The good news is that--thanks to our readers--we did meet the grant challenge from a donor.
The bad news is that many big donors are staying on the sidelines, not just for us but for other independent media outlets.
It is also very sad news that "The Peter B. Collins Show," a high-quality liberal talk radio program on the West Coast, has announced that it is shutting down after today. Collins is a talented interviewer with a smartly formatted show offering three hours of interesting content a day.
But Collins encountered the same shortage of interest and support from wealthy liberals that has been the bane of independent media for years.
Indeed, one could argue that the disparity between how wealthy conservatives have lavished money on right-wing media outlets and how well-to-do liberals did the opposite--essentially starving progressive and independent media--goes a long way toward explaining the financial, political and strategic mess that the United States finds itself in today.
It is hard to envision eight disastrous years of George W. Bush and, now, six full years of the bloody Iraq War without factoring in the Right's powerful media infrastructure, the fawning mainstream/corporate media, and the absence of any countervailing information sources that come close to matching up.
When I was researching a story this week about the decline of the Washington Post, I came upon a story that I wrote in June 2005 entitled "The Real Lessons of Watergate." One of the lessons learned by the Right was that Republicans needed a system of media protection so they could prevent another catastrophe like Richard Nixon's ouster for abusing his presidential powers.
In the late 1970s, Nixon's former Treasury Secretary William Simon, then head of the Olin Foundation, began pulling together like-minded conservatives who made strategic investments in right-wing media outlets. They also poured money into attack groups that went after troublesome mainstream journalists--and into think tanks.
Over the years, other rich right-wingers joined in, like South Korean theocrat Sun Myung Moon and Australian media mogul Rupert Murdoch. Eventually, a vertically integrated right-wing media machine took shape, from magazines, newspapers and books to talk radio, cable TV and the Internet.
The right-wing attack groups also targeted mainstream journalists, like myself, who dug up information that didn't fit with the propaganda that Republican administrations were dispensing to the American public. Many of us saw our careers damaged or destroyed.
In the 2005 article, I quoted longtime congressional staffer Spencer Oliver, who was one of the Democrats at the Watergate offices whose phone was bugged by Nixon's operatives. Oliver said: