Laurene Powell Jobs, whom Vox describes as “one of the world’s most important philanthropists,” is the widow of Apple founder and billionaire computer guru Steve Jobs. She has become a secret superpower behind a vast network of left-wing media outlets, organizations, and politicians. Forbes lists Jobs as one of the ten richest women on earth, with a net worth of around $16 billion, mostly from her family stakes in two of the world’s biggest companies: Apple and Disney.
I investigated Jobs’ growing influence in my new book, Breaking the News: Exposing the Establishment Media’s Hidden Deals and Secret Corruptions, which exposes the hidden connections between the establishment media and the activist left.
If there’s a well-known persona comparable to Laurene Powell Jobs, it’s Hungarian billionaire George Soros. Soros is branded a “philanthropist,” but he also functions as a one-man piggy bank for the globalist far-left. Much like Soros’ Open Society Foundations, the main vehicle for Jobs’ influence is Emerson Collective (EC), the philanthropic outfit she founded and leads. The Emerson Collective, according to Forbes, is “a hybrid philanthropic and investing limited liability company.” That’s a pretty murky description, which appears to allow them to engage in business and charity without ever being terribly explicit about which is which. I’m not sure which of the two categories it falls under, but EC also happens to own the Atlantic.
Inside Philanthropy named Jobs 2019’s “Least Transparent Mega-giver.”
EC functions primarily as a private business owned by Jobs’s personal trust. This shields it from IRS disclosure rules and allows it to more freely engage in political activity.
It’s sly and devious, but considering how many media outlets are aligned with Jobs either financially or ideologically, it’s no surprise that little reporting has been done on these connections.
After all, if you’re in media, she might be your boss one day. Maybe she already is.
The Atlantic published what is perhaps the single fakest fake news story of the 2020 election. On September 3, 2020, editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg posted an article with the bombshell headline “Trump: Americans Who Died in War Are ‘Losers’ and ‘Suckers.’” The piece alleged that Donald Trump, while in France to commemorate American Marines who died in World War II, denigrated American soldiers who died in combat.
Though the content of the article relied only on anonymous sources, was never proven, and was refuted by myriad on-record sources including several Trump-haters, it had undeniable power in the news cycle. The timing was impeccable. So good, in fact, it raised suspicions that the Atlantic had coordinated with the Biden campaign. The piece ran on a Thursday evening, and by the following morning a left-wing group called VoteVets already had cut an anti-Trump ad around it, which aired on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. (You can read my full break down of this “Fake News Instant Classic” and see the rest of the “Fake News Hall of Shame” in Breaking the News.)
Though the Atlantic may be the crown jewel in Jobs’ media empire, it’s hardly alone. Jobs is also an investor in Axios, a prestige D.C. news outlet with an HBO television show. She also funds Mother Jones and ProPublica, both of which are part of the activist left but also does substantial reporting. The Emerson Collective has also partnered with NowThis, a hyperpartisan left-wing viral news video operation targeted at millennials.
Jobs also has funded ACRONYM, a Democratic technology venture, which pumped $25 million into Courier Newsroom, which claims to fund independent local newsrooms across the country. In reality, Courier is much more partisan. Bloomberg’s Joshua Green described Courier as “the Left’s plan to slip vote-swaying news into Facebook Feeds” under the guise of “hypertargeted hometown news.” Left-of-center media watchdog NewsGuard was even more cynical: “Courier and Acronym are exploiting the widespread loss of local journalism to create and disseminate something we really don’t need: hyperlocal partisan propaganda.”
They are right. The decline of print and independent media has created an opportunity for monied partisans to launder their political activism through established media brands. Courier seemingly shows how far that exploitation has gone.
In addition to backing major media brands, Emerson Collective actively supports the Democratic Party.
For example, in 2016, EC gave $2.5 million to DNC super-PAC Priorities Action USA. But Jobs is more than just a major Democrat donor. Obama’s education secretary Arne Duncan and general services administrator Dan Tangherlini are part of EC. Jobs is said to have a “tight” personal relationship with Kamala Harris, who was a California senator before becoming vice president. Naturally, the Atlantic has lavished praise on Harris, barely stopping short of endorsing her during the 2019–20 Democrat primaries.
Laurene Powell Jobs went to the Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania and Stanford, she worked for Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs, she married well and inherited a lot of money, and her wealth is tied up in some of world’s biggest companies. She is the establishment.
Her most prestigious publication, the Atlantic, was founded by Emerson Collective namesake Ralph Waldo Emerson; it had the founding motto “of no party or clique.” That sentiment is laughable today under Jobs’s leadership. It is one of the corporate Democrat establishment’s favorite weapons. The Emerson Collective office features a mural inspired by Malcolm X’s famed “Ballot or the Bullet” speech; the speech, largely about civil rights and black nationalism, is highly critical of the Democrat Party and powerful whites. What would these men think of a plutocrat tech heiress appropriating their names and legacies as part of a tenebrous political power play?
No one knows, and Laurene Powell Jobs certainly doesn’t care.
This article was adapted from Breaking the News, now available in bookstores.
Alex Marlow is the Editor-in-Chief of Breitbart News, the host of Breitbart News Daily on SiriusXM’s Patriot Channel 125, and the author of the new book, Breaking the News: Exposing the Establishment Media’s Hidden Deals and Secret Corruption. You can follow Alex on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @AlexMarlow.