Why Isn’t Brookings Labeled ‘Liberal’? Maybe Because It Isn’t

New York Times public editor Clark Hoyt has not had a chance yet to respond to questions about his commentary on the ACORN hoax (FAIR Action Alert, 3/11/10), instead devoting his Sunday column (3/14/10) to a discussion of political labeling. It included this question:

Why is the American Enterprise Institute almost always called “conservative” in the Times, while the Brookings Institution seldom gets a label, although it has been described as a Democratic government in exile during Republican regimes?

First off, the right-wing AEI (Extra!, 3-4/99) is not “almost always called ‘conservative’ in the Times“; a Nexis search of the paper over the past year turns up 77 references to the think tank, of which 18 have the word “conservative” in the vicinity. Twenty-three percent of the time is not “almost always.”

And Brookings “has been described as a Democratic government in exile”–who, exactly, has described it thus? The only previous time that Brookings was described as a “government in exile” in the New York Times, it was a column (9/29/89) that said the think tank served as such for Democratic and Republican economists alike.

It would certainly be an odd shadow government for Democrats that provided a home for so many Republicans. While its current president, Strobe Talbott, was a deputy secretary of state in the Clinton administration, his predecessor, Michael Armacost, was an undersecretary of state under Reagan (Extra!, 11-12/98); the president before that, Bruce MacLaury, worked for Nixon’s Treasury Department (Extra!, 5/91). Brookings’ current roster of experts includes George W. Bush administration alumni like Ted Gayer, Mark McClellan and Ron Haskins–not to mention prominent Iraq War hawks Michael O’Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack (Extra! Update, 10/07).

About Jim Naureckas

Extra! Magazine Editor Since 1990, Jim Naureckas has been the editor of Extra!, FAIR's monthly journal of media criticism. He is the co-author of The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error, and co-editor of The FAIR Reader: An Extra! Review of Press and Politics in the '90s. He is also the co-manager of FAIR's website. He has worked as an investigative reporter for the newspaper In These Times, where he covered the Iran-Contra scandal, and was managing editor of the Washington Report on the Hemisphere, a newsletter on Latin America. Jim was born in Libertyville, Illinois, in 1964, and graduated from Stanford University in 1985 with a bachelor's degree in political science. Since 1997 he has been married to Janine Jackson, FAIR's program director. You can follow Jim on Twitter at @JNaureckas.