Liberal media outlets often bolster each other in creating an image of neutrality. On Wednesday’s Diane Rehm show on NPR, guest host Steve Roberts boosted New York Times reporter Eric Lipton in an hour devoted to think tanks and whether their donors are just buying flimsy research to aid their lobbying.
“And Eric, you work for an organization at The New York Times, which, in its way, tries to hew to the same values that Bill [Antholis] was talking about about Brookings. An independent source of facts that people can agree on, apart from politicization. Your take on the debate that your two colleagues have been having here.”
As a reporter, chin-tugging Lipton always wants to know which donors are funding think-tank research to see if those donors skew the results in favor of their own interests. (You might just use George Soros donating $1.8 million to NPR as an example). Donors make the end product biased, argued the allegedly unbiased Mr. Lipton of the Times:
LIPTON: I think the point that Tevi [Troy] makes, which is that, you know, the scholarship is what matters, and that the internet can sort of, you know, to figure out bias, is not actually -- I don't entirely agree with that.
Because, the pace of policy discussion in the world today has so quickened, and the internet, and the way things can sort of be released and then boosted into, you know, the story of the day so quickly means that there isn't the time to -- for the knockdown of that report. And that's why the first thing I want to know is well, who funded it, you know?
And again, it's not gonna mean that I'm gonna -- I just want to know that information as I'm being given the report, so I can evaluate it. And as I think about -- okay, as I read the report -- that helps me more quickly than I'm able to sort of knock down the facts, because it's information you want to know.
Lipton claims to dislike how think tanks are used as surrogates for powerful interests that don't want their name attacked to a policy idea or a political proposal -- ahem, the way powerful interests often use reporters who then hide their source behind a wall of anonymity? That's why the reporter demanding transparency often looks like a hypocrite.
LIPTON: They become, to me as a reporter, increasingly used as surrogates which is a corporation or an entity that wants to get something done will go to an entity and say, can you write up a report, you know, that will essentially make this point? Then the report will be released. Then...
It will be distributed on Capitol Hill. Maybe the organization that asks for it will issue a press release calling attention to it but not to claim credit for having initiated it. And then it goes to specific media groups that are, you know, familiar to them and that are, you know, sympathetic to that side.
And each has its own sort of line of media that it uses. And then there's this echo chamber effect of, you know, it's repeated and then the think tank is cited and then the organization that essentially, you know, solicited it and repeats it and it creates this whole process of, you know, surrogates.
Check out out Eric Lipton archive if you think this man's never been unbiased.