Ben Freeman, Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft
June 5, 2023
Executive Summary (excerpts)
“Think tanks in the United States are a go–to resource for media outlets seeking expert opinions on pressing public policy issues. But think tanks often have entrenched stances; a growing body of research has shown that their funders can influence their analysis and commentary. This influence can include censorship — both self-censorship and more direct censoring of work unfavorable to a funder — and outright pay–for–research agreements with funders. The result is an environment where the interests of the most generous funders can dominate think tank policy debates.
One such debate concerns the appropriate level of U.S. military involvement in the Russian invasion of Ukraine…
The analysis offers a number of key findings.
First, of the 27 think tanks whose donors could be identified, 21 received funding from the defense sector (77 percent). Unfortunately, because donor disclosure is voluntary, we cannot determine the percentage of think tank funding that is derived from defense contractors.
Second, in articles related to U.S. military involvement in Ukraine media outlets have cited think tanks with financial backing from the defense industry 85 percent of the time, or seven times as often as think tanks that do not accept funding from Pentagon contractors.
Third, despite a general trend towards greater donor transparency at think tanks, nearly a third of the top U.S. foreign policy think tanks still do not provide the public with information about their funders.
Fourth, media outlets rarely identify conflicts of interest posed by experts they cite from defense industry funded think tanks in cases where they offer their opinions on policies that would benefit the defense industry.”
Now read this extremely important analysis here from the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft: