The U.S. State Department sent more than $500,000 in taxpayer money to a Pakistani media organization with ties to George Soros, a billionaire investor and philanthropist known for supporting left-wing political causes.
Media Matters for Democracy (MMfD), which trains journalists in Pakistan, has received $553,702 in grants from the State Department since 2018. The grants are part of the agency’s “Public Diplomacy Programs for Afghanistan and Pakistan,” which will continue next year.
MMfD states on its website that it focuses on “media literacy and development, digital democracy, progressive media, and internet regulation in Pakistan.” It offers free online courses, including one titled “Digital Disinformation and Journalistic Responsibilities.” One core focus of the group is diversity.
“MMfD recognises diversity and inclusion as a core value of democracy, and thus all our programs have a strong focus on fostering values and skills that enable and empower women, minority communities, and other marginalised groups,” the group’s website states.
Faisal Bari, the chairman of MMfD’s board, previously worked as an education economist at Soros’ Open Society Foundation. Asad Baig, MMfD’s founder and executive director, previously managed the Open Society Foundation’s media program in Pakistan.
The MMfD website has broken links to the newsroom, initiatives, and publication sections of its website. The Dallas Express reached out to the group asking if they could provide more information about their work and confirm any association with the left-leaning “media watchdog group” Media Matters for America (MMfA). MMfD did not respond.
MMfA, which received a $1 million donation from Soros in 2010, told The Dallas Express it is “not related” to MMfD.
The State Department, when asked to elaborate on its grant program with MMfD, told The Dallas Express, “We have nothing for you on this.” The agency was also asked if it knew of any association between MMfD and MMfA.
Sahar Habib Ghazi, a board member for MMfD, has espoused extensive anti-Israel views on X since Hamas’ terrorist attack against the country on October 7. Ghazi, a journalist with nearly 34,000 followers on X, was moderately active on the social media platform before the terrorist attacks but has since flooded her feed with tweets and retweets calling Israel’s military response in Gaza a genocidal ethnic cleansing.
“Gaslighter-in-Chief of Israel’s Genocide of Gaza,” she tweeted on October 25 in reference to President Joe Biden.
Ghazi retweeted several posts claiming Israel bombed a hospital in Gaza last month. U.S. intelligence agencies determined the explosion was likely the result of a botched rocket launch from Palestinian militants. Ghazi, in a series of tweets and retweets following the determination, continued to suggest the bombing was Israel’s fault.