How Much Influence Does Bill Gates Have On Global Media?

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By Mayukh Saha / Truth Theory

Bill Gates is one of the most famous individuals on the planet. His range goes from software development to philanthropy in multiple charities around the globe. Nevertheless, he has his admirers, as well as his critics- just like any other celebrity.


Now, we wouldn’t go as far as to deduce if any of his admirers or critics have a strong point of contention against him. But what we can do is put forth the subjective admiration or the criticism that has been leveled against him over the years. The veracity of the statement is not to be judged by us- but the mere representation of the same.

Bill Gates- Questions Regarding His Authenticity In Media 

In the Columbia Journalism Review, an article written by Tim Schwab in 2020 leveled an argument against Bill Gates and his Gates Foundation- calling them “the gatekeepers of journalism”. The author further brought in NPR and stated that every quoted expert in a particular report regarding the Gates Foundation was connected to the Foundation itself. Also, Schwab highlighted the fact that NPR itself would be receiving funding from Bill Gates. The article in question was a Harvard-led experiment that would allow families on the lower end of the income spectrum to find housing in better neighborhoods. This would, in turn, give their children the opportunity to hopefully break this cyclical poverty. 

Although the study reporter, Pam Fessler states, “NPR funding from Gates was not a factor in why or how we did the story”, Schwab claims that this story is just one amongst the many that NPR has reported regarding the Gates Foundation. Fessler mentions that her reporting did go above and beyond the voices that found themselves mentioned in the story. And yet, Schwab is of the idea that the journal routinely publishes pieces of writing that are pretty favorable to Gates and his organization. 

A celebrity that has questioned the relationship between Bill Gates and the media is Russell Brand. The English actor and activist recently mentioned, “Bill Gates, apparently, gives a whole bunch of money to all sorts of different media outlets. Why would that be necessary?” Russell Brand also mentions that there has been a study that talks about the dichotomy between the empires of other billionaires and Bill Gates. The study claims, “While other billionaires’ media empires are relatively well known, the extent to which Bill Gates’s cash underwrites the modern media landscape is not. After sorting through over 30,000 individual grants, Mint Press can reveal that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has made over $300 million worth of donations to fund media projects.” Brand continues to say that some of the media houses that received major funding from Gates were NBC, CNN, NPR, The Atlantic, and PBS.

Now, a question that does stand in perspective to the above discussion is- Does Bill Gates actively manipulate or influence what’s written and shown in media? We would not have a clear answer to that- so we couldn’t possibly state if this has any validity. But, it would not be improper to assume that any celebrity or a hugely influential figure would want some good press on their court. So, how much influence does Bill Gates have on global media? Regardless of the amount (which we do not really know about), this doesn’t indicate that the man has malicious or nefarious intentions behind funding these institutions, in any way or form whatsoever. Mintpress News also stated that Bill Gates was actually treated quite well by corporate media. The Guardian had given him the title of ‘Saint Bill’, and he was presented as a compassionate nerd with visions of saving the world. 

Russell Brand  and Columbia Journal Review Talk About Bill Gates’s “Whitewashing In Media”

Nevertheless, it is quite astounding to note that the total donations provided by the Gates Foundation to the biggest media houses in the world amount to over $166 million. While there is no information about him ‘whitewashing’ or portraying his own agenda, the money is definitely directed towards those issues that the Gates Foundation tackles. For example, the CNN Grant, worth $3.6 million, was geared towards, “reporting on gender equality with a particular focus on least developed countries, producing journalism on the everyday inequalities endured by women and girls across the world.” 

Interestingly, Mintpress News has also reported that the BMGF has paid big bucks for specific campaigns from the media. Since 2014, the Foundation has been donating close to $5.7 million to the Popular Foundation of India. The donation was to ensure that there was enough knowledge, propagated by the media in the country, to promote reproductive and sexual health. The Foundation also had the intention of making sure that the country was well adept at implementing family planning methods. 


Despite the good that the donations have caused, Mintpress Media and Tim Schwab’s articles raise questions regarding the objectivity that is on display by large media houses. Interestingly, the Seattle Times- the paper based in Gates’ city of residence- raised quite a point back in 2011. “The foundation’s grants to media organizations… raise obvious conflict-of-interest questions” How can reporting be unbiased when a major player holds the purse strings?” This media publication raises the idea that a lot of the criticism aimed at Bill Gates and his Foundation has been rendered obscure by the outpouring of bizarre conspiracy theories. Schwab, Russell Brand, and other critics of the billionaire believe that most of the “genuine critiques” of the billionaire are algorithmically suppressed, and demonetized.

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Copyright by World Economic Forum by Sebastian Derungs, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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