too, Soros is not fighting for more democracy, but for the transfer of more and more powers to Brussels, where they are largely deprived of democratic control, but where he can exert greater influence over EU officials through lobbying, such as said they are not subject to democratic control. This could be clearly seen again recently in the course of the EU election campaign.

Reporters Without Borders are officially campaigning for press freedom, meaning that the state should not hinder the press. We may question how credible such a commitment is, if the RWB is financed for the most part openly, or deviously, by states. Their financing comes from the states of the EU and the USA, i.e, from the states in NATO. And unsurprisingly, the RWB then have little to criticize with their donors. Not a critical word about the growing restrictions of the Internet in the EU and the US. I deliberately registered a Russian domain for my site because there is much less regulation of the internet in Russia than in the EU. Sounds incredible, but it is. So we can say that the RWGs are mainly funded by NATO countries and Soros.

Now let us turn to the question of how they create their ranking of press freedom. One should think that there should be clear rules for such a ranking, objective criteria. For example, how many journalists in a country are in jail or have lost their jobs because of “uncomfortable” reports, etc. The RWB report on such cases, but they are not included in the ranking. The “Ranking of press freedom” is created exclusively via a questionnaire. The reporters without borders write this themselves:

“Reporters Without Borders has sent a comprehensive questionnaire to hundreds of experts on every continent, including its own network of correspondents, representatives of partner organizations and journalists, academics, lawyers and human rights activists. However, this is not a representative survey based on scientific criteria.”

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So it is by no means a survey based on scientific or representative criteria, that’s what the RWB itself says openly. I’ve never read that in the press, when every year the report is published again and the Western press uses this ranking to scold states like Russia and others. The ranking is therefore the result of a questionnaire that ROG sends to “experts” and “their own network”.

Who these experts are will not be published. But the “own network” is particularly noteworthy: it means that they ask their own people and partners, since the answers are predictable. In the case of Germany, we have already seen that all media companies donate to the German RWB. The RWB Board of Trustees in Germany also includes the Who’s Who of German mainstream media: The director of ZDF, the editor-in-chief of Spiegel, the head of the editorial network Germany of the media group Madsack, the editor-in-chief of Die Zeit, the head of research cooperation by NDR, WDR and Süddeutsche Zeitung, the editor-in-chief of the Tagesspiegel, the editor of the Frankfurter Rundschau, the editor of Stern, the editor-in-chief of the central editorial office of the Funke Media Group, the director of the RBB, the chairman of the ARD and director of the MDR, and so on. This means that the RWBs in Germany are financed by the state, the media corporations, and non-named donors, and that their board of trustees also includes the same representatives: directors of the state broadcasters and executives of the media groups.

And they all find that there is no problem with press freedom in Germany. Let’s just guess who in Germany are the “experts” and “your own network” who answer the questionnaire every year? The Reporters Without Borders seem to let their own members and their sponsors decide how the freedom of the press stands in Germany and are paid at least 40% by the German state, which has also placed its people in the RWB board of trustees via the state broadcasters.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has submitted several complaints to the OSCE regarding restrictions on press freedom in Germany and France. It concerns the withdrawal of the radio license for Radio Sputnik in Berlin, it concerns the new legal restrictions on freedom of the Press during election campaigns in France, and pressure of the French government on private French media, which want to work together with Russian media.

With such a combination can anyone guess what result such a questionnaire may bring? The RWB can not say anything else for Germany, other than it’s all just great because they are paid and directed by those who want that result. Since the RWB are financed by the states of NATO and run by their representatives, it is to be expected that the RWB report to us that with the press freedom in the West everything is fine and in the countries that NATO has defined as opponents, everything is very bad.

And indeed, according to the press freedom ranking in North America, Europe and Australia, everything is fine. It also looks pretty good in the South American countries, which are on the side of the United States. The South American countries that criticize the United States get bad scores from the RWG. The only noteworthy exception is Saudi Arabia, where it would probably be too bold to declare the country has a functioning freedom of the press. But otherwise, the map of global press freedom looks much like the map of NATO’s political relations, which is not surprising considering the funding of RWB.

Since the Reporters Without Borders are completely financed and directed by the NATO states and even explicitly state that their “ranking of the press freedom” does not meet any scientific or even representative standards, one must ask oneself why then does the Western Press report on them so intensely and uncritically, and why this ranking is used again and again as evidence for or against certain states. But since the Western press is involved even in RWB, the question again is unnecessary. In no country in the world does the press say about itself that it is unfree. Then she would lose all readers because no one would believe them anymore if they admit to themselves that they are unfree.

Regardless of how free or unfree the press is in Germany, if they can represent themselves as rating “very good” via the RWB, self-praise is not an objective assessment. The RWB are just another instrument of the Western “propaganda machine” that the western states and the Western media themselves have created, which they finance and run themselves, and which they then can draw on at any time as a “neutral” confirmation of their political agenda and their “good work.”

As a result, Reporters Without Borders falls into the same category as Bellingcat, or the one-man “Syrian Observatory for Human Rights,” which is also funded by the NATO states and yet is cited time and again as a “neutral” source. Details about these two “neutral” revelation platforms can be found here.

This model is becoming more and more a standard. The “Independent Journalist Network Corrective,” as it is called in the German press, is often used as a further source for “neutral and critical” confirmations of the German media. The IJNC, however, is also an organization founded, managed and financed entirely by the media corporations. So the media have created a plethora of organizations that they control themselves, and which then certify if necessary that they report correctly in everything.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has submitted several complaints to the OSCE regarding restrictions on press freedom in Germany and France. It concerns the withdrawal of the radio license for Radio Sputnik in Berlin, it concerns the new legal restrictions on freedom of the Press during election campaigns in France, and pressure of the French government on private French media, which want to work together with Russian media.

If Moscow were to interfere with the work of Deutsche Welle, the BBC or the American Radio Liberty, the reporters without borders would surely be rid of the devil and many of their “experts” would write even worse about Russia in the questionnaire.

Freedom of the press is only important for the RWB if it concerns Western or at least pro-Western media. The organization does not say a word about the obstruction of non-Western media. Thus Western countries and their press control self-founded, funded, and managed organizations like RWB, which is freedom of the press for them. One controls oneself, but gives the impression that neutral organizations exercise control.

Would we allow the chemical industry to start and finance organizations that then decide which chemicals are harmless? Hardly likely. But with the media, we allow them to virtually control themselves.

Is that really freedom of the press?

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