City Desk

Center for American Progress Action Fund CEO Hijacks Matt Yglesias’ Blog

Matt Yglesias, wonky wunderkind, ardent liberal, and self-proclaimed expert on everything, pissed off his bosses at the Center for American Progress by bashing the think tank Third Way on his blog:

Third Way is a neat organization — I used to work across the hall from them. And they do a lot of clever messaging stuff that a lot of candidates find very useful. But their domestic policy agenda is hyper-timid incrementalist bullshit. There are a variety of issues that they have nothing whatsoever to say on, and what policy ideas they do have are laughable in comparison to the scale of the problems they allegedly address. Which is fine, because Third Way isn’t really a “public policy think tank” at all, it’s a messaging and political tactics outfit.

How do we know his bosses were upset? Because CAPAF CEO Jennifer Palmieri took over Yglesias' blog in the dead of night to post this disclaimer:

This is Jennifer Palmieri, acting CEO of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

Most readers know that the views expressed on Matt’s blog are his own and don’t always reflect the views of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Such is the case with regard to Matt’s comments about Third Way. Our institution has partnered with Third Way on a number of important projects – including a homeland security transition project – and have a great deal of respect for their critical thinking and excellent work product. They are key leaders in the progressive movement and we look forward to working with them in the future.

Palmieri is the kind of editorial commander that people like Rod Blagojevich dream about–someone who's willing to wade into the thick of a controversial editorial discussion and essentially negate everything objectionable. Not that this is surprising–CAP, after all, has advocated a revival of something that would resemble the Fairness Doctrine, though the brains at CAP wisely called it something else (because "the Fairness Doctrine never by itself fostered coverage of important issues in a way that spoke to the diversity of interests in local communities across our country." In other words, the Fairness Doctrine alone wouldn't do enough to get progressives on the air).

Funny, though, that CAP raves about conservative talk radio's threat to the First Amendment– "Our analysis revealed that conservative talk radio dominates the airwaves of our country—to the detriment of informed public discourse and the First Amendment"–and then turns around and encroaches on one of its blogger's editorial independence.

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  • Bobby

    There's no "editorial encroachment" here. Yglesias is writing under CAP's 501(c)(4)lobbying arm, and Palmieri's comment is a editorial clarification, not an encroachment. Many non-profit media start-ups, like CAP, have both non-partisan think tanks and more advocacy-based outreach units under the same wing - they're attributed separately for tax purposes. Yglesias shouldn't be taken as the Center's editorial voice on anything, really, as it could jeopardize CAP's relationship with important allies. Much like how columnists or op-ed writers don't represent the opinion of a newspaper, Yglesias doesn't represent the collective direction of CAP. Someone from Third Way might stumble across his post and take it as a company snubbing. When a writer's "editorial voice" functions within a non-profit umbrella organization, a CEO, like an editor, can provide disambiguation to the readers in the interest of organization. That's all Palmieri was doing.

    Oh, and your comparison of federal airwaves to a private organization doesn't hold up. I have faith in CAP's own policy of free expression, but Constitutional "free speech" applies to government entities, not private companies.

  • Mike Riggs

    @Bobby: Mind revealing who you work for? (Y'know, seeing as you're the first person on the entire Internet who's commented on this story in defense of Palmieri...)

  • CO

    I see what Bobby's saying... Palmieri is covering her tail with Third Way, while pointing out that the beauty of Yglesias's blog is that he gets to say pretty much what he wants even though it's hosted by CAP. I think this story is mostly funny for the inside baseball of the CAP/Third Way relationship, more than it is a serious "censorship" issue.