Former Google CEO and Clinton lackey Eric Schmidt is giving $4.7 million to NPR to expand the left-wing network’s reach in the Midwest and California with the creation of two newsrooms.
NPR announced Tuesday that the grant from Eric and Wendy Schmidt will help to expand NPR’s investigative reporting capacity and boost local news coverage.
Eric Schmidt was a major supporter of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election. As revealed by WikiLeaks, Schmidt even loaned Google’s corporate jet to members of the Clinton campaign on a number of occasions. Last year, he co-hosted a Hollywood fundraiser for Joe Biden.
Schmidt is teaming up with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) to lead a blue-ribbon commission on transforming the state’s infrastructure post-coronavirus. Schmidt is expected to work on New York state’s approach to issues including telehealth, remote learning, and broadband access.
NPR said the new Midwest newsroom will provide content for all 25 public radio stations in Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, and Nebraska. The California newsroom, which was announced earlier this year, will serve all 17 public radio stations across the state and is being led by former Marketplace editor Joanne Griffith.
The two newsrooms are part of NPR’s Collaborative Journalism Network, an initiative announced last year to address the lack of reporting in so-called “news-deprived” areas of the country.
The news industry has had a complicated relationship with Silicon Valley and the wealthy individuals who run it.
News organizations have long blamed Silicon Valley giants including Google and Facebook of stealing their advertising revenue while taking advantage of their original reporting. Meanwhile, tech billionaires including Jeff Bezos and Marc Benioff have acquired major news organizations, providing a much needed financial lifeline to struggling print outlets like The Washington Post and Time magazine.
“Now more than ever, we depend on high-quality journalism for timely and critical information,” Wendy Schmidt said in a statement on Tuesday. “Local news is especially important, and with so many newsrooms in decline, we need to invest in strengthening reporting resources from trusted sources like public radio.”
NPR recently landed in hot water when one of its reporters was accused by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo of breaking a promise to keep some of his comments off-the-record.
“NPR reporter Mary Louise Kelly lied to me, twice,” Pompeo said in a statement. “First, last month, in setting up our interview and, then again yesterday, in agreeing to have our post-interview conversation off the record.”