Doing well by doing the bidding of the left (updated)

American Thinker has long harbored suspicion about ProPublica, a nonprofit investigative journalism outfit that distributes its work to newspaper gratis. The organization has found a hearty welcome in the precincts of the leftist mainstream of American journalism, even sharing a Pulitzer Prize with the New York Times in 2010.

ProPublica was funded by large donations from Herbert and Marion Sandler, close associates in philanthropy to George Soros and Peter Lewis, and other progressive moneybags. One of ProPublica's foci has been investigation of the downsides of domestic energy production, especially shale gas, with which America is abundantly endowed.  The organization proclaims itself a "public interest" organization, and produces some non-political journalism as well as material that serves an agenda.

ProPublica's 2009 required IRS Form 990 filing (published by ProPublica itself) reveals that the top staff at ProPublica are paid very well, indeed. Media Bistro looked at the form, and revealed:

    • Paul Steiger, president and editor in chief, made $571,687 in salary, plus $13,430 in other compensation.
    • Richard Tofel, treasurer and secretary, made $320,978 in salary, plus $21,312 in other compensation.
    • Stephen Engelberg, managing editor, made $343,463, plus $31,231 in other compensation.
    • Dafna Linzer, senior reporter, made $205,455, plus $20,421 in other compensation.
    • Susan White, senior editor, made $160,011, plus $18,063 in other compensation.
    • Tracy Weber, senior reporter, made $176,309, plus $21,243 in other compensation.
    • Charles Ornstein, senior reporter, made $172,287, plus $26,805 in other compensation.
    • Thomas Miller, senior reporter, made $186,479, plus $28,676 in other compensation.
Even more interesting to me is that Herbert Sandler, the Chairman, spends an average of 2 hours a week working on ProPublica affairs (unpaid). That is a relatively high level of activity, one that surely would involve Mr. Sandler in something resembling a supervisory role. ProPublica has no endowment, you see, and must keep its donors happy in order to survive.

When news of these salaries seeps out into newsrooms across America, there will surely be a lot of jealousy in the air. Reporters are notoriously poorly paid.

Hat tip: Mark Fizgibbons


Steve Gilbert of Sweetness & Light points to some of the other left groups funded by the Sandlers:

Here is how the Sandlers got started on their career of bankrolling radical left fronts, according to the bio, "Her Way: The Hopes and Ambitions of Hillary Rodham Clinton," by the New York Times reporters Jeff Gerth and Don van Natta, Jr., pp 313-14:

The War Room

Just as 1992's election inspired conservatives like Scaife to get involved, the 2000 election was a wake-up call to some wealthy liberals about the reach and influence of the other side's information infrastructure. One of those who responded was Herb Sandler, who, in concert with his wife, Marion, is an enthusiastic supporter of left-leaning causes. At the time, the Sandlers ran World Savings, one of the nation's leading savings and loans. Sandler was determined to create an ideological counterweight to conservative think tanks like the Heritage Foundation. From their base in Oakland, California, the couple tried to apply tough-minded business-management techniques to progressive philanthropy.

[John Podesta, the last chief of staff to President Clinton] agreed to head up the new entity, and Sandler became the organization's largest donor. Another billionaire supporter of leftist causes, George Soros, also kicked in financial support.

The new tax-exempt group opened its doors in downtown Washington in 2003 as the Center for American Progress...

Herb and Marion Sandler have gone on to fund a large number of other hard left front groups, including Media Matters for America, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), and Air America.

And, lest we forget, the Sandlers are such proponents of free speech that they threatened to sue NBC for using their names in a sketch about the bank bailout. (Needless to say, NBC immediately capitulated and cut them out of every surviving clip of the sketch.)