George Soros Would've Gotten Away With It, Too, If It Wasn't For You Meddling Kids!

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Oct. 13 2011 12:35 PM

George Soros Would've Gotten Away With It, Too, If It Wasn't For You Meddling Kids!

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A Hungarian-American financier George Soros looks on during a session entitled 'Redesigning the International Monetary System: A Davos Debate' at the World Economic Forum annual meeting on January 27, 2011 in Davos. AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)

Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images

File this one under "Nut Grafs That Fall Completely Apart Later in the Article." Reuters on Occupy Wall Street:

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

George Soros and the protesters deny any connection. But Reuters did find indirect financial links between Soros and Adbusters, an anti-capitalist group in Canada which started the protests with an inventive marketing campaign aimed at sparking an Arab Spring type uprising against Wall Street.
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Soros! Lord of lies, puppetmaster of the anti-capitalists! What evidence does Reuters produce? I'll summarize.

Like the protesters, Soros is no fan of the 2008 bank bailouts and subsequent government purchase of the toxic sub-prime mortgage assets they amassed in the property bubble.

That's... not really compelling, is it? According to public polling, a solid majority of Americans are "no fans" of the bailouts.

[C]onservative radio host Rush Limbaugh summed up the speculation when he told his listeners last week, "George Soros money is behind this."

Rush Limbaugh claimed something? That's a fantastic basic for an investigative story. In 2008, Limbaugh claimed that Obama made a pre-election trip to visit his dying grandmother to deal with the rumors that he wasn't born in America. Get on it, Reuters!

No, I think this is supposed to be the evidence. The protests were first formulated by writers at AdBusters magazine.

According to disclosure documents from 2007-2009, Soros' Open Society gave grants of $3.5 million to the Tides Center, a San Francisco-based group that acts almost like a clearing house for other donors, directing their contributions to liberal non-profit groups... disclosure documents also show Tides, which declined comment, gave Adbusters grants of $185,000 from 2001-2010, including nearly $26,000 between 2007-2009.

And that's the connection. Soros has given grants to Tides, which gave $26,000 to AdBusters in the same period. Some perspective: AdBusters has a reported circulation of 120,000 and a cover price of $7.95. If an issue of AdBusters sells 1,090 copies, the gross profit is equivilent to a year of funding from Tides. More perspective: Americans for Prosperity, the umbrella Tea Party group founded and partly funded by David Koch, had a 2010 budget of $40 million.

Hey, I'm glad I know about this incredibly tenuous connection. Hats off. But this may be the reductio ad absurdum of follow-the-money reporting on protests.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.