Search Results for: Lawrence Soley

Sep 1 1998

Heritage Clones in the Heartland

Local think tanks' "research" comes pre-digested

Conservative think tanks patterned after the highly successful Washington, D.C.-based American Enterprise Institute (1996 revenues: $16.5 million) and Heritage Foundation (1996 revenues: $28.7 million) opened up around the United States during the 1980s and early 1990s almost as quickly as Scholotzky’s Delis. Like Scholotzky’s, they have now reached saturation. Most states have one, some have several. For example, Colorado has the Center for the New West and the Independence Institute; Illinois has the Rockford Institute and the Heartland Institute; and New York has the Manhattan Institute and the Empire Foundation for Policy Research. Similar think tanks can be found in […]

Jul 1 1997

‘The Power of the Press Has a Price’

TV Reporters Talk About Advertiser Pressures

Sixty years ago, reporter and press critic George Seldes wrote in Freedom of the Press that advertisers, not government, are the principal news censors in the United States. Not only do advertisers pressure newspapers to kill or alter stories, he concluded, but newspapers censor stories out of deference “toward the sources of their money” without being told. Sixty years later, advertisers are still muscling newspapers. A survey of 55 members of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers at the society’s 1992 conference revealed that advertiser pressure was common. Eighty percent reported that the pressure was a growing problem, […]

Jul 1 1996

The Media’s Favorite Think Tank

How the Heritage Foundation Turns Money into Media

Based in a spacious brick building a few blocks from the Capitol, the Heritage Foundation is running the most effective media operation in American politics. Heritage has succeeded with a savvy strategy: Raise a lot of money from rich people with a right-wing agenda. Hire writers, commentators and out-of-office politicians who share that agenda, and call them “fellows,” “policy analysts” and “distinguished scholars.” And, always, back them up with a public-relations juggernaut that’s second to none. The big money came easy. Back in 1973, beer baron Joseph Coors contributed a quarter-million dollars to get the project rolling. Since then, some […]

May 1 1996

The Think Tank Spectrum

For the Media, Some Thinkers Are More Equal Than Others

The media are liberal, CBS correspondent Bernard Goldberg claimed in a recent column in the Wall Street Journal (2/13/96). His proof? CBS reporters are allegedly instructed to identify the Heritage Foundation as “conservative”–but in a story on the flat tax, his CBS colleague Engberg failed to label another Washington-based think tank, the Brookings Institution, as “liberal.” While Goldberg only provided this one anecdotal example, he could have found more cases. In January 1996, according to a search of the Nexis database, major papers cited Brookings 185 times; only once was the think tank referred to as “liberal.” (The vast majority […]

Sep 1 1995

By Any Means Necessary

The Ultra-Relativism of the Wall Street Journal Editorial Page

With the largest daily circulation of any national newspaper, 1.8 million, and with an affluent and elite audience, the Wall Street Journal is one of the most influential mainstream media organs. Its large circulation is based in substantial measure on its high-quality news offerings, which gives Journal readers a better-than-average view of reality. The paper also has an editorial page, which is under separate operating direction from the news department. A 1993 publisher’s report to Journal readers (presented in a full-page New York Times ad, 1/25/93) pointed out that “the Journal‘s editorial views do not guide or even influence the […]

Apr 1 1993

A Study of National Public Radio

NPR Logo

When founded two decades ago, National Public Radio defined itself as an independent alternative to mainstream commercial broadcasting. Unlike the corporate giants, NPR would “promote personal growth rather than corporate gain,” and “not only call attention to a problem, but be an active agent in seeking solutions,” according to the network’s 1971 mission statement. To this day, public radio fundraisers urge listeners, “Get the facts as you really can’t get them on commercial television” (WBUR, 10/21/92). And on many occasions, National Public Radio provides its listeners with exactly this—fuller, deeper news and a wider range of views. But a detailed […]

Oct 1 1992

Democracy Vs. Punditocracy

The handful of insiders who shape campaign news

Two years ago, NBC News senior vice president Timothy Russert penned a widely read op-ed (New York Times, 3/4/90) criticizing broadcast coverage of the 1988 presidential campaign. According to Russert, “the public felt cheated by the emphasis on flag-waiving and furloughs rather than on deficits and defense.” Russert insisted that in the future, the networks needed to avoid photo ops, while providing coverage of the issues and candidates records. Despite Timothy Russert’s lofty suggestions, network television coverage of the 1992 presidential campaign has looked eerily like 1988, complete with liberal-bating, stories of marital infidelity, an overemphasis on strategy and “horserace” […]

Apr 1 1991

Brookings: Stand-In for the Left

Too Many Conservative Columnists, Says Conservative

The most important think tank for the media on the Persian Gulf Crisis was the Brookings Institution. In August 1990 alone, the group’s representatives spoke 14 times on network evening newscasts, not counting appearances on Nightline, the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour or network news specials. A database search of citations in six national newspapers found 440 citations for Brookings, almost as many as the next seven top think tanks combined. Although network analysts imply that the Brookings Institution is a think tank of the left by balancing it against conservative institutes like the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the American […]