Are You Used By 21st Century Robber Barons?

By Cathy Travis, 25 year Capitol Hill veteran

Author, Constitution Translated for Kids

Are you manipulated by billionaires for their financial benefit?

Billionaires have co-opted many patriots in this country by creating fake news sites that good people believe and share.

Billionaire corporations have co-opted more functions of government since the late 1990s/early 2000s, convincing government to pay them to do the same work (in defense, homeland security, energy, health, etc.)

That lets Congress give the illusion that government is “smaller” - while making it more expensive to taxpayers, lucrative to billionaires, and less accountable to taxpayers and elected representatives. 

With a gigantic financial stake in the operations of government, billionaires need a mass audience to support their corporate view.  The proliferation ofnot-news sites spawned a new word:  astroturfing – masking the sponsors of a message.

To see if an organization is weighted politically, see how they get their money.  Usually the “about” page on a website will hint at it.  When billionaires are behind it, it never mentions it.

There are billionaires on the political left and right, contributing directly to candidates.  Many, many more are on the political right, hidden from public view (by the Supreme Court), lurking behind not-news sites to manipulate people.

Here’s a quick sampling of news and not-news sites; plus their longevity, political affiliations, and credibility (based on who pays the bills.) Hint: when they are brand new and they don’t say who’s paying them, billionaires and their corporations pay for them.

The explosion of crappy research about issues, are the tools of billionaires to manipulate people … people whose confidence they win by miming support on social issues (gays, guns, and abortion).  Given that commonality on social issues, billionaires manipulate people into believing their economic and political crap.

Those good people then rarely question the billionaires’ manipulation about economics, matters of government … and the Constitution.

Nobody has time to vet the funding source of all they read.  Billionaires depend entirely on that. Just running through the orgs listed in the link above, one thing is certain:  these are just a tiny taste.  There are thousands of organizations now spouting not-news, and every month there will be thousands more.

Here’s an example of good reporting.  Using the company’s own documents,Mother Jones, a liberal magazine, took issue with the duplicity of Hobby Lobby in 2012 to start denying 4 types of birth control to employees. 

Whether or not you like HL’s corporate personnel decisions, Mother Jonesmakes their point in this story via Hobby Lobby’s own corporate tax documents.  It’s a liberal magazine, but the information in this story is also credible, using HL’s own corporate records. 

Being labeled liberal or conservative does not mean all of the stories are wrong.  When they provide actual evidence (not just linking to other blogs that share their opinion) in their stories – and are transparent about who pays for them – they can sometimes be a credible source of information.

The nation’s venerable TV news networks (major networks ABC, CBS, NBC) are neither conservative nor liberal, and are paid for by corporate ads in their entertainment divisions.  More often than not, they fear appearing to side with liberals or conservatives … whatever the evidence is. 

People are often suspicious of TV networks – trusting a reporter on an individual story one at a time.

While a poll recently found Fox the “most respected” news source, the same poll found them the “least trusted.”  That’s because the large number of Americans – who rely primarily on other news sources – do not trust them, illustrating again the partisan separation of news and not-news.

I have loved journalism (the pursuit of truth) all my life.  Been so sad for a while about the dearth … or maybe death … of it. 

Like Congress and the courts, journalism – once called the “Fourth Estate” – has been largely hijacked by billionaires for their financial benefit.


Cathy Travis, a 25 year veteran of communications on Capitol Hill, left Congress in 2008.  An independent since 2001, she is an author of both fiction and nonfiction.