George Soros Funded NPR in October 2000 -- For a Documentary on the 'Texas Death Machine' Under George W. Bush

Matthew Boyle at the Daily Caller offered more Thursday on how NPR director of institutional giving Betsy Liley discussed with the fake Muslim front group MEAC how George Soros decided to obscure his large donation to NPR by opting against on-air announcements of his $1.8 million gift to place reporters in every state capital (perhaps complete with medical-marijuana information brochures).

But then Liley suggested to the MEAC impersonators this was not the first time Soros donated to NPR. In a classic example of Soros-enabled liberal bias, he funded a documentary about executions in the state of Texas -- on October 12, 2000! -- just as Texas Gov. George W. Bush was running for president. This was the day after Bush was questioned on the death penalty in Texas in a presidential debate. (Salon.com interviewed the documentarians under the headline "Inside the Texas Death Machine.")

This attempt at a public execution of the Bush for President campaign had multiple funders, according to the press release: "Witness to an Execution was funded in part by the Rockefeller Foundation, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Soros Foundation."

Certainly a press release is public notice of a Soros grant. But it's not as much notice as announcing the grant on NPR's air from coast to coast. From Boyle's account:

Liley brought up Soros and his nonprofit organization, the Open Society Institute, while discussing what kind of on-air publicity the Muslim Education Action Center (MEAC) Trust would want in exchange for its donation. Liley mentioned that Soros and his organization decided they didn't want on-air publicity for their donation to avoid conservatives' scrutiny.

"George Soros and the Open Society Institute gave us $1.8 million, and they have decided not to use on-air credits because of what's happening in Congress," Liley said. When the man she thought represented the fictitious Muslim Brotherhood front group asked her how Soros's donation and "what's happening in Congress," relate, Liley said conservatives tried to link Soros's donation to Williams's firing.

Then came the talk of the previous Soros booty:

"I think the first gift was within the first year he set up the Foundation, which was 10 or 15 years ago," Liley said. "But, it was a different political situation and current events were a little different, and so, it went through - I was not here, but I think it went - there wasn't a press hullabaloo. I mean, the Open Society Institute was getting - you know, the conservatives on some of the websites, were having people call his foundation. The press was calling and so, it became, kind of - you know they got roped into the Juan Williams thing, which they didn't feel like they needed to be."'

Liley explains, though, that Soros's contribution had "nothing to do with" Juan Williams's firing, but, that perception caused him to choose to avoid publicity with air-time donors usually take advantage of.

"No one here has even met Mr. Soros," Liley said. "But, in light of that, his foundation chose not to use their on-air credits because they felt like it would just add more fuel to the fire that was an unnecessary fire for them. They don't need the recognition. So, I bring it up just as an example of choices that different people make."

A Nexis search located the documentary, aired inside the evening newscast All Things Considered, meaning this wasn't aired during odd hours in the middle of the night. It was smack dab in drive-time evening news. Governor Bush is not mentioned, but the horror of his agreement with this system might be implied. Here's one emotion-packed part of it:

Chaplain JIM BRAZZEL: Had one man who wanted to sing "Silent Night." He made his final statement, and then after the warden gave the signal [to start the lethal injection flowing], he started singing "Silent Night," and he got to the part 'Round yon virgin, mother and child,' and just as he got 'child' out was the last word.

JOHN MORITZ, reporter, Ft. Worth Star-Telegram: The people inside the room watching it are invariably silent. Sometimes you find people holding hands, maybe a mother and father of a murder victim or friends of the condemned man.

LEIGH ANNE GIDEON, former reporter, Huntsville Item: It's very quiet, it's extremely quiet. You can hear every breath everyone takes around you. You can hear the cries, the weeping, the praying.

LARRY FITZGERALD, PR officer, Huntsville Prison: The second chemical is pantrimonium bromide(ph), which is a muscle relaxant. It causes the diaphragm and the lungs to collapse.

JIM WILLETT, warden of Huntsville Prison: It's usually a real, real deep breath. Just seem like they draw in all the air they can.

GIDEON: And then whenever that breath goes, it's like a snore. I mean, it's like (makes noise), kind of like taking a balloon and squishing that balloon and the sound that a balloon makes when you're squishing the air out of it.

Chaplain BRAZZEL: Generally there is some erratic movement on the part of the inmate, some coughing, sputtering, occasionally a gasp, then there's quiet.

Unidentified Man #7: I've had several of them where -- watching their last breath go from their bodies and their eyes never take -- unfix from mine. You know, I'm gonna just--actually locked together. And I can close my eyes now and see those eyes. My feelings and my emotions are extremely intense at that time. I've never really been able to describe it, and I guess in a way I'm kind of afraid to describe it. I've never really delved into that part of my feelings yet.

FITZGERALD: A third chemical actually stops the heart.

WILLETT: At that point, and it's just something out of tradition and I certainly haven't messed with it because it's worked--I was told to wait three minutes from that point, and I have kept it to a T on three minutes.

GIDEON: You see no more breathing, you hear no more sounds. It's just waiting.

MICHAEL GRACZYK, AP reporter, Houston bureau: I had a mother collapse right in front of me as were standing virtually shoulder to shoulder. She collapsed, hit the floor, went into hyperventilation and almost convulsions.

GIDEON: I've seen family members collapse in there, I've seen them scream and wail. I've seen them beat the glass.

Capt. TERRY GRAHAM, Huntsville Prison: I've seen them fall into the floor, totally lose control, and yet, how do you tell a mother that she can't be there in the last moments of her son's life?

GIDEON: You'll never hear another sound like a mother wailing whenever she's watching her son being executed. There's no other sound like it. It is just this horrendous wail. You can't get away from it. That wail surrounds the room. It's definitely something you won't ever forget. (Soundbite of music)

NPR had no time to ponder the families of the victims of these executed criminals. The documentary ended with this:

WARDEN WILLETT: I don't believe the rest of my officers are going to break like Fred did, but I do worry about my staff. I can see it in their eyes sometimes, particularly when we do a lot of executions in a short period of time. So far this year, we've done 33, and I'm guessing we'll get someplace close to 50 by the end of 2000. That'll be a record.

I'll be retiring next year, and to tell you the truth, this is something I won't miss a bit. There are times when I'm standing there watching those fluids start to flow and wonder whether what we're doing is right. It's something I'll be thinking about for the rest of my life. (Soundbite of music)
I'm Warden Jim Willett in Huntsville, Texas.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis