Billionaire George Soros, through his Open Society Foundations, and medical-device billionaire Hansjörg Wyss, have been identified as significant contributors to the nonprofit purchase of almost two dozen local newspapers in Maine. The acquisition includes noted publications such as the Portland Press Herald, the Lewiston Sun Journal, and the Kennebec Journal, as highlighted by a Semafor investigation.
The National Trust for Local News acknowledged receiving support from Soros' foundation but denied claims suggesting that this funding specifically facilitated the Maine newspaper acquisitions, Newsmax reports.
However, contrasting reports from Semafor suggest that both Soros and Wyss did in fact allocate funds enabling the National Trust's newspaper procurement. Such contributions, it was noted, had not been disclosed earlier.
According to additional information from the Daily Caller, the acquisition by the Soros-supported National Trust consists of five daily newspapers and 17 weekly editions across Maine.
Reports suggest that both the Open Society and Wyss made multi-million dollar donations to the National Trust expressly for the newspaper purchases.
Wyss, known for his significant contributions to progressive causes in the US, has reportedly channeled close to $500 million to left-leaning advocacy groups. Watchdog group, Americans for Public Trust, has raised concerns over the Swiss billionaire potentially exploiting foreign influence loopholes to facilitate his donations.
Moreover, a study by the Media Research Center (MRC) indicates that since 2003, Soros has donated an estimated $52 million to media establishments. The MRC raises questions about potential conflicts of interest in line with the Society of Professional Journalists' ethical code.
However, as Semafor notes, conservative financial influence is also evident in Maine's media landscape. Financial records shared with Semafor from Accountable.US indicate that a conservative network led by Leonard Leo has been funding a local right-leaning digital media outlet in Maine, The Maine Wire.
Further details reveal that between 2020 and 2021, The Maine Wire's parent entity, the Maine Policy Institute, benefited from financial support from Leo-backed nonprofits, including the Schwab Charitable Fund and DonorsTrust.
Historically, Maine's political landscape has seen representation from both Democrats and Republicans. Currently, the state's Senate seats are held by Republican Susan Collins and independent Angus King, who aligns with the Democrats.
It's noteworthy to mention that in the 2016 Presidential elections, former President Donald Trump narrowly lost to Hilary Clinton in Maine by a margin of less than 3 percentage points.