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Hair of the Innuendo that bit him
Posted by: Jon Henke on Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Last week, Paul Krugman wrote a column, Tankers on the Take, about bought and paid-for pundits...
Now, I never had any illusions about intellectual integrity in the world of right-wing think tanks. It has been clear for a long time that so-called analysts at many of these think tanks are, in effect, paid to support selected policies and politicians. But it never occurred to me that the pay-for-play schemes were so blatant.
Paul Krugman went on to warn journalists against giving "equal time" to accusations that pay for punditry is a bipartisan sport, because "this is overwhelmingly a story about Republican lobbyists and conservative think tanks".

"Who else is on the take?" Krugman asks, after suggesting that "journalists set out to track down those people with 'similar arrangements'".

So, when you see anti-WalMart punditry, ask yourself: "Who else is on the take?Well, far be it from me to disabuse Paul Krugman of his notion that this is an entirely right wing story, but some people have looked into this sort of thing.

1. Earlier this year, Ryan Sager did a story on the The American Prospect's special issue on campaign finance reform—which was paid for by "the Carnegie Corporation — which, again, has spent $14 million promoting the regulation of political speech in the last decade."

As a follow-up to that story, I noted that Nicholas Confessore—who has pioneered the investigation of right wing "astro-turfing"—was "a Senior Writer at the American Prospect and wrote for them in 2000 when the Carnegie Corporation paid TAP to 'journo-lobby'", and actually contributed "an article for the American Prospect journo-lobbying issue on campaign finance reform."

Confessore went on to write an article about right wing "influence peddling", but failed to mention his own participation in bought and paid punditry.

2. Kevin Hasset exposes the origins of the recent grassroots uproar about Wal-Mart:
At the center of the crusade are two organizations, ``Wal- Mart Watch'' and ``Wake Up Wal-Mart.'' Wal-Mart Watch was started by Andrew Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union. Wake Up Wal-Mart is a project of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union.

The public relations offensive is one long attempt at image assassination. For example, Wal-Mart Watch has constructed a college ``curriculum'' that it encourages activists to push. It kindly provides a handy e-mail utility that directs the lucky recipient to the ``curriculum'' and says, ``I thought you might enjoy this story from Wal-Mart Watch, a group who is starting to expose Wal-Mart for their bad labor standards, political corruptness and overall bad citizenship.''

So, when you see anti-WalMart punditry—this recent column by Paul Krugman comes to mind—ask yourself: "Who else is on the take? Or has the culture of corruption spread so far that the question is, Who isn't?"
 
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Conservative think-tanks. Hmmm... People paid to consider issues from a conservative viewpoint, then make their musings available to conservative leaders in the form of papers or articles. So that’s being dismissed as "paid punditry"? Does he not realize what the function of a think tank is?!?!?

Well, then, what’s Krugman’s take on the GOP? "They purport to offer their platform for the people to accept or reject, but instead are just trying to get Republicans elected"...?

What a tool this guy is.
 
Written By: Nathan
URL: http://brain.mu.nu/
All this can be countered with two words:

George Soros.

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
Don’t be silly, Jon. Lefties are made of sugar and spice and everything nice, wheras righties are made of spiders and snails and puppydog tails.
 
Written By: Matt McIntosh
URL: http://conjecturesandrefutations.net
And me, I’m too lazy to preview. Hurf. Link.

And to finish my thought, this crap is also totally irrelevant. You evaluate academics and pundits based on the quality of their work; everything else is just fluff.
 
Written By: Matt McIntosh
URL: http://conjecturesandrefutations.net
Well, to be fair, this may be related to the Doug Bandow incident at Cato. Bandow took money to write articles/editorials for specific groups. It’s one thing to write about the costs of restricted trade and to use the Sugar Trust and its effect on Brach’s as an example and another to be paid to write FOR Brach’s, using Free Trade merely as a propaganda tool.

I didn’t do this well, but it just seems to me that someone PAYING you to write about them is a bit different than writing about something, and that article supporting someone’s position. Plus, Bandow didn’t reveal is monetary arrangements with Cato (I believe) and his readers. So what might be taken as an article about free trade was REALLY an article about Brach’s and Bandow ought to have informed his editors and readers of the arrangement. It would have at least made for a more transparent read.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
I think Krugman’s remarks represent a mental-set fairly common in the Left: that socialists are all idealists, and anyone opposing them is a a "lackey," a "mouthpiece," "a running dog," etc. In the Left cocoon, their side is so obviously right that anyone espousing contrary ideas must be doing so for venal motives (or simply to be evil). The only exception would be the "dupes." This mental set not only reflects the Marxist world-view that became popular in Democratic circles via the New Left during the McGovern era, but the increasing insularity of contemporary professional "liberals." In a way, I wish their conspiratorial world-view were correct: I’ve been a libertarian for about four decades now, and except for pittances received for the occasional op-ed article, haven’t really made much of a profit from it. I often think of something Jean Shepherd often said on his radio show: "Everyone badmouths ’selling out.’ Can anyone tell me where you go to ’sell out’? I’d love to ’sell out’!" Me, I’d like to go from "dupe" to "capitalist hireling," so if any bloated, pro-freedom Mr. Moneybags wants to pay me for advocating ideas and principles I believe in anyway, I am, as Val Kilmer’s Doc Holiday says, "your huckleberry."
 
Written By: Bilwick
URL: http://
Joe—Bandow was a man acting on his own who basically lied to his employers (Cato) about his relationship with Abramoff, and none of his Abramoff-bankrolled editorials were endorsed by Cato in any way. When Cato found out, they promptly fired him. There would be no excuse for using this sort of incident to tar Cato or "right-wing think tanks" in general.

While I agree that full disclosure should be considered standard practice for opinion pieces and journalism, I don’t understand the general implication that getting paid to write an article somehow makes a person less "trustworthy" than someone who writes out of ideological devotion. In my experience, the latter are just as prone to intellectual dishonesty and shoddy work.
 
Written By: Matt McIntosh
URL: http://conjecturesandrefutations.net
Professional writers actually taking money to write. Amazing.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Joe—Bandow was a man acting on his own who basically lied to his employers (Cato) about his relationship with Abramoff, and none of his Abramoff-bankrolled editorials were endorsed by Cato in any way. When Cato found out, they promptly fired him. There would be no excuse for using this sort of incident to tar Cato or "right-wing think tanks" in general.


I agree, as I said, I wasn’t doing the job well, but I was trying to make a point that Krugman wasn’t ENTIRELY wrong in his complaint. Not to smear ALL think tanks or Cato, in particular.
Professional writers actually taking money to write. Amazing.


Well in Bandow’s case he was writing, supposedly, as a pure writer, when in fact he was a paid political hack... It’s the difference between Peggy Noonan in the WSJ and Peggy Noonan writing for a President. In the WSJ I expect to her to argue a point, presumably one she believes in, whereas as a speech writer she is articulating SOMEONE ELSE’S point of view. Bandow presented himself as one, but was in reality another.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
timactual wrote:
"Professional writers actually taking money to write. Amazing."
Score! Three point shot.

Joe imagines he has a valid point when he writes:
"It’s the difference between Peggy Noonan in the WSJ and Peggy Noonan writing for a President."
When the question that is first and most importantly answered is what has been written. All other considerations are of far lesser magnitude.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp

 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
No Tom, Bandow’s paymaster IS important. When Dr. Whoozit of the University of Slippery Rock produces a paper detailing the generally pernicious effects of gum drops it carries a bit more weight than a press release detailing the same facts from the "Death to Gum Drop Manufacturers Action Network." Simply because the Dr’ work is viewed as more independent and therefore more likely to be correct. Bandow was paid to ACT AS IF he was discovering that a particular policy to detrimental to a group, when in fact, HE WAS PAID TO FIND IT DETRIMENTAL. Had Mr. Bandow revealed his payment arrangement(s) it would have been OK. I might have taken his argument with a bit more critical thought than I otherwise might have, but it would have been OK. Bandow and Abramhoff were seeking to conceal the partisan nature of the relationship to author and article. And that is a bit of a fraud.

Do I accuse YOU of this or ALL conservative/libertarian thinkers, no, just that I thought it worth mention that ONE thinker got into a jam for this.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Paul Krugman went on to warn journalists against giving "equal time" to accusations that pay for punditry is a bipartisan sport, because "this is overwhelmingly a story about Republican lobbyists and conservative think tanks".


I didn’t know that Kos (Dean) and Oliver and Atrios (Soros) were "conservative think tanks"....

pay for punditry

Sorta like what Krugman does writing his punditry for his NYTimes paychecks?
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Actually Shark, I was waiting for someone to at least MENTION that Krugman received money from Enron, for "Consulting" I believe it was. Not exactly the same thing, but Mr Krugman discussing the ehtics of writers receiving cash from sources other than their usual paymaster(s) is kind of funny.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Paul Krugman went on to warn journalists against giving "equal time" to accusations that pay for punditry is a bipartisan sport, because "this is overwhelmingly a story about Republican lobbyists and conservative think tanks".

"Who else is on the take?" Krugman asks, after suggesting that "journalists set out to track down those people with ’similar arrangements’".

Well, far be it from me to disabuse Paul Krugman of his notion that this is an entirely right wing story, but some people have looked into this sort of thing.
It is one thing to respond to Krugman’s assertion. It is entirely another thing to respond to an assertion Krugman did not make.

Krugman said the story is overwhelmingly a right-wing story. He did not say that it was entirely a right-wing story. Therefore, the fact that there may have been a couple of instances in which left-leaning "journalists" engaged in similar behavior does not in any way contradict Krugman’s assertion. I would suspect that Krugman chose his terms deliberately, if only to innoculate him from the apparent need of others to "disabuse" him of certain notions he never subscribed to in the first place.

But this kind of sophistry is part and parcel of the right-wing play book when it comes to allegations of corruption and influence peddling. The Abramoff scandal is a great example. Despite the fact that Abramoff was a Bush pioneer, despite the fact that he directly wrote $200k in checks to Republicans between 92 and 05, despite the fact that he has never himself given a dime to a Democrat, and despite the fact that his whole raison d etre was to cut Democrats entirely out of being on the receiving end of lobbying contributions, just the other day we saw the following announcement (from the Hill):
The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) is planning a public-relations offensive tying leading Democrats to lobbyist Jack Abramoff in an effort to neutralize accusations that Republicans have been embroiled in a “culture of corruption.”
As for Krugman’s point, yes, it is OVERWHELMINGLY a right wing story. Not entirely, but overwhelmingly. And yes, it has been a very effective tool for the right wing. This kind of pseudo-journalism has helped the GOP become the majority party. (David Brock’s recent book on the subject is a good start.) I wish the Dems would do more of it. And no, two or three examples from the "left" do not undermine Krugman’s point - not in the least.





 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
Don’t be silly, Jon. Lefties are made of sugar and spice and everything nice, wheras righties are made of spiders and snails and puppydog tails.
I’m not trying to start any rumors or anything, but I wonder just how much money Matt Macintosh is taking from the Sugar and Spice Politico-Industrial Complex?
And to finish my thought, this crap is also totally irrelevant. You evaluate academics and pundits based on the quality of their work; everything else is just fluff.
That’s very true. I do think that undisclosed payment crosses an ethical boundary, but Krugman’s argument that right wing think tanks enforce some sort of uniform policy line is bunk. Every think tank has political pundits who generally endorse the ideologies and policies accepted by the think-tank. That’s their raison d’etre and it’s incredibly foolish of Krugman to argue otherwise.

Of course, Mr Krugman is welcome to disprove me by, for example, pointing to all the EPI wonks who disagree with progressive taxation, etc.
I didn’t know that Kos (Dean) and Oliver and Atrios (Soros) were "conservative think tanks".... ... Sorta like what Krugman does writing his punditry for his NYTimes paychecks?
The source of their funding is openly acknowledged. There’s no ethical equivalence.
Actually Shark, I was waiting for someone to at least MENTION that Krugman received money from Enron, for "Consulting" I believe it was.
Again, that’s not the same thing at all.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Krugman said the story is overwhelmingly a right-wing story. He did not say that it was entirely a right-wing story.
That’s an excellent point. However, Krugman advocates that journalists "resist the temptation" to give equal time to stories of left wing pay-for-play. He rather clearly wants this to be "an entirely right wing story", regardless of the actual "balance".

I could have phrased it better, but I think what I wrote was accurate. (with the important word being "story")
The Abramoff scandal is a great example.
I didn’t mention the Abramoff scandal in this post. As far as I’m concerned, he can go down. And I hope he takes every corrupt politician he’s infected down with him. But that was not the point of this post.
And no, two or three examples from the "left" do not undermine Krugman’s point - not in the least.
You don’t think so? I mean, one of those examples was instrumental in passing the 1st ammendment abomination Campaign Finance Reform. And the other is behind one of the most insidiously effective anti-capitalist movement in current politics—one that’s being quite successful at motivating smaller jurisdictions to pass restrictive laws.

Meanwhile, Bandow, Ferrara, and Williams....did what? Any bills passed? Anything? It was grossly unethical—and in Williams case, judged illegal—but it was hardly as momentous as, for example, CFR.

Really, though, I’ve no interest in counting points on either side, precisely because I don’t think there’s any intrinsic partisan nature to this sort of thing. Of course it’s bipartisan. I think ill of it, and I think doubly ill of people who want it to be a partisan stick, rather than an endemic problem to be resolved in a bi-partisan manner.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Again, Krugman was cautoining against the "both-sides-do-it" approach. Can you seriously maintain that the left matches up to the right when it comes to think tank-ism and the propaganda the tanks tend to breed? AEI, Cato, Discovery Institute, Heritage, American Conservative Union, Americans for Tax Reform, Hoover, Federalist, Traditional Values Coalition, etc. Don’t forget PNAC. All right wing tanks - and the Left has what? People for the American Way and the Center for American Progress.

The thinking of these groups has led to the debacle that is Iraq, the deficit, the War on Science, the War against the UN, and a host of other right wing causes. Indeed, 80 years after the monkey trial we are still debating whether creationism should be taught in schools? Why? Well, no small thanks go to right wing think tanks.

Sorry, but there is no moral equivalency on this issue either.

 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
MK;

So, because someone pays for a mouthpeice we’re not supposed to take them seriously?

What then of Soros and Air America? I mean, granted, nobody listens to them anyway, but there it is....

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
Blah blah blah, what all of this boils down to at the end is the standard Democrat whine that they can’t get their message out as well as the GOP for whatever reason, and that’s why they’re losing.

Yet another link in the chain of the VRWC.

Don’t these paranoids ever get tired of this black helicopter shit?
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
The thinking of these groups has led to the debacle that is Iraq, the deficit, the War on Science, the War against the UN, and a host of other right wing causes. Indeed, 80 years after the monkey trial we are still debating whether creationism should be taught in schools? Why? Well, no small thanks go to right wing think tanks.
For a minute there I thought you were supporting the other side. Then I read again and saw the words that give you away... ’debacle’ in Iraq. ’War’ againt the UN. Yadda Yadda. Just another reason to call you Billy Madison and be done with it.

Come on - I’ll accept we’ll disagree about what’s going on in Iraq because it is still happening. But the UN? You have 60 years or so of data there. You seem (sometimes) to at least have head on you shoulders. Do you not see the problems inherent with the UN?
 
Written By: meagain
URL: http://
For a minute there I thought you were supporting the other side. Then I read again and saw the words that give you away... ’debacle’ in Iraq. ’War’ againt the UN. Yadda Yadda. Just another reason to call you Billy Madison and be done with it.

Come on - I’ll accept we’ll disagree about what’s going on in Iraq because it is still happening. But the UN? You have 60 years or so of data there. You seem (sometimes) to at least have head on you shoulders. Do you not see the problems inherent with the UN?
Just when I think wingers don’t always react knee-jerk style, you manage to prove me wrong.

I AM COMPLEMENTING winger think tanks. As I said above, they have the left outgunned and outflanked. They control the debate and the topics debated and the tone of the debate.

Again, the monkey trial was 80 years ago. I don’t see people marching in the street demanding that creationism be taught in the schools. There is no popular uprising. Heck, when the voters went the polls, they booted the Dover school district board en masse.

So why are we having this debate again? Because there are well funded think tanks out there who have the money to litigate cases and fund candidates who espouse their point of view.

Most wingers get this, but it makes them feel uneasy, because it is a house of cards on one level. What happens if the funds run out?

As for the UN, it kicked ass in the Gulf in ’91, for starters. And it was as bad then as it is now. Worse, actually. After all, the USSR was still on the Security Council. For some reason, wingers had no problem with that - at least none that would get them upset enough not to go to the UN for a war resolution. We are talking about the USSR - the most murderous nation in the history of mankind.

But a few years later, the UN is horrible because it seems ineffectual and corrupt. Well, so is the Bush administration. So what? Remember when wingers were convinced that the UN was flying black helicopters around the US a few years ago? It was about to take over the world.

Since then, I cannot take any winger position on the UN seriously. Wingers simply do not deserve respect when it comes to crituiqing the UN. You lost me with the black ’copters.
 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
MK says: “I AM COMPLEMENTING winger think tanks.”
Somewhere, MK, in those agonizing years of travail in learning the ways of the law, did you not learn that expressing yourself correctly is important? What you have told us above is that you are assisting and adding to the efforts of winger think tanks. Is that what you meant? If so, you are doing a poor job.
 
Written By: notherbob2
URL: http://
Can you seriously maintain that the left matches up to the right when it comes to think tank-ism and the propaganda the tanks tend to breed?
I don’t think the Left has pursued think-tanks to quite the degree that the Right has, but that’s simply been a matter of emphasis, rather than one of total effort.
All right wing tanks - and the Left has what? People for the American Way and the Center for American Progress.
Brookings, Urban, EPI, Twentieth Century Fund, CBPP, Center for Law and Policy, Carnegie, Commonwealth Institute, Center for National Policy, etc...
Indeed, 80 years after the monkey trial we are still debating whether creationism should be taught in schools? Why? Well, no small thanks go to right wing think tanks.
Well, it might have something to do with the fact that a vast majority of Americans—Republican or Democrat—believe in creationism or Intelligent Design. Discovery Institute is the only think tank I’m aware of that supports ID. When asked recently, most right wing pundits expressed no approval of ID. You’ll find similar takes on this blog and others.
As for the UN, it kicked ass in the Gulf in ’91, for starters.
No, the US kicked ass—militarily and diplomatically—in 91. The UN, however, did provide a nice meeting place in which we could conduct the diplomacy.

The UN is a useful tool when not taken too seriously. When we allow it to supplant US national interests in the prosecution of our foreign policy, we risk paralysis.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
The UN is a useful tool when not taken too seriously. When we allow it to supplant US national interests in the prosecution of our foreign policy, we risk paralysis.
Completely valid.

But for MK to take it seriously, he’s going to have to get over the small mountain that is the asumption that the US are the good guys. He cannot bring himself to that pass, therefore he can’t take such statements seriously. He, like most left wingers, goes ever and always under the idea that the US and it’s actions need to be somehow limited by some higher force.. and he sees the UN as this force.

My read, anyway.



 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com

 
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