Sunday, September 7, 2014

Think Tanks Rush to Defend Funding Policies Amid NYT Report

It was the story that awoke the think tank world from the quiet end of summer.

I am referring to the major New York Times investigative report titled "Foreign Powers Buy Influence at Think Tanks," written by Eric Lipton (NYT reporter), Brooke Williams (journalism fellow at Harvard's Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics), and Nicholas Confessore (political correspondent for NYT).

Rather than list the highlights from the report, Think Tank Watch has put together reaction from the think tank community and beyond:

  • Here is Brookings President Strobe Talbott's response to the New York Times piece; and a statement by Brookings.
  • Rep. Frank Wolfs (R-VA) says Brookings should stop taking funds from foreign governments, including Qatar. 
  • Center for Global Development (CGD) statement in response to the NYT piece; and an updated CGD statement. 
  • Atlantic Council statement on donor policy.
  • Here is what David Roodman (formerly of CGD) has to say about the piece.
  • The Star Tribune points out the extra-special attention that Norway received in the piece.
  • The National Law Review weights in on whether think tanks should have to register with the Department of Justice under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).
  • Daniel Drezner in the Washington Post: "Why I'm not freaking out too much about the foreign funding of American think tanks."
  • Bloomberg View contributor Leonid Bershidsky says that think tanks aren't foreign agents.
  • Technician Online says that lawmakers should know where think tanks get their funds.
  • The Daily Caller headline: "Yikes!: Influential Think Tanks in the Tank for Foreign Governments."
  • Ian Bremmer said that Qatar "giving scads of money to Brookings doesn't mean they're biased as a think tank.  It just means you shouldn't follow them on Qatar." 
  • Lauren Kirchner in The Baffler: Think Tanks for Sale
  • Tevi Troy points out that no conservative think tanks are mentioned in the NYT piece as receiving funding from foreign governments. 
  • InTheCapital: How foreign governments run the show at DC's think tanks.
  • Glenn Greenwald: "NYT think tank story has taken a jingoistic tone for some, as though the problem is foreigners buying influence as opposed to influence-selling." 
  • The American Conservative: "Think Tanks Go Lobbying as Washington Lines Blur." 
  • John Judis in New Republic: "Foreign Funding of Think Tanks Is Corrupting Our Democracy."
  • What Motley Fool had to say about the NYT article and think tanks.
  • Tom Medvetz, author of Think Tanks in America, weighs in
  • Actress-playwright "surprised" by NYT think tank article. 
  • City Paper: "In Washington, influence is a buyer's market." 
  • Inside Philanthropy: How Scary is it When Foreign Governments Give Money to Think Tanks? 
  • Do Israeli officials now mistrust Brookings?
  • Eric Lipton, James McGann, & Joseph Sandler debate foreign government influence at think tanks (KQED radio; Brookings, CGD, Atlantic Council, and CSIS decline appearance). 
  • Brooke Williams interviewed about NYT think tank piece. 
  • Breitbart: NYT think tank article provides proof that Muslim Brotherhood influences operationsin the US? 
  • On Think Tanks weighs in on the NYT think tank piece. 
  • Transparify says it is not involved in the NYT piece.  Till Bruckner of Transparify comments via Huffington Post
  • Robin Davies of Development Policy Centre weighs in.
  • James Gibney in Bloomberg View: Does Your Think Tank Accept Rubles?
  • Economist: Foreign Funding on NGOs. 
  • David Post, Nancy Birdsall's husband, calls the NYT piece a "hatchet job."
  • BloombergBusinessWeek on the NYT think tank piece. 
  • Matthew Continetti in Washingon Free Beacon: Stop foreign governments from buying American think tanks.
  • Gawker: Foreign government sure are donating a lot to America's think tanks.
  • Lawmaker assails foreign donations to think tanks.
  • Stephen Walt: Despite NYT piece, there's more discussion of ISIL's funding sources than of most DC's think tanks; Walt comments in Foreign Policy
  • Comedian Stephen Colbert on the whole think tank situation.
  • JNS: How independent is a think tank funded by "Hamas-backing Qatar?"
  • House proposal would require think tanks to disclose foreign funding. 
  • Breitbart on Brookings, Qatar and US's former Chief Israel-Palestine negotiator.
  • Jewish groups call on Brookings to return $14 million to Qatar. 
  • Azerbaijan and think tank funding; Saudi Arabia and think tank funding.
  • Iran's PressTV: US corruption is the price of empire.
  • "Mr. Think Tank" James McGann defends US's 1,800+ think tanks and 20,000+ scholars.  [Brooke Williams tells Think Tank Watch that she has never met/spoken with Dr. McGann.]
  • Think tanks, fundraising, and what money shouldn't buy, by David Blankenhorn of Institute for American Values (IAV).

Here is an information graphic from the report showing which countries give to nine major think tanks:  Atlantic Council, Brookings, Center for Global Development (CGD), Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Middle East Institute, German Marshall Fund, Inter-American Dialogue, Stimson Center, and World Resource Institute.

Think Tank Watch will be updating this post regularly throughout the week.  Stay tuned...