It’s Like There’s A Circumscribed Range Of Professionally Acceptable Opinions

Oh wait, you thought I was referring to Republicans? Nope (boldface mine):

The New America Foundation has received more than $21 million from Google; its parent company’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt; and his family’s foundation since the think tank’s founding in 1999. That money helped to establish New America as an elite voice in policy debates on the American left.

But not long after one of New America’s scholars posted a statement on the think tank’s website praising the European Union’s penalty against Google, Mr. Schmidt, who had chaired New America until 2016, communicated his displeasure with the statement to the group’s president, Anne-Marie Slaughter, according to the scholar.

The statement disappeared from New America’s website, only to be reposted without explanation a few hours later. But word of Mr. Schmidt’s displeasure rippled through New America, which employs more than 200 people, including dozens of researchers, writers and scholars, most of whom work in sleek Washington offices where the main conference room is called the “Eric Schmidt Ideas Lab.” The episode left some people concerned that Google intended to discontinue funding, while others worried whether the think tank could truly be independent if it had to worry about offending its donors.

Those worries seemed to be substantiated a couple of days later, when Ms. Slaughter summoned the scholar who wrote the critical statement, Barry Lynn, to her office. He ran a New America initiative called Open Markets that has led a growing chorus of liberal criticism of the market dominance of telecom and tech giants, including Google, which is now part of a larger corporate entity known as Alphabet, for which Mr. Schmidt serves as executive chairman.

Ms. Slaughter told Mr. Lynn that “the time has come for Open Markets and New America to part ways,” according to an email from Ms. Slaughter to Mr. Lynn. The email suggested that the entire Open Markets team — nearly 10 full-time employees and unpaid fellows — would be exiled from New America….

While she asserted in the email, which was reviewed by The New York Times, that the decision was “in no way based on the content of your work,” Ms. Slaughter accused Mr. Lynn of “imperiling the institution as a whole.”

Mr. Lynn, in an interview, charged that Ms. Slaughter caved to pressure from Mr. Schmidt and Google, and, in so doing, set the desires of a donor over the think tank’s intellectual integrity.

“Google is very aggressive in throwing its money around Washington and Brussels, and then pulling the strings,” Mr. Lynn said. “People are so afraid of Google now.”

It is difficult to overstate Mr. Lynn’s influence in raising concerns about the market dominance of Google, as well as of other tech companies such as Amazon and Facebook. His Open Markets initiative organized a 2016 conference at which a range of influential figures — including Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts — warned of damaging effects from market consolidation in tech.

In the run-up to that conference, Ms. Slaughter and New America’s lead fund-raiser in emails to Mr. Lynn indicated that Google was concerned that its positions were not going to be represented, and that it was not given advanced notice of the event.

We are in the process of trying to expand our relationship with Google on some absolutely key points,” Ms. Slaughter wrote in an email to Mr. Lynn, urging him to “just THINK about how you are imperiling funding for others.

This is why this old-timey liberal Democrat has trust issues with the center-left-ish professional Democrats. Too many of them work at policy chop shops for me to believe they have rank-and-file Democrats interests at heart. As I noted yesterday about healthcare policy:

One issue is that Yglesias assumes most Democratic-aligned wonks want a good, universal system. It’s not clear to me that those ensconced within the party-aligned think tanks actually want to do this (plenty of them were cool with the Clinton line of opposing ‘free’ public college education, even though we could rearrange current subsidies to cover this–though that might affect said wonks personally). Ideologically, many of them are neo-liberals sensu Sawicky.

Of course, when ideology and money converge, all is well.

And back when Joy Reid unleashed some weapons-grade cynicism about corporate donations to politicians, I argued we need to understand what those donations are buying. Well, we need to understand how those donations are affecting the political ideas coming from the left-ish policy shops. Your life could literally depend on it.

An aside: I wonder how many of the compromised (not the fired ones) think tankers have decried biomedical scientists receiving corporate funding. Just asking.

Second aside: In hindsight, she would have been an awesome member of a Clinton administration, wouldn’t she? (likely would have happened–and, yes, still much better than the current alternative).

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1 Response to It’s Like There’s A Circumscribed Range Of Professionally Acceptable Opinions

  1. NotMarkT says:

    The self-serving “do well by doing good” Democratic Party apparatchiks are rotten to the core.

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