News and analysis
January 13, 2017

$250,000 Flows to Journalists’ Group After Streep-Trump Row

HFPA/AdMedia/Newscom

Meryl Streep’s speech at the Golden Globes, in which she urged viewers to support the Committee to Protect Journalists under Donald Trump’s presidency, drew 2,000 donations in 48 hours.

Donald Trump may be the Meryl Streep of nonprofit fundraising.

Liberal and progressive nonprofits have been raising record sums in the wake of Mr. Trump’s surprise election victory in November.

Receiving a lifetime-achievement award at the Golden Globe Awards on Sunday, Ms. Streep, the three-time Oscar winner almost universally considered one of the greatest actors of her time, excoriated the president-elect for imitating a disabled New York Times reporter during a campaign speech. Ms. Streep called on Americans to respond by supporting the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Donors answered. In the 48 hours after her speech, the group received roughly 2,000 gifts totaling more than $250,000, most of them from first-time donors, said John Weis, the committee’s development director. 

Mr. Trump may have inadvertently helped goose the giving by amplifying Ms. Streep’s message. At 6:27 Monday morning, he sniped back on Twitter, calling the actress "overrated" and a "Hillary flunky." He also denied that he mocked the reporter, Serge Kovaleski, who has a congenital joint condition that limits flexibility in his arms.

For CPJ, Ms. Streep’s endorsement came as a complete surprise. The group had received a multiyear gift from her family foundation at year’s end, said Mr. Weis, but was unaware of any further plans for assistance. During her speech, Ms. Streep talked about the importance of the press as a check on Mr. Trump’s power.

CPJ employees who work on global crises were on duty that Sunday night and were able to amplify Ms. Streep’s message through tweets and other vehicles.

More Gifts With BuzzFeed Flap

The charity saw another, smaller fundraising bump on Wednesday after Mr. Trump, during a news conference, scolded CNN’s Jim Acosta and BuzzFeed News for their reporting on a dossier containing salacious, unverified allegations about the president-elect’s personal behavior and ties to Russia.

BuzzFeed is selling T-shirts emblazoned with the words "failing pile of garbage" — the descriptor Mr. Trump used for the digital news outlet — and giving proceeds to CPJ, Mr. Weis said. As of Thursday afternoon, the T-shirts were sold out.

CPJ, which has an annual budget of roughly $6 million, raised a record $1 million from individuals last year.

"To have 25 percent of that in the first two weeks of the calendar year is a huge surge," Mr. Weis said. "We’re thrilled to have the support."