Saturday, January 7, 2012

The 1 Percent Solution: Koch Brothers Bankroll Right-Wing ThinkProgress Clone [UPDATED]

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By Judd Legum

The Koch Brothers are worth $50 billion. They’ve bankrolled the Tea Party, the campaign against climate change science, and entire university departments to advance their right-wing agenda. The newest item on their shopping list: their own Center for American Progress.

This morning in Politico, Ben Smith breaks the news that the Koch Brothers and others on the right are launching a new organization explicitly modeled after ThinkProgress:
Impressed by the effectiveness of the liberal Center for American Progress, a group of conservative journalists and operatives are preparing to engage in their own sincerest form of flattery – launching an advocacy group with a similar name and mission but a very different target.

Part assault on CAP and part homage, the Center for American Freedom’s goal is to wage a well-funded assault on the Obama White House and the liberal domination of partisan online media.

Based in Washington, it will have an annual budget of “several million dollars,” according to its chairman, Michael Goldfarb, and will house a new conservative online news outlet, the Washington Free Beacon, edited by former Weekly Standard writer Matthew Continetti. It will also include a campaign-style war room led by two former chiefs of the Republican National Committee’s vaunted research operation.
The chairman, Michael Goldfarb — a former McCain spokesperson and the opinion editor for the Weekly Standard — was hired this year by the Koch Brothers to improve their image and advance their political agenda. (Officially, Goldfarb “declined to say” whether the Kochs were donors.)
Continetti, formerly of the Weekly Standard, recently wrote a gushing 8,000 word hagiography to the Kochs “blasting critics of Koch Industries and its billionaire owners.” In the article, Continetti did not mention that he received a fellowship backed, in part, by Koch money. He also did not mention that his fellow editor at the Weekly Standard, Goldfarb, was employed by the Kochs.
The new organization’s mimickry of ThinkProgress and CAP at times borders on comical. For example, Smith reports that “the new group’s mission statement, for instance, appears at points to be literally copied and pasted from CAP’s, with the word ‘freedom’ substituted for ‘progress.’”
Koch has issued a statement denying “any involvement” with the Center for American freedom. The statement does not mention that the chairman of the new organization is on their payroll or the other connections detailed above. They also deny providing any funding to the group.

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