By Adam Andrzejewski
Elon Musk’s deal to buy Twitter for $44 billion has 26 activist and progressive policy organizations urging the platform’s advertisers to demand that Musk do as they say or face an advertising boycott.
But some of these groups have benefited from our tax dollars while critics say they try to limit free speech and control the flow of information on Twitter.
Those 26 organizations penned a letter at the beginning of May when they heard the Tesla Motors CEO was buying the social media company that banned then-President Donald Trump.
They urged Twitter’s advertisers to push back against Musk’s plans to reverse Trump’s ban, among other things.
In recent years, those activist organizations collectively received about $10.5 million in federal funds – mostly pandemic aid in FY2020.
They’ll happily take public dollars while they work to weaken the public square, critics say.
The news of Elon Musk buying Twitter set progressive groups, politicians and even journalists into a frenzy, fearful that his crusade to protect free speech would mean giving a platform to people they seek to silence.
The groups called Musk’s takeover “a direct threat to public safety” in urging advertisers to uphold Twitter’s current content policies. Critics say these policies ban or penalize mostly users with a center-right perspective or investigations of the left.
For example, Twitter suspended the New York Post’s account when the newspaper reported on Hunter Biden’s overseas business dealings ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
Musk called Twitter’s Post suspension “obviously incredibly inappropriate” and said he also planned to reverse the Trump ban.
It’s that attitude toward censorship that has progressives in a tizzy.
“Musk intends to steamroll those safeguards and provide a megaphone to extremists who traffic in disinformation, hate, and harassment,” the letter states. “Under the guise of ‘free speech,’ his vision will silence and endanger marginalized communities, and tear at the fraying fabric of democracy.”
So who are these organizations and who funds them?
That’s a question that Musk asked in a tweet — “Who funds these organizations that want to control your access to information? Let’s investigate …”
The Daily Mail wrote an article that answered it: some are non-government organizations (NGOs) founded by former staffers of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, others are funded by George Soros's Open Society Foundation, wealthy Democrat donors and their family foundations, labor unions and the governments of European nations.
Musk also tweeted “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”
We agree, so OpenTheBooks.com got to work. We searched federal spending to find that nine of the 26 organizations collected about $10.5 million in federal funds over the past few years.
Black Lives Matter was one of them, receiving $19,000 in grants from the Small Business Administration in 2020 and $11,300 in forgivable SBA loans in 2020. However, the organization was collecting these funds at the same time that some of their leaders were encouraging protests that looted small businesses.
The other organizations that received federal funding are:
Friends of the Earth - $1.2 million grant in 2020
GLAAD - $7,650 grants in 2019 and 2020 and $2 million in forgivable loans from the SBA in 2020 and 2021
Media Matters for America - $1.1 million forgivable SBA loan in 2020
MediaJustice (formerly Center for Media Justice) - $210,255 forgivable SBA loan in 2020
NARAL Pro-Choice America - $936,350 forgivable SBA loan in 2020
National Hispanic Media Coalition - $194,789 in two forgivable SBA loans in 2020 and 2021
Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice - $195,722 in three forgivable SBA loans in 2020 and 2021
Union of Concerned Scientists - $4.5 million in a forgivable SBA loan in 2020
In their letter to advertisers, these organizations claim, “Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter will further toxify our information ecosystem.”
What’s toxic is “an assortment of dark money groups,” as The Daily Mail described them, insisting that advertisers boycott Musk’s more free and open Twitter.
“Your ad dollars can either fund Musk's vanity project or hold him to account,” the letter states. “We call on you to demand Musk uphold these basic standards of community trust and safety, and to pull your advertising spending from Twitter if they are not.”
About the author
Adam Andrzejewski (say: And-g-f-ski) is the CEO/founder of OpenTheBooks.com. Last year we filed 47,000 FOIA requests and captured $12 trillion in government spending (2021). Work featured at The BBC; Good Morning America; ABC World News Tonight; USA Today; The Wall Street Journal; Forbes; and The New York Times. My presentation to the Hillsdale College National Leadership seminar posted on YouTube has 3.7 million views. Learn more at OpenTheBooks.com.