ThinkProgress, a once-influential left-wing news site, is reportedly shutting down after nearly 15 years in operation.
The outlet was a “project” of the Center for American Progress Action Fund (CAPAF), a “sister advocacy organization” of the Center for American Progress (CAP).
The Center for American Progress is a 501(c)(3) organization that receives approximately $25 million per year in funding from a variety of sources, including individuals, foundations, and corporations, according to Sourcewatch.
From 2003 to 2007, the center received about $15 million in grants from 58 foundations. Major individual donors include George Soros, Peter Lewis, Steve Bing, and Herbert M. Sandler. The Center receives undisclosed sums from corporate donors.
Wal-Mart is a major funder of the Center for American Progress, having given at least half a million dollars to the organization. Wal-Mart has been a major backer of Pres Obama’s health care legislation, which critics contend would disproportionately drive up costs for Wal-Mart’s smaller competitors.
According to the Daily Beast, ThinkProgress ran on deficits for years and “will stop current operations on Friday and be converted into a site where CAP scholars can post.”
CAP officials had been searching for a buyer to take over the website and there were reportedly some interested parties, but ultimately, the site was unable to secure a patron.
“Given that we could find no new publisher, we have no other real option but to fold the ThinkProgress website back into CAP’s broader online presence with a focus on analysis of policy, politics, and news events through the lens of existing CAP and CAP Action staff experts,” said Navin Nayak, the executive director of CAPAF. “Conversations on how to do so are just beginning, but we will seek to reinvent it as a different platform for progressive change.”
A dozen ThinkProgress employees will be losing their jobs, a CAP aide said, as many who were on staff had already gone to work elsewhere and some were incorporated into the larger CAP infrastructure. Those who are being laid off will be given a severance package that runs through the end of November and health care coverage that lasts through the year, said the CAP aide.
As for the actual website, thinkprogress.org will continue to exist. But it will no longer function as an independent enterprise focused on original reporting. Instead, according to Nayak, it will be folded “back into CAP’s broader online presence” as a sounding board for policy and political analysis by existing CAP and CAP Action staff experts.
ThinkProgress, by its own account, pushed back daily against its conservative targets, supporting the CAPAF agenda to transform “progressive ideas into policy through rapid response communications, legislative action, grassroots organizing and advocacy, and partnerships with other progressive leaders throughout the country and the world.”
In hackish fashion, ThinkProgress transformed itself from being a strident opponent of the war in Afghanistan during the Bush years, to having a neutral opinion on the war during the Obama years.
According to the website’s own bloggers, the Obama White House frequently attempted to censor the blog’s content when it departed from the president’s agenda.
Former ThinkProgress blogger Zaid Jilani said in March 2014: “One of the controversial topics that was very constrained in our writing at ThinkProgress in 2009 was [the war in] Afghanistan,” Jilani wrote. “CAP had decided not to protest Obama’s surge, so most of our writing on the topic was simply neutral — we weren’t supposed to take a strong stand.”
But in one particular post in 2011, Jilani pointed out that by the end of Obama’s Afghan “surge,” U.S. troop levels would actually be higher than at any point in the George W. Bush administration. The Obama administration was incensed. Said Jilani:
Phone calls from the White House started pouring in, berating my bosses for being critical of Obama on this policy…. Soon afterwards all of us ThinkProgress national security bloggers were called into a meeting with CAP senior staff and basically berated for opposing the Afghan war and creating daylight between us and Obama.
Salon writer David Sirota corroborated Jilani’s claims, tweeting: “I can attest that I experienced similar kinds of editorial pressures when I was at CAP.”
Another proud moment for ThinkProgress came on August 14, 2014, while riots were raging in in Ferguson, Missouri in response to the killing of an unarmed 18-year-old black male named Michael Brown by a white police officer. Enraged by Fox News’ coverage of the controversy, ThinkProgress deputy economic policy editor Alan Pyke posted on Twitter that he wanted Fox News president Roger Ailes to die a “slow, painful” death.
“I hope Roger Ailes dies slow, painful, and soon. The evil that man has done to the American tapestry is unprecedented for an individual,” Pyke tweeted.
Not surprisingly, many conservatives were in celebration mode Friday at the news that the left-wing propaganda outfit was shutting down.
Tfw you find out ThinkProgress is dead
— Comfortably Smug (@ComfortablySmug) September 6, 2019
'You don't hate to see it': ThinkProgress is officially shutting down and we seem to have misplaced our tiny violins https://t.co/rYtNxbmqBE
— Twitchy Team (@TwitchyTeam) September 6, 2019