This needs to be read and understood by everyone on the right and in the libertarian movement. The left, from the White House through the IRS to newspapers like the Guardian, are waging a multi-front war against free speech.
Last week the left-wing British newspaper theGuardian published a trove of funding proposals that were privately submitted to the State Policy Network (SPN) — a nonprofit group that coordinates state-level efforts to enact free-market reforms — by state-based think tanks. (One of the documents was a proposal from our institution, the Texas Public Policy Foundation, about reforming Medicaid to better serve low-income Texans.) The publication of the documents is not so much a piece of investigative reporting as it is a modern-day recurrence of 19th-century yellow journalism.
The Guardian justified its actions on the grounds that the public needs “full and fair access” to the conservative groups’ plans, “to allow the public to reach its own conclusions about whether these activities comply with the spirit of non-profit tax-exempt charities.” The clear implication is that the groups in question are nefarious beneficiaries of “dark money” from corporate interests seeking to control state politics.
If the Guardian was being even-handed, seeking similar documents from left-wing groups, then its actions would be less objectionable. But it is only targeting groups on the right. The Chicago Sun-Times is too.
Perhaps most disturbing is that many in the mainstream media — not just left-wing outlets like the Guardian — not only approve of this kind of intimidation, but are willing to engage in it. The Chicago Sun-Times recently rejected an op-ed submitted by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy because the group would not cave to demands from the newspaper to disclose its donor list. The Sun-Times then ran an editorial explaining that it wished it could “draw a red line” and reject all letters and op-eds from nonprofits that do not disclose their donors, and never use them as sources. The editors admitted that “highly credible organizations” like the ACLU and the NAACP also refuse to disclose their donor lists, but nevertheless claimed that groups like the Mackinac Center should be held to a “more skeptical standard,” because they haven’t been around as long — and, presumably, because they buck the liberal consensus.
Read the entire piece.
Back when I was working at the Texas GOP, I grew concerned about how a very few wealthy trial lawyers were building up astroturf activist groups on the left to attack Gov. Perry and other elected officials, using the media to give themselves the veneer of non-partisanship. I built up a dossier on how these groups are funded, who staffs them, how they operate, it took about a year to compile and was quite detailed. I took it to several media in the state. None of them bothered to look at it. But they’re more than willing to publish every crumb they can get on conservative groups, and I guarantee you that they get at least some of their tips from the Democrats and their allied groups.
The left’s prominent elected officials are part of the game too. While they rely on the likes of the Center for American Progress, the ACLU, the NAACP and other groups to run interference for them, advocate for them, run ads for them, and attack conservatives for them, they’re attacking conservative groups through both government power and media malpractice. The aim is intimidation, both of the groups and prospective donors who fear their donations will be made public by illegal IRS leaks and leftwingers in the media. Ultimately, the aim is to shut down free speech that doesn’t conform to the left’s lines — on everything.
Progressives once called this kind of behavior “suppression of dissent.” Now, they’ve made it business as usual.
Here in Texas, the Democrats’ own leading candidate for governor has a history of attacking free speech. Most in the media here don’t care to even report that fact.