Search Results for: Michael Dolny

Jul 1 2013

FAIR STUDY: Think Tank Spectrum 2012

Range of debate narrows as the status quo holds

dolny jim demint

Think tank researchers are often cited by news outlets to add context and analysis to a news story. They are often portrayed as objective or nonpartisan observers (Extra!, 5/98), and as Ken Silverstein recently explained in the Nation (5/21/13), that appearance can be quite valuable to corporate donors: Nowadays, many Washington think tanks effectively serve as unregistered lobbyists for corporate donors, and companies strategically contribute to them just as they hire a PR or lobby shop or make campaign donations…. “If you’re a lobbyist, whatever you say is heavily discounted,” says Kathleen Clark, a law professor at Washington University and […]

Jun 1 2012

Think Tank Spectrum Revisited

Conservatives gain within still-narrow spectrum

Heritage Foundation--Photo Credit: Heritage Foundation

THINK TANK MONITOR After a two-year hiatus, the FAIR think tank survey is back. In our last survey, using 2008 data (, 9/3/09), overall think tank citations were in decline, and that decline was most noticeable among conservative think tanks. The results for 2011 are the opposite: a good year for the top 25 think tanks, particularly for those that lean to the right. Centrist think tanks still dominate at 47 percent, but their citations dropped 2 percentage points from 2010, while the proportion of conservative or center-right think tank mentions inched up from 31 to 33 percent, and progressive […]

Sep 1 2009

Right Ebbs, Left Gains as Media ‘Experts’

Think tank balance still skews right

Special online-only study Progressive think tanks gained in media prominence over 2008, despite overall think tank citations declining for the fourth year in a row. The 25 most-cited think tanks in major U.S. media received 13,149 citations in 2008, a 6 percent decline from 2007 levels. The decline primarily hit conservative or right-leaning think tanks, whose share of citations in corporate media fell from 36 percent to 31 percent in 2008 , while progressive or left-leaning think tanks–the only group to actually see an increase in their total citations–went from 17 percent to 21 percent. Centrist think tanks saw little […]

Mar 28 2008

Study Finds Decline of Think Tank Citations in Media

Think tank citations in the media are dropping, but right and center still predominate, according to a new study by FAIR. The annual study, which FAIR has conducted since 1995, counts citations of the 25 most prominent think tanks of right, center and left, using the Nexis database. Citations for the 2008 study were counted in what Nexis designates to be major U.S. newspapers, as well as in transcripts of the broadcast networks ABC, CBS and NBC; the cable channels Fox News, CNN, MSNBC and CNBC; and publicly funded PBS and NPR. Among the findings for 2007: * The ideological […]

Mar 1 2008

The Incredible Shrinking Think Tank

Third year in a row of declining citations

The 25 most media-prominent think tanks were cited 17 percent less in 2007 than they were the year before, FAIR’s annual survey of think tank citations found. The decline was felt across the board among centrist, conservative and progressive think tanks. Once again, the centrist Brookings Institution garnered the most citations, with the general decline affecting them less than the average think tank. They accounted for 16 percent of all citations counted, with almost twice as many as the next-most-frequently cited think tank, the centrist Council on Foreign Relations. The American Enterprise Institute, Heritage Foundation and the Center for Strategic […]

Mar 1 2007

Think Tank Sources Fall, but Left Gains Slightly

Progressive groups still a small slice

FAIR’s annual survey of think tank sources produced a surprising result for 2006: While total think tank citations decreased for the second year in a row (before then, think tank citations went up every single year), progressive think tanks bucked the trend. Overall, the 27,877 citations that the 25 most-quoted think tanks garnered was a 4 percent decline from 2005. But progressive and left-leaning think tanks increased their exposure, up by 11 percent, having for the first time two think tanks in the top 10. Nevertheless, the media landscape remains dominated by centrist and conservative think tanks. Centrists led the […]

Jun 1 2006

Study Finds First Drop in Think Tank Cites

Progressive groups see biggest decline

FAIR’s annual survey of think tank citations in the mainstream media focuses attention on the groups that media turn to for “expert” sources. Rarely described politically when they are quoted (Extra!, 5-6/98), think tank sources often appear as neutral observers of the news, in contrast to partisan politicians and representatives of advocacy groups. If the media have a “liberal” bias, as conservatives have long claimed, then one would expect news outlets to seek out progressive think tanks as sources. However, in the history of this study, begun in 1996, we have instead found a consistent preference for conservative think tanks […]

Jun 1 2006

Sidebar: Defining the Think Tanks

[Note: this piece is a sidebar to Study Finds First Drop in Think Tank Cites] Our primary criteria for labeling the political orientation of a think tank are 1) its self-identification, 2) its stated policy positions and 3) how it is used in the media. The third criteria was applied, for example, to the Cato Institute, which gets far more media exposure for its conservative libertarian positions, such as privatizing Social Security, than it does for its more progressive libertarian positions, like decriminalizing drug possession or slashing corporate welfare. Some think tank political orientations, like those of the conservative Heritage […]