All it took was an hour of damaging Twitter comments and press attention, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren had claimed another prize.
News broke at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday that the liberal Massachusetts firebrand was blasting Brookings Institution scholar Robert Litan because a mutual-fund company paid for his research criticizing an Obama administration proposal to regulate the industry. By 9:30 a.m., Litan — an economist and former adviser to President Bill Clinton — was out.
That,despite indications from Brookings’ senior management just the night before that it would all blow over.
“I had no indication until the end that I would be asked to leave,” Litan told POLITICO on Wednesday. “I’d be reprimanded.”
Litan’s departure is already prompting backlash among some economists and rival think tankers, who say Warren’s crusade and Brookings’ response could have a chilling effect on research.
“This is McCarthyism of the left," said Hal Singer, a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute and co-author of the research Warren criticized. “What Warren is doing is suppressing scholars [who] speak independently through her threats.”
Here is a Hill newspaper story entitled "Ousted Brookings Economist Lashes Back at Warren."
The only conclusion Think Tank Watch has from the this weeks events is that Brookings will not be inviting Elizabeth Warren over for any events anytime soon...
Update: The Washington Examiner interviewed Dr. Litan, who was quoted as saying that he thought he had resolved months ago any concerns that Brookings had over an industry-funded study he did.
Dr. Litan said he was contacted this week by a "high-ranking individual" at Brookings (who he declined to name) who told him that there was "a lot of distress over the whole situation."
The article also quotes Kevin Hassett, Litan's think tank friend over at the conservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI), who said that Brookings' reaction was unfortunate. He said that Litan was part of a "dwindling minority of serious scholars at Brookings unafraid to stand by conclusions that irritated liberals."
Added Hassett: "This makes Brookings look like the Elizabeth Warren Rapid Response Team. It's chilling to see him go."
Update2: Politico has a new quote from Public Citizen's Bart Naylor: "The shill game where Wall Street Pays for ersatz studies under the banner of prestigious universities and think tanks must end."
Also, Slate notes that financial services firms have set up their own think tanks to produce studies of interest.
And as Wall Street Journal is reporting, several Democratic economists have come to the defense of Dr. Litan, including Bowman Cutter of the Roosevelt Institute.
Here is National Review's take on the whole Warren-Brookings incident.
Update3: Here is a piece by L. Gordon Crovitz in WSJ entitled "In the Tank for Elizabeth Warren," with the subheading "Brookings has been mugged by the reality of progressive animus for dissenting views."
Here is a piece by Jason Stahl (in Salon) entitled "Elizabeth Warren's Giant Leap to the Left: Why Her War With a Corporate-Friendly Think Tank Matters."
Some say it was unfortunate that Brookings didn't require Mr. Litan's resignation last summer. (In response to a Strobe Talbott piece in WSJ, saying that Warren had nothing to do with Litan's exit.)
Here is the New York times piece "Is Money Corrupting Research?" which mentions that Warren-Brookings incident.
And here is the Daily Caller on "Why Warren's Witch-Hunt Won't Work."