Why Support Progressive Media?

Membership Rounded SquareAt the end of 2012, Raging Chicken Press launched a new membership campaign to help support and expand our work. We’ve grown rapidly since we launched in July 2011 and we continue to look for ways to expand our reach and help stitch together a progressive media infrastructure in Pennsylvania and beyond. We take the work of building a progressive media infrastructure very seriously because we know that the attacks against working families, unions, the commons, and the poor we have seen escalate over the past few years are not going away. And, we believe that we have to start investing for the long haul. It’s not enough to move from campaign to campaign, from issue to issue. We need to invest in a progressive media infrastructure that will be there consistently.

I’ve written before about the way the right-wing has invested for decades in building such an infrastructure. And, just a couple of weeks ago, Glenn Richardson posted an excellent piece in Raging Chicken Press outlining the history of the Powell Memo and the role it had in fomenting right-wing efforts to systematically drive progressive ideas out of U.S. higher education institutions and to break organized labor. We are seeing the fruits of their investments today.

That right-wing agenda has not subsided. On February 14, 2013, the Center for Public Integrity published a report on new right-wing efforts to invest in on-line media at the state and local level. The report, “Donors Use Charity to Push Free-Market Policies in States,” begins:

In 2009, a network of online media outlets began popping up in state capitals across the nation, each covering the news from a clearly conservative point of view. What wasn’t so clear was how they were funded.

“The source is 100 percent anonymous,” said Michael Moroney, a spokesman for the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, the think tank that created the outlets.

In fact, 95 percent of Franklin’s revenue in 2011 came from a charity called Donors Trust, according to Internal Revenue Service records.

Conservative foundations and individuals use Donors Trust to pass money to a vast network of think tanks and media outlets that push free-market ideology in the states — $86 million in 2011 alone. The arrangement obscures the identity of the donors wishing to keep their charitable giving private, especially “gifts funding sensitive or controversial issues,” according to the group’s website.

The $6.3 million donation to the Franklin Center was the second-largest gift made in 2011 by the group, a tax-exempt “public charity” that takes tax-deductible donations from donors “dedicated to the ideals of limited government, personal responsibility, and free enterprise,” according to its website.

Donors Trust includes 193 contributors, the majority of whom are individuals. “A lot of donors are flying totally under the radar,” says president and CEO Whitney Ball.

Here’s a report on Donor’s Trust from Democracy Now:



In many ways, what we see here with Donor’s Trust should not be surprising. It keeps the long tradition of significant right-wing investments in the infrastructure that gives their ideas staying power. They know that money invested in their media and think-tank infrastructure pays off significantly in the long run. And they’ve got a significant amount of money to enact their will.

What we lack in individual financial resources we make up for in numbers. While it is unlikely anyone reading this can afford to send Raging Chicken Press a $10,000 check, many of you could swing $5/month for a membership or a smaller one-time donation. We are a volunteer run organization and we get a lot of bang for our buck. The question is whether you think the work we do is worth $5/month and if you are willing to help build our progressive media infrastructure. We hope you think what we do is worth it.

Help Raging Chicken Press expand our progressive media infrastructure to begin to push back against the tide of “dark money” funding right-wing media efforts. It will just take a couple of minutes, but your investment will help build a more progressive future. Thank you!



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About Editor, Raging Chicken Press 483 Articles
Kevin Mahoney is the Founder and Editor Zero of Raging Chicken Press. When he's not rabble-rousing on Raging Chicken, he's teaching rhetoric and writing at Kutztown University.

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