Lefty blogger reveals White House censorship of tax-exempt nonprofit's writings
A former blogger with ThinkProgress, published by the Center for American Progress Action Fund, a 501c4 tax-exempt nonprofit that meets with IRS approval, has revealed the extent to which the White House coordinates with it, and censors what gets posted. If the IRS were even-handed, this could get its tax exempt status yanked, but don’t hold your breath.
Inspired by the defections from RT, the Russia-controlled cable news outlet, Zaid Jilani posted a blog on his own site, titled “How Working In Washington Taught Me We’re All A Little Like RT,” letting the cat out of the bag:
When I started working at ThinkProgress at the Center for American Progress Action Fund in 2009, I did so because it was an awesome platform to do good journalism. I knew that I disagreed with CAP on a number of issues, and that I wouldn’t be allowed to write things too harshly critical of President Obama — which half of senior CAP staff had worked for or wanted to work for — or the Democratic Party, or CAP’s corporate sponsors in the “Business Alliance.”
One of the controversial topics that was very constrained in our writing at ThinkProgress in 2009 was Afghanistan. CAP had decided not to protest Obama’s surge, so most our writing on the topic was simply neutral — we weren’t supposed to take a strong stand. Given that I had just moved up from Georgia, and the American South has a much higher proportion of its population in the Armed Forces, I felt particularly strong that we should oppose the continuation of the war. The people who ran CAP didn’t really agree. (snip)
…phone calls from the White House started pouring in, berating my bosses for being critical of Obama on this policy. Obama’s advisor Ben Rhodes — speaking of a staffer who follows policy set by others for his career path — even made a post on the White House blog more or less attacking my chart by fudging the numbers and including both the Iraq and Afghan troop levels in a single chart to make it seem as if the surge never happened (the marvels of things you can do in Excel!).
Soon afterwards all of us ThinkProgress national security bloggers were called into a meeting with CAP senior staff and basically berated for opposing the Afghan war and creating daylight between us and Obama. It confused me a lot because on the one hand, CAP was advertising to donors that it opposed the Afghan war — in our “Progressive Party,” the annual fundraising party we do with both Big Name Progressive Donors and corporate lobbyists (in the same room!) we even advertised that we wanted to end the war in Afghanistan.
But what that meeting with CAP senior staff showed me was that they viewed being closer to Obama and aligning with his policy as more important than demonstrating progressive principle, if that meant breaking with Obama. Essentially, they were doing the same thing to us RT America is telling its American producers to do now — align with your boss, who is the president of the country.
The Center for American Progress, a 501c3 organization, reported 2012 revenues of over 37.5 million dollars, and paid its CEO almost $300k. I do not have access to data for the 501c4 Action Fund, but no doubt its revenues are also substantial. All the fuss raised over the Koch Brothers is just noise. The real money is on the Left. The sad fact is that the Left in America enjoys vast subsidies through tax-exempt organization, not to mention a media industry whose largest members skew leftward. But for the propaganda advantages enjoyed by the Left, Americans would vote conservative by an extra 5 to 10 percentage points.