The Schumann Center for Media and Democracy (SCMD) was established by Florence Ford Schumann and her husband John in 1961; its original name was the Florence and John Schumann Foundation. As the daughter of one of IBM’s founding members, Mrs. Schumann derived great wealth from her inheritance, which enabled her to be the Foundation’s principal donor. Mr. Schumann, meanwhile, earned a fortune in the business world — founding several banks and credit unions, and becoming President of the General Motors Acceptance Corporation. Both Mr. and Mrs. Schumann are deceased — the former in 1964, the latter in 1991. Their sons, Robert and W. Ford Schumann, now serve, respectively, as Chairman and Vice President of SCMD. They are also the Vice Chairman and Chairman, respectively, of the Florence Fund, which is a subsidiary of the Schumann Center.
SCMD’s stated purpose is “to renew the democratic process through cooperative acts of citizenship, especially as they apply to governance and the environment.” Its grant-making is directed heavily toward organizations whose values are anti-corporate, anti-free market, and anti-capitalist. As expressed by its President, Bill Moyers of PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) fame, SCMD deems the United States a nation rife with economic injustice; the remedy it prescribes is a socialist, redistributionist economic model. Says Moyers: “A profound transformation is occurring in America. Inequality is greater than it’s been since 1929. Forty years ago, the gap in terms of wealth between the top 20 percent and the bottom 20 percent was 30-fold. Now it’s more than 75-fold. Such concentrations of wealth would be far less of an issue if the rest of society were benefiting proportionately. But that’s not the case. Middle-class and working people have to run harder and harder just to stay even, and our social stratification has become alarming.”
SCMD is a major supporter of radical environmentalist organizations whose goal, as writer Michael Berliner explains, is “not clean air and clean water; rather, it is the demolition of technological/industrial civilization.” At the same time, however, the Center is heavily invested in numerous corporations that it classifies as environmentally unfriendly. That is, it exploits, as a wealth-generating vehicle, the very capitalist system which it blames for having created a host of environmental ills. The watchdog website UndueInfluence.com characterizes such an investment strategy as “using capitalist investments to destroy capitalist society.” For instance, at the very time when Moyers hosted a March 2001 program condemning the chemical industry, SCMD held large investments in chemical companies. Similarly, while Moyers has hosted programs advocating a reduction in America’s dependence on foreign oil, SCMD has earned immense profits from its investments in gas and oil companies. The Center’s investment portfolio contains tens of thousands of shares in such companies as Exxon Mobil, Conoco, British Petroleum, Royal Dutch Petroleum, Ford, Keyspan Energy, Pioneer Natural Resource Company, Noble Affiliates, Royal Dutch Petroleum Company, Columbia Gas Systems, Dow Chemical, Dupont, Shell Oil, Shell Transportation and Trading, and General Motors.
The SCMD hierarchy also has close ties to the peace movement. The Florence Fund, whose Executive Director is Bill Moyers’ son John, has joined forces with such anti-war groups as the Win Without War (WWW) coalition to buy full-page advertisements in the New York Times denouncing America’s 2003 invasion of Iraq and the subsequent “occupation.” Because Moyers has developed affiliations with many WWW member organizations, he frequently features them — as well as other SCMD grantees — on his PBS program, sometimes without disclosing that his Foundation has given them money.
Among the recent recipients of SCMD grants are: ACORN; Alliance for Justice; The American Prospect; Citizen Action; Earth Action Network; Earth Island Institute; Earthjustice; the Environmental Working Group; Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting; Friends of the Earth; the Institute for Public Accuracy; Mother Jones; The Nation Institute; The Nation Magazine; National Public Radio; the Natural Resources Defense Council; Proteus Fund; Public Broadcasting Service; the Public Citizen Foundation; the Sierra Club; Sojourners; the Tides Foundation and the Tides Center; the Union of Concerned Scientists; U.S. Public Interest Research Group; and the Wilderness Society.
To view a list of additional noteworthy grantees of the Schumann Center for Media and Democracy, click here.
The Schumann Center for Media and Democracy is now known as The Schumann Media Center, Inc.