Recent articles and editorials on funding
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CAP Trade: How Hillary's think tank went for Obama

And, just when you thought the abandonment couldn't cut any deeper, it turns out that Obama has captured the affections of a Beltway institution widely seen as an unofficial outpost of Team Hillary: the Center for American Progress.

Michelle Cottle/The New Republic/March 2008

The [dot] Org Boom (Beyond Obama)

This [dot] Org Boom is the source of the surging youth vote that we've seen in the Democratic primary contest. It harnessed the power of Millennials early on, and created a progressive culture and infrastructure to channel their activism.

Michael Connery/TPM Cafe/March 2008

Outlining a progressive grand strategy

On the whole I think progressives tend to focus on expressly political power relationships, i.e. power relationships engendered directly by the government, and ignore cultural power relationships.

Shai Sachs/Planting Liberally/March 2008

Take Back America panel, The Power of Blogs: Beyond 2008

One of the issues I raised is that many talented, well-regarded bloggers on a variety issues don't work for a think tank or generate enough ad revenue to make a living blogging.

Pam Spaulding/Pam's House Blend/March 2008

The Conservative Youth Factory

In the 1970s, just as new conservative think tanks like the Heritage Foundation were finding their seed funding from a cadre of wealthy conservative families and foundations (Koch, Olin, Coors, Bradley), so too were conservative youth organizations finding their own angel investors.

Michael Connery/TPM Cafe/March 2008

The Argument

[Matt] Bai leaves us with a sense of a fascinating movement that is far less cohesive or understanding of its goals than the Goldwater conservative movement was (or, let's be frank, is).

Anthony Painter/e8voice/February 2008

Soros pours $2.5 million into new advocacy group

Billionaire George Soros is weighing in heavily with more cash, delivering $2.5 million to a new political organization called Fund for America.

Andrew Malcolm/Los Angeles Times/February 2008

Organizing online workers through a new consumer movement

I think the growing prominence of the Internet in daily life, and particularly the dominance of a few huge brands, like Google, Facebook and eBay, in many peoples' online experience, calls for the development of a more active and energized consumer movement.

Shai Sachs/Planting Liberally/February 2008

Research Groups Boom in Washington

Operating budgets are up at all of Washington's top two dozen research organizations -- liberal, conservative or bipartisan -- and philanthropy is feeding them.

Elisabeth Bumiller/New York Times/January 2008

A Movement Built To Last

The conservative movement is built to last --- even when it suffers electorally, the individuals within it pay no price, and the movement itself is reinforced.... Their movement is sustained by wealthy individuals and business interests who will make sure they have an endless supply of money.

Digby/ 2007

An entrepreneurial strategy for progressive cable TV

The basic strategy is simple: line up prime time leased access on cable channels in a number of major media markets, and put progressive programming in that time.

Shai Sachs/Planting Liberally/December 2007

Blogs Still In The Wilderness

Republicans, and even some Democrats, are on the same page as conservative media. No one, however, is on the same page with the blogosphere and other forms of progress media. We are in the wilderness.

Chris Bowers/Open Left/December 2007

Tilting Rightward: C-SPAN's Coverage of Think Tanks

A new study has found that C-SPAN overwhelmingly favors conservative think tanks in its coverage by a three-to-one margin over all left-of-center think tanks.

Center for Economic and Policy Research/December 2007

Lefty Think Tank Sells Itself on eBay

I've never even sold so much as a lamp on eBay, but the owners of a Bay Area think tank are taking the idea of peddling wares online to a whole new level: They're selling the whole damn tank.

Gary Moskowitz/Mother Jones/December 2007

Funding the Progressive Movement

The political mutual funds are the culmination of about two years of organizational soul-searching, market research, and some fairly intense grappling with the progressive political landscape.

Shai Sachs/Planting Liberally/November 2007

Campaigns raise stakes on nonprofits

Some major political players are expected to shift their money away from traditional campaign entities in favor of an old standby: the nonprofit.... Financiers who make up Democracy Alliance are among those who have funded nonprofits in the past and almost certainly will be doing so in the coming year.

Dan Morain/Los Angeles Times/November 2007

The 50 Year Strategy: A New Progressive Era (No, Really!)

The GOP's success in old media was essential to its ascent, while the emergent blogosphere and social networking sites play to progressive strengths. (Finally, decentralization and lack of hierarchy are an asset rather than a liability.)

Simon Rosenberg And Peter Leyden/ Mother Jones /November 2007

Adding progressive voices to cable news

The new FCC regulations, which appear to be focused on expanding access to cable news channels by liberalizing leased access rules, open up some interesting opportunities for bringing more progressive voices to cable news.

Shai Sachs/ MyDD/November 2007

House in Chaos

I suppose this is what bugs me about the Matt Bai-school of narrow thinkers more than anything, their complete failure to see anything outside of their own social worlds. As a result, they don't situate the blogs in a larger historical context, and think that the progressive movement is contained by Moveon and a few rich billionaires.

Matt Stoller/ Open Left /October 2007

Our Side Still Doesn't Get It!

Why are Republicans on the attack? Why is it easy to ridicule Clinton and Obama? All across the cable dial -- all around our big newspapers -- plutocratic scripts are peddled, as they've been peddled for the past many years.

Bob Somerby/ The Daily Howler /October 2007

Creating progressive traditional mass media

There are four kinds of traditional media which progressives need to watch carefully, and in which progressives should try to establish a foothold. In order of priority, I think they are: cable news, national newspapers, local newspapers, and talk radio

Shai Sachs/ Planting Liberally /October 2007

Strategies for Conservatives on the Web

[T]here's been almost no investment in the liberal blogs, which is dramatically different than what has gone on with the right side of the web ... While peripheral groups like the Center for American Progress, Media Matters, and Moveon do deploy capital, actual activists have almost zero support either institutionally or financially.

Matt Stoller/ Open LeftOctober 2007

The Rise of the Democratic Philanthocracy

Think of it - a small group of people, meeting and deliberating in secret, is dangling hundreds of millions of real and potential funding before a historically cash-starved crowd. And yet we know almost nothing about them.

Micah Sifry/techPresident/September 2007

How About the Billionaires?

Several of the commenters have made reference, in a complimentary way, to my reporting on the Democracy Alliance and its influence on progressive politics.... I myself am somewhat conflicted about the role that all these wealthy progressive donors play in the movement and in the book.

Matt Bai/ TPMCafe /September 2007

An Incomplete Argument

I found Matt's book frustratingly incomplete in two critical areas regarding the blogosphere: its narrow focus on the activist component of the blogs ... and that most critical element that gave rise to the blogosphere and drove its massive and meteoric success -- the failure of traditional media in our political discourse.

McJoan/ Daily Kos / September 2007

My Life Among the Neo-Cons

At one time, AEI's purpose was honest analysis of policy from a broadly heterodox conservative perspective; over time its purpose has been moving in the direction of reinforcing the interests of its donors and of the conservative power structure, right or wrong.

Mark Schmitt/TPM Cafe/September 2007

Bloggers and Billionaires, MoveOn and Howard Dean

While [Matt] Bai pays lip service to the energy and success of the grass roots and the netroots, he fundamentally doesn't trust it. It is not him. He can't accept that the grandest idea of the new politics is to spread the power and resources and get people involved. See also: How to Read a Beltway Book.

Don Hazen/AlterNet/August 2007

Matt Bai, "Democracy Alliance": How will progressives win?

The donors of the conservative movement who were so successful who were so important to that powerful political force - Coors, Scaife, Mellons. Those are roughly analogous to the liberal donors I write about, the progressives I write about in the book which are members of something called the Democracy Alliance.

Interviewed by Tom Ashbrook/WBUR Radio/August 2007

Iraq: The "Gift" That Keeps On Bleeding

"The Argument" is an important book but Bai muffed the title. He should have titled it "The Gift," because as Cuomo points out [in a speech to the Democracy Alliance] it was primarily the political gift of voter anger and revulsion over a horrific, continuing war that caused them to oust Republicans.

John Stauber/PR Watch/August 2007

And the winners are...

Five weeks ago, BlogPac put out a call to "find the five best new, grassroots progressive infrastructure projects in America, and provide those projects with the money, exposure, and connections necessary to get off the ground."

Chris Bowers/BlogPac/August 2007

YearlyKos Session: Connecting Major Donors to the Netroots

There is a gap between the emerging, effective approaches offered by netroots activists and the donors' desire to bring about effective political change - leading to a sustainable progressive majority in America.

Dave Johnson/Commonweal Institute/August 2007

YearlyKos: A culture of liberal entrepreneurship

I talked about "giving" in the sense not just of donating, but of giving one's talents to the progressive movement; in particular, in starting a business which uses one's talent to strengthen the progressive movement.

Shai Sachs/MyDD/August 2007

Why Fox News is Attacking Yearlykos

It's undeniable that the progressive movement is stalled.... Much of the urgency from Bush created the funding channel, so unless that sense of urgency returns, or unless an alternative argument for investment emerges, we will continue to fumble around, able to make noise but unable to govern.

Matt Stoller/Open Left/July 2007

Whither Progressive Online TV?

This week, as I watched the Bill O'Reily/JetBlue/YearlyKos drama unfold, I was also, coincidentally, reading Jeff Cohen's memoirs of his time in cable TV, "Cable News Confidential." The book got me thinking about the state of progressive TV, and it drew my attention to a gaping hole in progressive media infrastructure.

Planting Liberally/July 2007

OpenLeft Aims to Open Doors in DC

Two giants of the liberal blogosphere joined forces today with a longtime Washington consultant to launch a new website, OpenLeft, designed as a hub for dialogue between progressive outsiders and Washington insiders.

Ari Melber/The Nation/July 2007

Bloggers and Donors

There needs to be a serious, thoughtful strategy, and then bloggers need to begin patiently going out and asking for the money, because donors don't give unless they are asked and asked with a pitch that gives them a tangible value-added proposal to give toward. Responses: A Donor's Perspective & How Do You Fund Political Innovation?

Mike Lux/Open Left/July 2007

The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio

The Center for American Progress and Free Press today released the first-of-its-kind statistical analysis of the political make-up of talk radio in the United States. It confirms that talk radio, one of the most widely used media formats in America, is dominated almost exclusively by conservatives.

ThinkProgress/June 2007

Business incubator for liberal entrepreneurs

There seems to be a growing consensus that big donors are not going to save us. My proposed alternative is liberal entrepreneurship, and in particular, structures to support liberal entrepreneurs.

Planting Liberally/June 2007

What Cost Per Action advertising can do for the progressive movement

In a highly action-oriented environment like the blogosphere, cost per action seems like an ideal model for both advertisers and bloggers. Progressive bloggers are already exhorting their readers to take some action or another; why not get money for each action the readers take?

Planting Liberally/June 2007

Take Back America Conference - Building Bridges

Two years ago ... I felt it was attending a tired, demoralized gathering of people associated with the older, Washington-based, established, celebrity-driven issue-organizations... This conference was very different. More: Take Back America Blog.

Dave Johnson/Seeing the Forest/June 2007

Support Your Local Progressive Infrastructure

Mara Liasson of NPR reports on building a progressive movement: "Democrats and the progressive groups that support them have for years looked with envy at the political infrastructure built by conservatives."

The Mahablog/June 2007

Make blogging profitable

One of the key problems limiting the progressive movement is the difficulty of making blogging profitable and sustainable. The progressive blogosphere is a key component of the movement, but its health relies on the time availability and financial stability of individual bloggers.

Shai Sachs/MyDD/June 2007

How Democrats Should Talk

A consortium of liberal multimillionaires founded in 2005, the Democracy Alliance, has pooled its money for the purpose of backing existing and new ventures that might collectively amount to something like a progressive message machine.

Michael Tomasky/New York Review of Books/May 2007

Righting the left

Liberal groups that are approved for [Democracy] Alliance funding are now carving particular niches in the think-tank market, often directly squaring off against parallel conservative institutions.

Becky Perry/The World/May 2007

The Right Wing Noise Machine, v2.0

This year, there appears to be a wave of right-wing attempts to create a conservative Web 2.0. The idea is to leverage the semantic and social web in favor of conservative causes ... Primary examples of these efforts include QubeTV and Conservapedia.

Planting Liberally/May 2007

Making Blogging Pay

As bloggers become some of the progressive movement's most effective voices, the left still has not figured out how to provide them with the resources they need to keep going.

Beccah Golubock Watson/The Nation/April 2007

Revenue streams for liberal entrepreneurs

Last week I discussed the concept of liberal entrepreneurship.... The goal in that post was to give liberal entrepreneurs an idea of the kinds of problems which they can tackle, and to point out that liberal entrepreneurship has a very serious set of issues to address. Today I will focus on revenue streams available to liberal entrepreneurs.

Planting Liberally/My DD/April 2007

Venture Philanthropy Goes Into Politics

The New Progressive Coalition bases its business model on the idea that the progressive movement has historically supported candidates, not organizations ... The right, on the other hand, benefits from a robust network of think tanks such as the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute that keep ideas alive even when there's no election in the offing.

Jessi Hempel/Business Week/April 2007

In the Tanks for the Democrats

US News & World Report observes the furious activity among Democratic Party-aligned think tanks. "With the party back in power on Capitol Hill and an open field of presidential candidates to influence, they're racing to get their ideas out in white papers, newspaper op-eds, and conferences."

Center for Media and Democracy/April 2007

Drinking Liberally Reaches 200

Drinking Liberally, and its umbrella organization Living Liberally, are building a community that energizes and expands Liberal and Progressive America... Living Liberally is still figuring out how best to fund itself and acquire the resources it needs to build a sound organization that can become an even more effective force in the years to come.

Chris Bowers/Huffington Post/April 2007

Mark Green responds to criticism from [Sam] Seder's fans

Throughout the 'internets', listeners expressed mostly outrage at the decision to remove what some felt was Air America's best host. And they even took the fight to Air America's own site.

Liberal Talk Radio/April 2007

Can We Win for Progressive Change?

For the last 30 years, we have been on the political, organizational and policy defensive.... It was a period of right wing movement that controlled the debate and most of the major levers of power in the country.

Heather Booth/TPMCafe/March 2006

Money, Money, Money

I have heard a lot of complaints over the years, both by donors and recipients, about the randomness, trendiness and general lack of strategic thinking going into progressive giving patterns over the last 30 years. And there is some truth to all that. However, this picture is starting to change.

Mike Lux/The Huffington Post/March 2007

The Reach Of Progressive Blogs

There is no progressive noise machine. There is no coordination. There is no funded outreach to the general public... Yes, progressive blogs are read by media figures, informed opinion leaders and public officials, and that is very important. But we have very little effect on what the general public "knows."

Dave Johnson/Commonweal Institute/March 2007

Commonweal Institute and Building the Progressive Infrastructure

[A]fter studying what the right wing movement had been doing to make the country receptive to their worldview... they realized the need to be equally smart about building a progressive movement that could effectively move public attitudes so that progressive ideas and solutions could once more be heard and considered viable by the broader American public.

Mary Ratcliff/Pacific Views/March 2007

Announcing the Blue America Speaker's Bureau

There just aren't enough people on TV reflecting a progressive political perspective on a regular basis. The right has long had an advantage on this front - they identify people early, train them and book them just about anywhere to talk about just about anything.

Howie Klein/Firedoglake/March 2007

Q & A with Thomas B. Edsall, author of Building Red America

Had the Republicans maintained control of Congress, people would doubtless be poring through this well-researched work to get the answers to why. However, because Democrats regained control, Tom Edsall's work has been largely ignored. That is a serious mistake.

John Dean/FindLaw/March 2007

Air America 2.0 Begins Today

Air America was a large, smart idea to counter the near-monopoly on talk radio by the far (f)right. But like most start-ups, the business plan collided with reality. Six CEOs over its first three years - and various missteps and misspending - sent it into Chapter 11.

Mark Green/The Huffington Post/March 2007

Air America's Green Revolution

[Mark] Green's pugilistic instincts and the network's loudmouth partisanship seem to be a good fit. Together they might make the radio waves that save Air America. More: 'The Greening of America'

Keach Hagey/The Village Voice/March 2007

They Won't Know What Hit Them

Even as he has shied from the spotlight, [Tim] Gill has become one of the most generous and widest-reaching political benefactors in the country, and emblematic of a new breed of business-minded donor that is rapidly changing American politics.

Joshua Green/Atlantic Monthly/March 2007

Armchair Activism That Works

The conservative movement has always been able to raise large amounts of money from a relatively small number of sources. This money translates in turn into a relatively small number of people-politicians, lobbyists, think tank denizens, PR experts-paid to spend large amounts of time advancing the conservative project.

Martin Kearns & Jonathan Schwarz/ 2007

Building - Not Just Talking About - Permanent Progressive Infrastructure

Lots of people talk about building permanent progressive "infrastructure" to the point where the term "infrastructure" has become a political buzzword unto itself. But there's a difference between talking about things, and actually doing them successfully.

David Sirota/SirotaBlog/February 2007

Paying the New Politics

[T]here are a growing number of progressive billionaires or hectamillionaires, who are less than impressed with how the liberal establishment and Democratic Party have run things. One of them could be the Scaife of the progressive movement, and one of them will be.

Stirling Newberry/The Agonist/February 2007

The One-Way Flow Of Progressive Movement Money

If progressivism is going to continue to be on the rise in America, the one way flow of progressive movement money has to end. Not only do netroots activists have to do a better job of providing resources to build netroots infrastructure, we have to let the establishment know it needs to help build that infrastructure itself.

Chris Bowers/MyDD/January 2007

The Work Cut Out for Us

Somehow or other, someone must sow a healthy appetite for informed, discriminating political argument across large swaths of the electorate where it now appears lacking. Otherwise, public life will become wholly (what it now is largely) a marketing competition, and nothing more.

George Scialabba/The Nation/January 2007

Does Media Reform Have a Chance in the Digital Age?

In the face of our relatively puny media power, it behooves media reformers to use their resources and efforts to help convince funders, and investors that we need to build powerful media outside of the big media conglomerates.

Don Hazen/Alternet/January 2007

What Next For Media Reform?

Where were the demands on ... funders to invest in progressive media the way the rightwing foundations have with generous long-term commitments. Why aren't we lobbying them and not just to promote one institution? There seems to be no shortage of funding for holding conferences but sustaining Indy media is not really on the agenda.

Danny Schechter/ 2007

Digital Media Marketplace: The Next Frontier for Media Reform

If we are going to promote a society that is just, we will need to build a sustainable media infrastructure of local and national progressive multimedia programmers.... What we need is for progressive funders and others to invest in a sort of new media "Marshall Plan."

Jeffrey Chester/AlterNet/January 2007

The Right Gives Away Its Guidebook - Will We Listen?

I'm glad I held my nose and slogged through the nauseating conservative-glorifying language of "America's Right Turn," because the book tells a very empirical story about which path leads to victory and power, and which path leads to defeat and irrelevance.

David Sirota/Daily Kos/January 2007

On Movement Building: Institutions Versus the Cult of Personality

In the last five years, the nascent progressive activist movement has built a far more extensive list of prominent organizations than did the entire DLC-nexus from 1986-2002. Further, this difference is accelerating.

Chris Bowers/My DD/January 2007

The New Congress Needs Oversight Over MSM

By the time we started Air America, there were virtually no good stations available as outlets for the liberal audience. Air America did get nearly 100 affiliates to pick up the content, but all of these stations were low powered radio stations whose "reach" was and still is very limited.

Sheldon Drobny/Huffington Post/January 2007

How We Could Have a Better Press Corps

This country will never be healthy until new media institutions have been brought into being. National TV, national cable, national radio, and a national newspaper -- all new. Air America was a very small start, and it was very poorly supported. We need much more than that.

John Emerson/Seeing the Forest/January 2007

After Bankruptcy Filing, Recriminations Fly at Air America

At the root of its problems, some critics and competitors say, has been an inability to negotiate a middle path between its political mission and its business.

Elizabeth Jensen & Lia Miller/New York Times/December 2006

Reflections On an Important Year

It is a defining attribute of our age that an array of new technological and media tools are allowing many more Americans to participate in our politics in a more meaningful way, and allowing organizations much greater ability to manage and harness this latent activism for their ends.

Simon Rosenberg/New Democrat Network/December 2006

The Triumph Of New Media, New Politics, New Optimism and New Leadership

The internet is a vehicle for the personal expression of individuals, but: Far more powerfully, the internet is a vehicle for the creation of communities of common purpose, organization for common action, and cross-promotion of common causes, ideas and marketing.

Brent Budowsky/Huffington Post/December 2006

The 'Apparat' that won't go away

Its power centers remain intact, despite the Republican loss of Congress and the national crisis of confidence in the Bush administration. The wealthy foundations of the Republican oligarchy that seeded the movement continue generously to feed the American Apparat.

Jerry Landay/Media Transparency/December 2006

Air America, in the Throes of Victory?

Rush Limbaugh and other conservative radio talk show hosts have often noted that being on the outside, rallying the audience to action, is good for business. Being aligned with the party in power, not so good.

Marc Fisher/Washington Post/December 2006

How Vast the Left Wing Conspiracy?

Now that Democrats have, indeed, reclaimed a substantial piece of national political power, how important to the victory was the network of progressive think tanks, nonprofits, and political issue committees that [Byron] York described in his book? (video)

Hudson Institute/November 2006

Green Canary in the Progressive Coal Mine

To date, marketing capacity has been sadly lacking on the progressive side. Until moderates and progressives invest serious money in infrastructure functions like market research, language testing, narrative development, and strategic marketing services for the progressive movement as a whole, we're not going to make progress.

Katherine Forrest/Commonweal Institute/November 2006

How Do Progressives Connect Ideas to Action?

As Americans who are politically left of center move forward, questions of infrastructure, communication, and collaboration are particularly important. The progressivism of the past may contain valuable lessons as we build a strong new movement.

Open Society Institute Forum/Moderator, Bill Moyers/November 2006

How Billionaires Give Away Their Money

The modern philanthropist dislikes the term charity, preferring to speak about his social investments. His language is entrepreneurial, sprinkled with references to metrics, scalability, leverage, and venture philanthropy.

Jacob Weisberg/Slate/November 2006

Building the Movement with Small Dollars, San Francisco Style

New Progressive Coalition is the brainchild of Deborah Rappaport, and was founded in San Francisco. Most of its mission and methods appear to be directly adopted from the entrepreneurial and risk-taking ethos of San Francisco's dot-com industry.

Planting Liberally/October 2006

What does the winning movement of progressives look like?

The fight for the future is a culture struggle. It is a struggle the progressives can do really well in if we understand the stakes and reorganize infrastructure and investment to meet the challenges ahead.

Martin Kearns/Network-Centric Advocacy/October 2006

Introducing a Left-Leaning Fund

The Blue Fund, which is based on the S&P 500 index, has a primary screen that looks at federal political contributions. In order to qualify a firm's top three executives and its political action committee must be a net contributor to the Democratic Party over the last 10 years.

Rob Wherry/Smart Money/October 2006

Big $$ for Progressive Politics

Almost two years along, the [Democracy] Alliance's 100 donors have distributed more than $50 million to center-left organizations and activists ... Even as the donors pour millions into a new political infrastructure, however, problems have emerged that mirror many of the problems of the Democratic Party today and the progressive movement in general.

Ari Berman/The Nation/ October 2006

Articles & blog posts based on the above article:

We Are the Infrastructure

Donkeys or Elephants?

No More Dancing Bears


Here's A Hint

Seeing the Forest

Who's Gonna Pay for This?

Future Majority

Small dollars are the best way to build the movement

Planting Liberally

For Gill, it's not about the money

[Tim] Gill also is a player on the national stage, funneling more than $2 million into mostly Democratic causes, including the Democracy Alliance, a new group made up of dozens of the country's wealthiest donors who are lavishing money on think tanks and organizations to counter similar groups established years ago by conservatives.

Myung Oak Kim & Burt Hubbard/Rocky Mountain News/October 2006

Air America founders launch radio network

Sheldon and Anita Drobny are launching syndication service Nova M Radio days after a management struggle that resulted in Air America filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Former Air America radio personality Mike Malloy is joining the Drobnys' venture. More on Nova M Radio.

Michael Learmonth/Variety/October 2006

Why Air America Failed

The conservative movement has stumbled towards a political infrastructure that works for them. The nascent progressive movement is trying to replicate a structure that works for conservatives.

Ezra Klein/October 2006

The Fall Of Air America and A Bold Prediction

[F]or progressive talk radio to be a truly viable and successful business model and going concern, there must be strong integration between the audio world of radio progressives and the internet world of on-line progressives.

Brent Budowsky/Huffington Post/October 2006

How Progressives Can Win in the Long Run

Right-wing groups spend more than ten times as much on long-term political leadership development than we do, and financial trends over the past four years show that progressive leadership development organizations are actually, on average, experiencing a decline in revenue.

Lara Peng/Wiretap/September 2006

Building Red America

[Thomas Edsall] says that progressives tend to make project-specific grants instead of building party infrastructure and that "the mainstay organizations of the left," which were created when liberals were in power, aim to influence "sympathetic decision makers," not "to wrest power from adversaries," as many of their counterparts on the right so aggressively do.

Michiko Kakutani/New York Times/September 2006

How Strategic Funding of Conservative Ideas Changed the American Landscape

A conversation between Gara LaMarche of the Open Society Institute and former Olin Foundation head James Piereson, on how the Olin Foundation carried out its work, including its successes, failures, and impact, and what those on the progressive end of the political spectrum can learn from Olin's experience.

Open Society Institute/September 2006

Strange Alliances

In the strange-bedfellows world of Washington, few couplings are odder than the Clinton-Brock alliance. For her part, Clinton's extended family of contributors, consultants and friends has played a pivotal role in helping Media Matters grow from a $3.5 million start-up in 2004 to its current $8.5 million budget.

Glenn Thrush/Newsday/September 2006

Battle Cry For Billionaires, Broadcasters, and Bloggers

The Republican and Conservative media, message and information power structure is decades ahead of ours ... The superwealthy of the Republican Right fight harder and invest with far more aggression and vision than anything from their Democratic and progressive counterparts.

Brent Budowsky/BuzzFlash/September 2006

Catching up with Blair Hull

In the run-up to his 2004 Senate bid, Hull was a major benefactor to Illinois candidates, political committees and causes.... What I was most interested in is a fairly new and innovative group Hull is a part of called the Democracy Alliance. It is an association of about 100 affluent contributors ... and it may emerge as a new model for political giving.

Lynn Sweet/Chicago Sun-Times/September 2006

Hey, Funders. Opportunity's Knocking

Look around. It's a new world since 1992, and Bill Clinton can't save you Centrist Democrats who've capitulated over and over and moved so far to the right that you're where conservative Republicans used to be. See also, We the Blogs.

Jennifer Nix/Firedoglake/September 2006

Building the movement with small dollars

What I'd like to see is a website which makes it possible to parcel small-dollar donations and send them to organizations which are dedicated to building infrastructure for the liberal movement, similar in many ways to ActBlue. This effort would have three parts, as I see it.

Planting Liberally/September 2006

Catching Up with the Republicans

There is nothing shady about this VRWC, there is nothing illegal about the network of conservative organisations promoting and co-ordinating their efforts. In fact, what conservatives have built over the past 30 years is nothing short of brilliant. We can admire it the way we would admire the precision engineering, and craftsmanship of a stealth fighter.

Jerome Armstrong & Markos Moulitsas Z˙niga/New Matilda/August 2006

The Progressive Path to November 7, 2006

"Training the Left to Win" in the July/August issue of Utne magazine, is an overview on teaching progressives the basics of grassroots organization for advocacy groups, media attention, congressional staff work and eventually elected office. The benchmark is the GOP history of these training programs going back to 1979 when Morton Blackwell started the Leadership Institute in Arlington, Virginia.

Virginia Cotts/The Democratic Daily/August 2006

Ann Coulter Conquers, Air America Sleeps

The triumph of Ann Coulter speaks volumes about why Washington is today the functional equivalent of a one party state, and why the right perpetually dominates the media message machinery... The hard truth is: their money people give generously and brilliantly measured in billions of dollars to a massive machinery of ideas and communication and message. Ours do not.

Brent Budowsky/Huffington Post/August 2006

Funding the Left

The July 2006 issue of In These Times magazine carries an enlightening and overdue article about how the Left is funded, or not... I was both gratified to see some fundamental and important truths raised ... and disappointed that they are still considered "heresies."

Judith Siers-Poisson/Center for Media and Democracy/July 2006

The New Funding Heresies

If the progressive movement is going to build an infrastructure to rival the right, it has to examine and undo the numerous dysfunctions that stem from the way it is currently funded. In order to do that, it must initiate a public debate, no matter how awkward such a discussion might be.

Christopher Hayes/In These Times/July 2006

A New Alliance Of Democrats Spreads Funding

Democracy Alliance organizers say they are trying to bring principles of accountability and capital investment that are common in business to the world of political advocacy, where they believe such principles have often been missing.

Jim VandeHei & Chris Cillizza/Washington Post/July 2006

Articles & blog posts based on the above article:

More On Vast Left Wing Conspiracy Process Stories


Rounding up the usual suspicions


Democracy Alliance and a long overdue infusion of cash

The Carpetbagger Report

Crashing the Gate: Building a Revolution

Daily Kos

When Satire Becomes Irrelevant


O'Reilly smeared Media Matters, Democracy Alliance...

Media Matters

Saving Air America, and Building Other Media Megaphones...

Why not do what conservatives do, treat their media and megaphone as both a cause worthy of support, and as entrepreneurial ventures that yield high returns if properly supported.

Brent Budowsky/Huffington Post /July 2006

One Party Country

The fortress that has put Republicans within reach of long-term dominance is not made of smoke and mirrors. It is real, built with shrewd design, mountains of money, and decades of hard work and self-discipline.

Tom Hamburger & Peter Wallsten/One Party Country/July 2006

Five Days Left

People with money have continued to sit on the sidelines, either because they feel they can't accomplish much or because they hope that the U.S. mainstream news media will magically start doing its job again. Ironically, many of the people who could make the biggest difference in solving the media crisis have amassed their fortunes in the media.

Robert Parry/Consortium News/June 2006

Why Democrats Lose

Liberals and progressives simply cannot count on the mainstream news media to act as a counterweight to conservative news outlets. That is not in the job description of mainstream journalists, who understand that their careers will be better served if they tilt Right and avoid getting stuck with the "liberal" label.

Robert Parry/Consortium News/June 2006

Building Progressive Infrastructure

A video of a YearlyKos panel featuring Markos Moulitsas, Jerome Armstrong, David Sirota and Dave Johnson, that addresses the question: "How can we build an infrastructure that doesn't just rival the right, but uses progressives' innate advantages to beat the right?"

YearlyKos/LinkTV/June 2006


The YearlyKos convention was all about Vision and Big Pictures. Throughout the Take Back America conference, however, I heard copious chirping about talking points and framing but little about effecting real change in America's political culture to make it more habitable for progressivism. The "pros" seem resigned to life within the toxic political culture grown by the Right.

Barbara O'Brien/Unclaimed Territory/June 2006

The Policy Revolutionaries

Liberals will find it a challenge to respond effectively to the conservative think tank juggernaut, which benefits from decades of momentum and experience and remains exceptionally well-funded... What lies ahead is a battle of not only ideas, but of wealth.

Elizabeth Harris/Worth/ May 2006

Clinton Crashes Democracy Alliance

During a riff on how Democrats could move forward when it came to the war in Iraq, [Bill] Clinton was interrupted by one of the attendees who asked why more potential 2008 candidates had not followed former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards's lead on the issue.

Chris Cillizza/Washington Post/May 2006

New Progress for Progressive Media

[A] serious investment of capital and chutzpah is necessary if progressive media is going to provide the counter balance to the right-wing media machine that will be revved up for fall elections in 2008 and beyond... Will the major progressive funders step up and support a media and ideas infrastructure, beyond backing a few established beltway groups?

Don Hazen/AlterNet/April 2006

The Hope of the Web

When we consider Kos's own Web site and its numerous links to other blogs, we see something like an expanding hive of communication, a collective intelligence. And the results can be impressive... a kind of proto-journalism is emerging, and becoming steadily more sophisticated.

Bill McKibben/The New York Review of Books/April 2006

Being Right Is Not Enough

Progressives in 2006 are in much better shape than conservatives were in 1964. Unlike conservatives, they actually have public opinion on their side. They have numerous wealthy donors looking for ways to advance their cause. They have millions of potential activists with a desire to get involved. And they have the lesson of the last forty years of history.

Paul Waldman/Being Right Is Not Enough/April 2006

Funding A Counter-Attack Against The Right

If every single blog reader gave at least $100 to progressive organizations (and blogs) - a whopping $8 per month - that would completely fund all of the new "Progressive Infrastructure" organizations AND would begin to build an alternative media capable of getting OUR word out.

Dave Johnson/Seeing the Forest/January 2006

Wrong About the Right

Our current infatuation with the strategies and structures of the right has led some progressives to call for a more streamlined, hierarchical movement, but this is not how we've won in the past. Progressive movements have been successful when they have not had a top-down organizational structure.

Jean Hardisty & Deepak Bhargava/The Nation/November 2005

Ego, Power, Money and Progressive Elites

As I wrote in my book, "Road to Air America," Anita and I were initially encouraged about raising the necessary funds for the network. Bill Clinton and Al Gore gave us amazing contacts in Hollywood, Washington, and New York and we visited with almost all of the important rich liberals either directly or through their "gate keepers." To our surprise, we did not get a single dollar from any of these people.

Sheldon Drobny/Huffington Post/November 2005

Social Movements Need An Infrastructure To Succeed

Most liberal and left foundations will tell you up front that they don't fund research, conferences, or media. That's exactly what the political Right funded to help build the infrastructure of their successful social movement.... A few funders have shifted more support to alternative media and conferences, but the most underfunded area on the Left is progressive research and policy think tanks and groups monitoring the political Right.

Chip Berlet/Z Magazine/September 2005

The Resurgence of Movement Politics

There are many who are understandably nervous about emulating anything that comes from the right. But progressives must get over our disgust at how the right has applied its odious ideology to these tactics, and use some of these tactics ourselves.

David Sirota/The Nation/August 2005

The Emergence of the Progressive Blogosphere

Progressive online communities are increasing their audience share at a much faster rate than the conservative blogosphere. It should be noted, though, that conservative blogs are neither stagnating nor declining in size, and it will require continued improvements of the progressive blogosphere to maintain the current advantage in size and growth rate.

Chris Bowers & Matt Stoller/New Politics Institute/August 2005

Rich Liberals Vow to Fund Think Tanks

Liberal groups have been disproportionately dependent on one-year foundation grants for specific projects, [Rob] Stein said, while the money flowing to conservative groups has often involved donors' long-term commitments with no strings attached. Stein noted that of 200 major conservative donors, about half sit on the boards of the think tanks they give to, increasing the strength of their commitment.

Thomas B. Edsall/Washington Post/August 2005

Can Democrats get smart?

"Devastated" does not do it justice. The day after the last presidential election, the millionaires and billionaires who fund progressive politics awoke to find their historic efforts had fallen flat... Liberal money was down for the count, but only temporarily. Now, nearly a year after their defeat at the polls, wealthy liberals are again pulling out their checkbooks.

Michael Scherer/Salon/August 2005

The Death and Life of American Liberalism

Why are we losing to these guys? ... Let's cut to the chase. The big reason is that the right is a movement, 30 years in the making. And a movement culture is a habitat that allows grass-roots activists, party professionals, and conviction politicians to function strategically as a smooth machine joined by a common ideology.

Robert Kuttner/American Prospect/July 2005

Follow the Money

''Frankly, if Kerry had won, there might not even have been a Democracy Alliance," says San Francisco philanthropist Anne Bartley, a Democracy Alliance board member. ''There is this deepening principle that we can't do it individually anymore. We have to be more organized."

Chris Suellentrop/Boston Globe/June 2005

The Crisis of Democracy in America

Progressives badly need better message development and communications training and dissemination. But a message is the way of delivering an idea, not the idea itself. We certainly need stronger institutions on our side, all the things that comprise what we call the "progressive infrastructure". But no one marches into battle under the flag of "infrastructure."

Gara LaMarche/openDemocracy/June 2005

Solving the Media Puzzle

American progressives finally are taking seriously the threat posed by the U.S. news media's swing to the right, which - perhaps more than any other factor - has transformed the U.S. democratic process into a mess of disinformation, fear and irrationality.... Still, there remains widespread confusion on the Left about what can be done and how to get the most value from investments of money and talent.

Robert Parry/Consortium News/May 2005

Making Connections

For decades, liberal foundations and individual donors have failed to recognize the need for building long-term capacity in progressive media and affiliated organizations, and thereby create a progressive "echo chamber" that can begin to counter the right's media machine.

Jessica Clark & Tracy Van Slyke/In These Times/April 2005

Neoconning the Media

Once business began to pony up the kind of cash necessary to fight a media class war, the terms of Washington's insider debate began to change. With tens of millions of dollars ... the new Conservative Counter-Establishment did a masterly job at aping the institutions of the Establishment's Washington and replacing them with its own.

Eric Alterman/Media Transparency/April 2005

Progressive Media Strategy

This country needs an organization dedicated to establishing, developing, and supporting talented researchers, linguists, writers, investigative reporters, social psychologists, speakers, filmmakers, and cartoonists who believe in truthful reporting and commentary, and making sure their work receives wide exposure.

Carolyn Kay/ 2005

A Party Inverted

If Democrats are serious about preparing for the next election or the next election after that, some influential Democrats will have to resist entrusting their dreams to individual candidates and instead make a commitment to build a stable pyramid from the base up. It will take at least a decade's commitment, and it won't come cheap. But there really is no other choice.

Bill Bradley/New York Times/March 2005

War of Ideas

My research suggests that while it is true that conservatives have been more effective than progressive funders, this is not because they spend more money.... They are succeeding by aggressively promoting their ideas. By contrast, liberal and mainstream foundations back policy research that is of interest to liberals. But these funders remain reluctant to make explicit financial commitment to the war of ideas, and they do relatively little to support the marketing of liberal ideas.

Andrew Rich/Stanford Social Innovation Review/Spring 2005

The Right-Wing Express

[Rob] Stein says he woke up the day after Election Day in 2002 and realized "we have a one-party state in this country." He decided to figure out how it all happened - how conservatives, despite a healthy majority of Americans opposed to their platform and positions, managed to build an infrastructure and a message machine that is so effective and pervasive.

Don Hazen/AlterNet/February 2005

Creating Progressive Infrastructure Now

The Right's successful dissemination of their values and ideas is why conservative perspectives now dominate the public discourse. It is why so many candidates who, 30 years ago, would have been considered too extreme to be given serious consideration are now being elected. It is why this country now urgently needs a progressive infrastructure .

Leonard Salle & Katherine Forrest/Commonweal Institute/January 2005

What's On the Media Agenda?

Many progressives have realized over the last few years that the right enjoys a tremendous advantage in the long-term fight to define the playing field on which short-term electoral battles are fought... media criticism on the right isn't confined to a few organizations, but is instead fully integrated into all levels of the conservative message machine, from President Bush down to local activists.

David Brock/In These Times/November 2004

Learning from the Winners

Unhappy with what they regard as the "liberal bias" of the news media, they have attacked from both the outside and the inside, building their own, unabashedly conservative media such as Fox News and talk radio at the same time that they have systematically set about promoting the careers of conservatives within the mainstream media.

John Stauber & Sheldon Rampton/AlterNet/November 2004

Top Priority: Media Infrastructure

[A] crucial challenge facing "blue" America now is to get back in this media game, to challenge the current dynamic of an aggressive conservative media forcing the mainstream press to scuttle ever rightward. Given the conservatives' quarter-century head-start, the liberals have their work cut out for them.

Robert Parry/Consortium News/November 2004

Too Little, Too Late

George W. Bush's electoral victory is chilling proof that the conservatives have achieved dominance over the flow of information to the American people and that even a well-run Democratic campaign stands virtually no chance for national success without major changes in how the news media operates.

Robert Parry/Consortium News/November 2004

Parry discusses the above articles on Democracy Now!.

Tentacles of Rage

I knew enough to know that the numbing of America's political senses didn't happen by mistake, but it wasn't until I met Rob Stein ... that I came to fully appreciate the nature and the extent of the re-education program undertaken in the early 1970s by a cadre of ultraconservative and self-mythologizing millionaires bent on rescuing the country from the hideous grasp of Satanic liberalism.

Lewis Lapham/Harper's/September 2004

Wiring the Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy

Rob Stein was convinced that the left needed to focus on the long term, on building its own network of well-financed nonprofit groups, rather than simply strategizing for the next election. But he was not an especially powerful man in Washington, and all he had to work with was a slide show.

Matt Bai/New York Times Magazine/July 2004

The Marketplace of Ideas

What makes conservative foundations different is that they ... focus in a disciplined way on achieving their direct political goals. Whereas other foundations mostly try to change the world by offering services, the conservative foundations have prioritized influencing ideas and policies.

Sheldon Rampton & John Stauber/Center for Media & Democracy/April 2004

The Apparat

It has taken 30 years for the progressive left to pay serious heed to the apparat. In the run-up to 2004, progressives have belatedly begun weaving an advocacy web of their own to join in a vigorous battle of ideas for voter allegiance.

Jerry Landay/Media Transparency/March 2004

Cracking the Media Walls

Many left-leaning foundations remain hesitant or unwilling to fund media work, and the ones that do often are leery of backing media endeavors that seem overly combative or ideological. Not so the right-wing foundations and corporations that sink millions of dollars a week into aggressive media-savvy propaganda outfits...

Norman Solomon/In These Times/October 2003

Progressives Need Communication Infrastructure

America's political elite live in an information bubble. It's like the Right has set up a "conventional wisdom machine" that is targeted at opinion leaders, legislators, their staffs and the circles they associate with. Heavily-funded right-wing organizations work to infiltrate their message into the information that these "leadership elite" receive.

Dave Johnson/Uncommon Denominator/June 2003

Philanthropy and Movements

Recently I was invited to be the token liberal at a major national conference of conservative foundations. The invitation was to debate Bill Kristol... The debate itself was good fun, but the real treat was the before-dinner event: a panel discussion of four presidents of major right-wing research factories, titled, "Philanthropy, Think Tanks, and the Importance of Ideas."

Robert Kuttner/American Prospect/July 2002

The Mighty Wurlitzer

With all that ideological money, institutional heft, coordination, and credentialing, the right has perfected what the CIA used to call a "mighty Wurlitzer" -- a propaganda machine that can hone a fact or a lie, broadcast it, and have it echoed and recycled in Fox News commentary, in Washington Times news stories, in Wall Street Journal editorials, by myriad right-wing pundits, by Heritage seminars and briefing papers, and in congressional hearings and speeches.

Robert Borosage/American Prospect/May 2002

Why Fund Media

The goal of this report is to dispel myths, examine obstacles, offer a few solutions, and share some successes. Our hope is that foundations that routinely declare in their guidelines "we don't fund media" might reconsider their position after reading this report.

Karen M. Hirsch/Grantmakers in Film and Electronic Media/2002

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