J.B. Pritzker is one of the richest members of America's one percent and a staunch pro-Israel Democrat. After backing Hillary Clinton in 2008--in opposition to his sister, Penny Pritzker--J.B. helped raise money for Barack Obama's presidential campaign.
Among other civic and philanthropic causes, Pritzker is heavily involved in the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which promotes a strong U.S.-Israel relationship. He has served on AIPAC's national board, regularly chairs AIPAC events in Chicago, and attends the organization's annual Policy Conference in Washington, D.C.
Given his devotion to a strong U.S.-Israel alliance, it is extraordinary to discover that Pritzker also contributed heavily to Media Matters for America. Through the Pritzker Family Foundation, which he leads, J.B. Pritzker has given $150,000 to Media Matters for America--$50,000 in 2008 and $100,000 in 2009, according to public records analyzed by Big Government.
Media Matters has come under heavy criticism from the Jewish community and even the liberal mainstream media for its virulent anti-Israel posture, which includes condoning antisemitic motifs such as "dual loyalty" and"Israel firster," which other organizations have shunned and condemned. Last year, Media Matters' senior fellow for foreign policy, M.J. Rosenberg, called Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu a "terrorist" and said that accusing AIPAC of "dual loyalty" was "giving it credit for one more loyalty than it holds."
Media Matters has come under increasing scrutiny for both its anti-Israel posture and its attempts to silence conservative voices. Most objections are not to the fact that Media Matters criticizes conservatives, but that it attempts to censor them--in close coordination with the Obama administration, according to the Daily Caller. On Israel, Rosenberg and Media Matters attempt to demonize not just the administration's critics but sincere American supporters of Israel--in Congress and in general
Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz--a strong defender of Israel and, like Pritzker, a Democrat--recently told WOR radio in New York that Media Matters was not merely "liberal" but "radical Stalinists" and anti-Israel "bigots," adding that he would not vote for Obama again unless the president dissociated himself from them:
First of all, [Media Matters] are not liberals. They are radical Stalinists, for the most part. They are–they bear no relationship to liberality. Liberals want to see an open marketplace of ideas, they don’t want to shut down debate the way these guys are trying to shut down; they don’t employ left-wing McCarthyism the way these guys do–these guys have nothing to do with liberalism. They’re radical extremists….And any association with the Obama administration is going to hurt the Obama administration. There’s not enough room under a big tent for both me, and people who are like me–support Israel, I’m a centrist in support of Israel, I’m in favor of the two-state solution–there’s not enough room for me and the bigots of Media Matters. The Obama administration is going to have to choose….I could not vote for any candidate who had anything to do with Media Matters. That’s clear. That’s as clear as can be. I will not–I will take an oath here that I will not vote for a candidate who has any direct association with Media Matters.
Given the abhorrent views and methods of Media Matters--particularly on the U.S.-Israel alliance, a subject very close to J.B. Pritzker's heart--why does he fund them?
Interestingly, the Pritzker Family Foundation does not seem to have donated to Media Matters in 2010, according to IRS filings reviewed by Big Government. Documents for 2011 are not yet available.
Attempts to reach J.B. Pritzker for comment have been unsuccessful thus far. Two weeks ago, I sent Pritzker an email in which I posed the following set of questions:
I am wondering if you have an opinion on this controversy; if you have issued any statements distancing yourself from Media Matters' criticism of, and language about, Israel; whether you have asked Media Matters to take action to stop anti-Israel and antisemitic commentary; or whether you have decided to cut off support for Media Matters as a result of the organization's anti-Israel bias and incendiary rhetoric.
No response was received; this post will be updated when a reply is obtained.