Pope Foundation responds to ‘unfair attack’ from Bill Moyers

Some public television viewers will watch a new documentary from former LBJ public relations flak Bill Moyers. The Pope Foundation takes issue with Moyers’ latest spin-doctor efforts, as discussed in this statement from Executive Vice President David Riggs.

Bill Moyers, through Moyers & Company, recently released a documentary titled “State of Conflict: North Carolina.” Broadcast through the PBS network on Jan. 3, the one-hour program falsely portrayed the charitable work of the John William Pope Foundation and of our Chairman and President, Art Pope.

“State of Conflict: North Carolina” repeated the false claim that Art Pope and the Pope Foundation “bought” the state of North Carolina, mostly through giving to public policy nonprofits that advocate for common sense free-market reforms. Mr. Moyers presented nothing new in his documentary — in fact, he’s late to the party. Many left-wing operatives have hurled similar accusations for years. The claims have never stuck because they are entirely false.

But Mr. Moyers doesn’t merely repeat a falsehood. Worse, he conceals the fact that the Pope Foundation is not the largest grantor to public policy groups in North Carolina. While the Pope Foundation gives around $5 million to conservative, free-market organizations in North Carolina each year, that number pales in comparison to the $11 million given annually by left-wing foundations to progressive groups in the Tar Heel State.

In 2011 alone, three progressive foundations gave generously to left-of-center, liberal groups in North Carolina: The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation ($9.2 million in grants), the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation ($614,000 in grants), and the A.J. Fletcher Foundation ($968,000 in grants).

If North Carolina can indeed be bought, as Mr. Moyers and his allies claim, then shouldn’t it go to the highest bidder, the side that spent the most money?

At the very least, journalistic integrity would require Mr. Moyers to present a complete picture of the philanthropic landscape in North Carolina. The fact that he ignored giving to liberal causes by the Reynolds Foundation and other philanthropies shows his bias and unreliability.

Ironically, Mr. Moyers not only conceals spending by progressive foundations in North Carolina, but he also is Chairman Emeritus of the Schumann Media Center, a philanthropy that made almost $2 million in grants to left-of-center nonprofits in 2011. Eighty-five percent of the Schumann Center’s grant making is to groups that promote a liberal agenda. Given those facts, for Mr. Moyers to criticize the Pope Foundation for making grants to free-market groups is the epitome of hypocrisy.

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