Dirty little secret 7: Almost every day brings forth a major analysis of a front-page issue from a “prestigious think tank.” What we are almost never told is that most of these think tanks receive huge donations from friendly and unfriendly foreign governments, giant foreign and domestic conglomerates, and wealthy political ideologues designed to influence our public debates (and government actions) in ways that are kept secret from voters, viewers and readers.
Several months ago the New York Times published a detailed investigative story listing a number of these think tanks and the sources of their largest donations. When commentaries and analyses are offered by experts who take substantial sums from special interests, shouldn’t we know who pays them to influence us?
Don’t get me wrong. Many think tanks produce high quality work that deserves to gain influence. I would cite the liberal-leaning Center for American Progress and the conservative-leaning American Enterprise Institute as often offering superb analysis from different points of view. There are others. But there is also propagandistic work by “experts” paid for by special interests with ulterior motives. I propose this money and these interests should no longer remain a dirty little secret.
Mr. Budowsky formerly served as a policy aide to Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-TX) and legislative director to Rep. Bill Alexander (D-AR).