Months before actress Meryl Streep's plug at the Golden Globes for the Committee to Protect Journalists, Donald Trump was on the group's radar for his contempt for reporters and their bosses. Back in mid-October, CPJ's board labeled then-candidate Trump an "unprecedented" threat to press freedoms after he swore that once in office, libel laws that shield reporters from lawsuits were coming down.
Streep at the Globes urged the audience to support CPJ, which advocates for press freedom and the safety of journalists worldwide. Overnight, it reportedly raised $80,000, mostly through small, individual donations. The windfall, which grew to $250,000 within days, will buoy CPJ should the Trump administration refuse to stand down from its pre-election promises to restrict what the press reports about the soon-to-be 45th president of the United States.
The celebrated actress urged the "principled" press to "call him on the carpet at every outrage," and for the well-heeled actors, directors and producers in the room to get behind the work of CPJ. Protecting journalists has attracted a wide of range of donors, including some big ones. Pierre Omidyar's foundation is CPJ's largest single donor.
CPJ identifies more than 300 "Supporters of Free Press" on its website. Preserving U.S. journalists' roles as government watchdogs is a major CJP goal for 2017. Here's a snapshot of where CPJ derives its support and which media-friendly funders have skin in this game, and how.
Omidyar Network: The quarter-million dollars raised for CPJ after the Golden Globes demonstrates the drawing power of a Hollywood icon (despite what Trump says about her craft.) Yet, the philanthropy of eBay founder Omidyar was nine times larger than that collectively given by nearly 2,000 individual donors over the past week. The Silicon Valley funder gifted $2.1 million toward CPJ's mission to keep journalists alive and out of jail in authoritarian countries.
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation: The grantmaker gave $250,000 to CPJ in the most recent 2015 reporting period. The Florida-based Knight Foundation also gave $693,000 toward CPJ's mission in 2014. Defending free speech is a core part of Knight's mission and, in a prescient gift, the foundation committed $60 million last spring for a new center on the First Amendment at Columbia. Knight has also been a big champion of nonprofit news outlets, and in December, created a special $1.5 million fund to match gifts to such groups.
The Ford Foundation: Ford gave $500,000 in two awards a couple of years ago, backing CPJ's mission of protecting and defending working journalists around the globe. The committee lists the Ford Foundation among its 2016 supporters, although last year's level of support hasn't been revealed.
Morton and Jane Blaustein: The Baltimore-based couple pledged $70,000 over two years to CPJ for continued support of "press freedom worldwide by defending the rights of journalists to report the news without fear of reprisal." We can only imagine how the couple feels now about such work, given the president-elect's vindictive remarks toward the press and his refusal to allow a CNN reporter to ask a question at last week's presser.
The Levy Foundation gave $200,000 to the cause in 2013.
Mid-range and smaller gifts of $25,000 are more common to CPJ, according to public records. The Samuel I. Newhouse Foundation gave $50,000, while Marty and Dorothy Silverman gave $28,500 in a recent period. The New York-based Overbrook Foundation made a $25,000 gift, as did Achelis and Bodman and the Davidson foundations.
CPJ revealed to us Friday that Streep and her husband made an undisclosed gift right before the Golden Globes. "Their gift came just before the Golden Globes, and we have not had a chance to update our website yet. As you can imagine, we have been quite busy," spokeswoman Mehdi Rahmati said. Streep's Silver Mountain Foundation for the Arts gives generously to the performing arts, museums and higher education to the tune of $1.2 million per year, its records show.
When these First Amendment defenders do update their donor list, it'll be interesting to see how many new donors were showbiz people in the room at the Golden Globes.