The Front Page: The Knight Foundation

Medium shot of Tucker Carlson speaking.

It’s Friday, July 1st.

In February 2021, I published a piece in The Objective outlining the Knight Foundation’s ties to the far-right.

It described how the 49th largest foundation in the world and preeminent philanthropic funder of U.S. media features prominent fascists and white supremacists at their events and distributes millions of dollars to organizations with ties to right-wing extremism like the Heritage Foundation and American Enterprise Institute.

At the time, Knight refused to answer questions about its endowment, grantmaking, commitment to DEI, and relationship with right-wing organizations. And despite hiring a new vice president of communications and chief DEI officer last year, the organization continues to refuse to answer questions about its relationship to white supremacy or other allegations of impropriety as recently as April 2022.

Whether Knight Foundation leadership is racist is unclear, though the foundation has taken no visible steps to address the concerns detailed in the February 2021 report. More evidence was introduced in favor of an affirmative conclusion this week when the Knight Foundation announced they would be hosting Tucker Carlson, Fox News host and documented white supremacist, in conversation with Semafor’s Ben Smith about the future of news, trust in news, and polarization.

Carslon’s sexist, racist, and xenophobic rhetoric is well reported. New York Times journalist Nicholas Confessore described Carlson as host of the “most racist show in the history of cable news.”

“[Carlson is directly borrowing] language and concepts from white nationalists and not just conservatives,” Confessore told Fresh Air’s Dave Davies. “I’m talking about people who are neo-Nazis, open nativists, white nationalists, people who get together in dark corners of the internet, mostly, and propound theories about how a cabal of elites — sometimes Jews, sometimes broader — are trying to replace Americans. Now, that theme hadn’t just popped up on the show last April. A version of it has been present in 400-plus episodes of the show.”

The nuanced and negative impact of platforming white supremacists and fascists has been researched and documented by a number of organizations, including Knight Foundation-supported projects like the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society and Shorenstein Center.

When I published my piece in 2021, Knight Foundation stakeholders — grantees, funder peers, and former staff — were privately voicing their concerns about the organization’s recent embrace of right-wing extremism. One person close to Knight shared knowledge of comments made by a Knight Foundation executive about the ability of Black journalists to be objective.

And a former staff member described the rightward tilt as a result of a push for “ideological diversity” driven by Alberto Ibargüen, who became president of the foundation in 2005 after leading the Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald as publisher. 

At the time, a select number of people called for accountability from the Knight Foundation, saying how it responded would signal its commitment to equity and inclusion. 
This year, as Knight reaffirms its commitment to platforming white supremacy, fewer people have chosen to remain silent. Next year, it will be even more.

— Simon Galperin, director of the Community Info Coop


A Bit More Media

Q&A: Alan Henry — Released this month, Seen, Heard, and Paid delves into the barriers that exist for marginalized newsroom workers, ways to overcome those hurdles, and when it’s time to leave. Last week, we spoke to the book’s author, Alan Henry, about how his own personal newsroom experiences informed his work. Read the conversation here.

How to write better headlines — For better or worse, journalists contribute to the public perception of incarceration and the justice system at large. To combat these harmful narratives, Scalawag has created a guide for writing headlines that challenge institutions of power, rather than default to them. 

Investigative Journalism Census — To understand the demographics of United States investigative journalists and work toward diversifying the industry, the Ida B. Wells Society and Investigative Reporters and Editors are conducting a census. Learn more and complete your submission here.

On cancel culture, again — The faults of a New York Magazine article on sexual misconduct within a high school go beyond its disregard for addressing systemic issues. As Gawker reports, the reporter behind the story — Elizabeth Weil — neglected to disclose that one of her children attended the high school in question.

The Documenters Network is growing — This year, Atlanta, Fresno and Omaha will join City Bureau’s Documenters Network, a program that has trained thousands of community members in four cities to report on local community meetings. Read more about what’s next for Canopy Atlanta, Fresnoland, and the Reader in the full release.

Expanding bylines —In a conversation with RJI’s Mikaela Rodenbaugh, Alex Sujong Laughlin explains that crediting invisible work in bylines — producers, editors, fact checkers — can help media workers, especially those from historically underrepresented groups, advance in the industry.


Stay Up To Date 

6 days until … What’s Really Driving Inflation? This event, hosted by ProPublica, focuses on using an accountability lens when reporting on inflation and the supply chain crisis.

26 days until … the 2022 National AAJA Convention. ($$$) This year, after back-to-back virtual conventions, attendees will meet in Los Angeles. Registration ends on Saturday, July 16.

27 days until … Photojournalism Basics: Doing More With Resources You Have. The Institute for Nonprofit News’ two-part presentation is led by photojournalist Scott Lewis.

What else should we feature? You tell us. Send an email to [email protected].


A few more resources

Looking for a job? Here are a few places to look: INN | ONA | JournalismJobs.com | 10 Jobs and a Dog | NABJ | AAJA | NAHJ | NLGJA | @WritersofColor | MEO Jobs | Freelance Journalist Rates | Source Jobs | Opportunities of the Week ($)   

How about a style guide? Trans Journalist Association | Diversity Style Guide | Tribal Nations Media Guide | NABJ Style Guide | Disability Language Style Guide | AAJA Guide to Covering Asian Pacific America | NAHJ Cultural Competence Handbook |  SPJ Race & Gender Hotline | AMEJA Media Resource Guide | The Press in Prison

Want to get in touch? Email us at [email protected].

Thanks for reading our newsletter. If you’re new, you can subscribe here

If you like what you read, we could use your support. Your contribution will go directly to our writers, editors, and any fees required for us to operate. 

We’ll have more for you soon. 

This issue is by Simon Galperin and Holly Rosewood with editing by Curtis Yee.

This site uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. By continuing to use this website, you consent to the use of cookies in accordance with our privacy policy.

Scroll to Top