CEO of Media Company Bankrolled by Dem Megadonors Arrested for Fraud

Left-wing billionaires Laurene Powell Jobs and Marc Lasry funded Ozy Media, whose 'business strategy was based on outright deceit and fraud,' says Justice Dept

Carlos Watson (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for HISTORY)
February 23, 2023

The CEO of a media company backed by liberal billionaires including Laurene Powell Jobs was arrested Thursday for conspiring to commit securities and wire fraud after years of lying about viewership numbers, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Ozy Media chief executive and former MSNBC host Carlos Watson was arrested after his cofounder Samir Rao pleaded guilty to pretending to be a YouTube executive during fundraising calls with investors and lying about finances and engagement.

The federal indictment said Watson "engaged in a scheme to defraud Ozy’s investors, potential investors, potential acquirers, lenders, and potential lenders."

"As alleged, Carlos Watson is a con man whose business strategy was based on outright deceit and fraud," said Breon Peace, U.S. attorney for the eastern district of New York. "He ran Ozy as a criminal organization rather than as a reputable media company."

The media company was backed by progressive billionaires including Laurene Powell Jobs and Marc Lasry, a hedge fund billionaire whose son ran as a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin. Lasry organized a $35 million investment round in 2019 for Ozy.

Jobs is a Democrat megadonor who owns the Atlantic. She has funded Democrat-aligned groups fighting "fake news," the Washington Free Beacon reported.

The Ford Foundation, which donates to liberal causes including Ibram X. Kendi, gave the company $1.95 million in grants in 2016 and 2017.

It also received funding from the Center for Public Broadcasting, which in 2018 gave the company a $500,000 grant to create a documentary series with liberal celebrities. Congressional Republicans have sought to cut funds to the center given its liberal bias in programming.

The New York Times in 2021 first put the spotlight on Ozy’s practices when it reported on Rao’s impersonation tactic. Watson at the time blamed Rao’s alleged mental illness.