Bill Gates has been getting an awful lot of press lately. Which might be considered odd since the planet is currently in the grip of an actual virus, rather than one that just causes Powerpoint to crash when changing slides.
However, the Microsoft founder and billionaire has shifted his area of interest in recent years from computing to global health – an interesting philanthropic move, but he’s an astoundingly clever man so presumably more than capable of making such a move.
Gates wanting to divert some of his vast fortune into trying to better mankind is obviously a fine thing for him to do, and indeed to a large extent praiseworthy. But there is something about the level of fawning coverage that he is receiving from the mainstream media that is a little more unsettling than usual.
Last week, The New York Times published an opinion piece entitled, “Bill Gates is the most interesting man in the world”. There’s no question mark used. He. Simply. Just. Is. And there’s no holding it back in its gushing, hagiographic praise.
He is vaunted as a “lavender sweatered Mr Rogers” who is a “spokesman for science” countering Donald Trump’s “life-threatening nonsense”. The author goes on to list the many interesting books Mr Gates reads and doubtless how his apartment presumably smells of rich mahogany (OK, I made that last one up).
Even by the NYT’s sycophantic standards it is particularly obsequious towards the Seattle-based billionaire. It hails him as a “prophet” for predicting the pandemic in a 2015 TED Talk. What he actually said then was that a pandemic is a bigger threat than all out nuclear war, and while that may be true of a future pandemic, I think the citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have broadly fared better in 2020 than they did in 1945.
He is also credited with saving “millions of lives”; the source of this information being an article in the (Gates funded) Guardian from 2017 that calculated the exact number then to be 122m. Good counting, guys! And that’s way before your benefactor’s Covid-19 miracles!
It then goes on to dismiss any critics of Gates as part of a “global lunacy community — anti-vaxxers, science deniers, Russian agents — that has spread so many conspiracy theories regarding Gates that misinformation about him is now among the most widespread of all coronavirus falsehoods.” Which seems a little harsh. Some just might genuinely prefer Apple products.
What this eulogy to St Gates the banisher of pestilence fails to mention is that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, whilst unquestionably doing good works around the globe, is also essentially buying good publicity in the media.
Not in the way celebrities or politicians do by granting access and giving scoops to favourable journalists, but literally bunging huge wads of cash to mainstream media outlets.
The foundation is bankrolling “journalism” about its activities around the globe. ABC ($1.5m), PBS ($0.9m), The BBC ($51m), The Guardian ($9.3m), The Daily Telegraph ($3.4m) and the Financial Times ($1.8m), to name but a few, have received large amounts of dollars from the foundation.
This is ostensibly to fund journalism that will “inform and engage communities” on the health issues that the Gates are concerned about. But do we really believe that there are no strings attached to these grants? Gates is a very clever and very rich man; one does not get to be both of those things by doling out cash without asking for guarantees in return?
One doesn’t have to be too conspiratorially minded to think, perhaps, that cash-strapped mainstream media organisations might be prepared to look the other way if anything were to go awry at the foundation if it had previously handed them a few million bucks.
Or that they might be tempted to label their benefactor as ‘THE MOST INTERESTING MAN IN THE WORLD’ in order to stay sweet with him?
To be fair to the foundation and Gates, they do publish all these grants on their website in the name of transparency, but how many people would think to go there unless prompted to by a media outlet? Which might, er, prefer to be silent about their bankrolling by a billionaire with an agenda…?
This backdoor funding of media organisations is somewhat bizarre and appears to point to him wanting his influence on them to be unknown.
Everyone knows Jeff Bezos owns the Washington Post and Rupert Murdoch made his billions buying up the media landscape in the US, UK and Australia, but at least that is public knowledge.
Gates is more than wealthy enough to buy up a legacy media platform; in fact he used to part own MSNBC but pulled out of that arrangement in 2012.
Presumably, he has decided his billions are better spent buying up influence throughout the media rather than nailing his colours to the mast with his own outlet.
Fellow billionaire George Soros is frequently vilified for this, but Gates has been spared a good deal of that, at least from the mainstream media. Anyone think of any of the $ millions of reasons why that might be?
Original: Guy Birchall – RT