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All the News That’s Fit to DeMint

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Move over,, the Daily Caller, The Blaze, the Washington Times, Breitbart, and Drudge; move over, everybody. Make some room, because the Heritage Foundation launched its very own news site on Tuesday, which the Washington Post reports will keep twelve journalists on staff and a budget of $1 million a year. Not too shabby!

In a release last month describing the upcoming launch, the Heritage Foundation described the new site’s mission:

We are committed to news coverage that is accurate, fair and trustworthy. As we surveyed the media landscape, it became clear to us that the need for honest, thorough, responsible reporting has never been more critical. That’s a challenge in today’s fast-moving world. And it’s a challenge we’re willing to accept.

We are dedicated to developing a news outlet that cuts straight to the heart of key political and policy arguments—not spin reported as news.

No spin, eh? Here’s a sampling of headlines from the Daily Signal’s debut: “Ethics Complaint Targets Harry Reid for Abuse of Power,” “Sam Brownback Explains How Obamacare’s Medicaid Expansion Hurts States,” and a personal favorite, “Medical Study: Don’t Trust all the Health Articles on Wikipedia.”

There’s also a video from the Daily Signal’s “senior independent contributor” Sheryl Attkisson, in which she describes the “very dangerous trend in journalism” of editors and managers censoring stories that don’t follow their “agenda.” Atkisson resigned from CBS in March, citing liberal bias as the reason she left. (Paul Farhi wrote in the Washington Post this week that “Attkisson’s work on medical topics has been controversial; medical experts criticized her reporting in 2012 about a purported link between vaccines and autism.”)

We think now would be a great time to return to Jim Newell’s salvo from our previous issue of The Baffler, “Good Enough for Government Work: Conservatism in the tank,” which is all about the mission of the Heritage Foundation under the leadership of its (then-new) president, Sen. Jim DeMint. An excerpt:

Heritage’s new advocacy shop, Heritage Action, brings the organization the sort of power that Washington’s predominant think tanks never previously considered theirs to wield: that of enforcing conservative ideological orthodoxy among lawmakers. Instead of handing them conservative policy research to inform decision-making, it’s issuing scorecards that gauge lawmakers’ ideological fealty to pet conservative causes—and ensuring that these scores get circulated far and wide among the powerful donors behind the conservative movement. While technically separated from its ideological parents at the Heritage Foundation by its 501(c)(4) status, Heritage Action “seeks to convert the think tank’s more than 700,000 members into a potent political force,” according to an admiring notice in the National Review. As outgoing Heritage Foundation president Ed Feulner described Heritage’s two wings upon Heritage Action’s conception—riffing on a Ronald Reagan quotation—“The Heritage Foundation makes [politicians] see the light, Heritage Action makes them feel the heat.”

Welcome to the new incarnation of the “think tank” world, over which Jim DeMint—its ideal-type avatar—now presides. Instead of letting scholars of various shades of true believership study what interests them without predetermined conclusions, think tanks are now expected to formulate new ways to echo one or another approved ideological dogma—and then marshal lawmakers, none too subtly, to march in lockstep behind it.

And now they’ve got their own news site, a must-have for any ideologically-driven empire. Read the rest of Jim Newell’s piece here.