Bernie’s Billionaire: How the Richest Man in Hawaii Funds Bernie’s PR and Opposition Research
And what does the Soros ally expect in return?
Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.
If there’s one thing everyone knows about Senator Bernie Sanders, it’s that he hates billionaires.
Now a newly minted millionaire and member of the 1%, Sanders reserves all his old hatred for millionaires, exclusively for billionaires.
Billionaires shouldn’t exist, he insists.
And while Bernie virtue signals about not having a PAC or taking money from billionaires, a big chunk of his media operation is financed by Pierre Omidyar, the founder of eBay, and the richest man in Hawaii.
Omidyar, a Franco-Persian who lives in Hawaii, pledged $250 million to First Look Media. FLM’s signature project is The Intercept, a radical leftist, anti-American, and anti-Semitic media hate site.
And The Intercept has a clear and definite candidate in the 2020 race.
The Intercept’s election coverage is filled with hysterical Sanders cheerleading, recent samples include, "The Power of Solidarity Is How Sanders Will Beat Trump", "At Iowa Debate, Bernie Sanders's Biggest Opponent Was CNN", and "Bernie Sanders's Secret to Attracting Latino Support."
But, more significantly, The Intercept acts as the opposition research arm of the Sanders campaign.
Its stories about Bernie Sanders are universally gushing, but its stories about the other candidates are undisguised hit pieces, passed off as journalistic investigations that are recirculated by the media. That includes recent stories about Bloomberg’s plagiarized campaign material and prison labor.
The technical term for this is opposition research.
The difference between journalism and opposition research is motive. Journalists follow a story where it goes. Opposition researchers are out to help a particular campaign win by damaging their opponents.
And there’s no ambiguity about what motivates The Intercept’s hit pieces about politicians like Buttigieg that the tech billionaire’s pet radical site had never bothered slinging mud at until now.
This opposition research financed by a tech tycoon who is the wealthiest man in Hawaii is then retweeted by the Sanders campaign account, staffers, surrogates, allies and assorted Bernie Bros.
Beyond the assembly line of hit pieces on Buttigieg, "Pete Buttigieg's Mostly White Mayoral Cabinet", "Pete Buttigieg Dodges Questions on Black Marijuana Arrests", and "Buttigieg Used Mechanical Turk Workers for Polling", or Klobuchar, "Amy Klobuchar Defended Prosecutions of Khat Possession", "Sen. Amy Klobuchar Sought Earmark for Anti-LGBT Ministry", and "2020 Candidate Amy Klobuchar Pushes Bill to Fund Police", is The Intercept’s role as the conspiracy theory spin room for the Sanders campaign.
The Intercept hysterically pushed claims that Sanders was winning in Iowa, and when victory failed to materialize turned to spreading conspiracy theories meant to prop up the lie that Sanders had won. It’s now already preparing the ground for a brokered convention with multiple stories attacking the legitimacy of a process that risks denying its chosen candidate the 2020 Democrat nomination.
Billionaires funding political sites that support their views is just politics. But the closeness between the Sanders campaign and a billionaire’s hate site that supplies him with PR and opposition research ought to be discussed, especially in light of the millionaire socialist’s posturing about his hatred for billionaires.
The Intercept doesn’t just happen to supply content that the Sanders campaign finds useful.
Briahna Joy Gray, Bernie's National Press Secretary, was the senior politics editor for The Intercept. Gray was hired by the tech billionaire's site after becoming a vocal supporter of Sanders in 2016. When the campaign officially hired her, she stated that, "It was the progressive vision embodied by Sanders' 2016 campaign that sparked my writing career." Her final article was, “Bernie Sanders Asks the Right Question on Reparations.” Next month, she was officially working for the Bernie Sanders campaign.
The Intercept has a very clear political identity. But it’s also the media arm of a movement bent on electing and promoting lefty candidates. And nobody asks who is financing all of it and why.
Pierre Omidyar, the richest man in Hawaii, has spent a fortune on The Intercept. He’s also a major donor to Soros’ Open Society Foundation. Not coincidentally, The Intercept has vigorously defended Soros. The site, whose hatred of the Jewish State frequently verges on anti-Semitism, and whose co-founding editor, Glenn Greenwald, had defended Hamas and Hezbollah, accused Soros critics of anti-Semitism.
At a time when digital media is running out of money, The Intercept is awash in the stuff while being extremely unprofitable. With only $156,857 in revenues, Greenwald was making over half-a-million a year. Nearly $10 million was spent on salaries in one year.
These are not normal numbers in journalism, but they are for influence operations.
One obvious difference between journalism and an influence operation is cyberwarfare. Greenwald was recently charged with cybercrimes in Brazil for allegedly coordinating with hackers to undermine an investigation into the corruption by the country’s former left-wing government. The Intercept has made use of stolen emails and messages to target political opponents, including Elliott Broidy, the former RNC finance chair and Trump ally, whose emails were hacked by Qatari agents.
The Qatari connection is not incidental. The Intercept acts as a mouthpiece for the wealthy terror state.
Beyond its anti-American and anti-Israel politics, The Intercept has very transparently waged an informational campaign against the UAE on behalf of Qatar backed by hacks and cyberwarfare.
Headlines like, "UAE Ambassador Yousef al Otaiba's Sordid Double Life", "Leaked Document Outlines Plan for UAE Financial War", and ironically, "Think Tanks Take UAE Money To Push Dictatorship's Agenda", make that all too plain. The Otaiba story was, predictably, the work of Qatari hackers.
The Intercept's Qatari stories read like straightforward regime propaganda, "Leaked Documents Expose Stunning Plan to Wage Financial War on Qatar - And Steal the World Cup", "At Neocon Think Tank Steve Bannon Bashes Qatar and Praises Saudi Arabia", and, "Saudi Arabia Planned to Invade Qatar Last Summer, Rex Tillerson's Efforts to Stop It May Have Cost Him His Job."
This sort of stuff makes RT, Xinhau and even Al Jazeera seem subtle and understated. Foreign influence operation sites have been forced to register as foreign agents even when they were more discreet.
Why was The Intercept pushing foreign influence operations in this country? Ask its funder.
Pierre Omidyar provided $87 million of The Intercept’s $90 million in funding. Despite the claims of editorial independence, of which there is no sign in the party line publication, it’s his baby.
And that amounts to a media shop for the Sanders campaign that’s worth tens of millions of dollars.
The Sanders campaign shares a media shop with Qatar. It’s funded by a tech tycoon who has spent a good deal of money to influence political outcomes in this country, using the façade of journalism.
These are question worth asking. It’s a shame that no one is.
Bernie Sanders claims that billionaires have too much influence over this country’s political system. Yet he hired the political director of a billionaire’s pet political organization and his accounts tweet opposition research from that same organization. And, just as with his houses and his 1% status, he can’t have it both ways. If he really thinks billionaires have too much power, he should disavow The Intercept.
But he can’t and won’t.
The official Sanders campaign, with its shrill claims that it is financed by small donors, is a front. Not only are those small donors coming from the wealthiest zip codes in America, but the campaign is the tip of a much larger political iceberg of non-profits that form a far bigger movement than the campaign.
Bernie Sanders doesn’t need a PAC. He doesn’t need to do fundraisers with billionaires. The millionaire socialist benefits from a much more sophisticated infrastructure that actively promotes his campaign while targeting his rivals. Its operating cost far outweighs the PAC spending of other candidates.
The Intercept and the shadowy motives of its backer is one example. It is far from alone. And the people with the money to fund these massive networks, like Omidyar or Soros, have to be billionaires.
Nobody asks Bernie about them. No one talks about what they might want from his administration.