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Monday, January 5, 2004

I'll Be Doggone--It's A Watchdog!
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If you have some extra time on your hands in 2004, you might want to set aside a few minutes each day to watch how the big-time press labels non-profit research organizations of PFF's genre, that is, non-partisan, non-profit research organizations. For example, we're most often labeled "conservative", sometimes even "right wing". And that's fine, although organizations on the other side of the philosophical spectrum are much less frequently labeled "liberal" or "left wing." (You can do your own study, but make sure you exclude from your computer search hockey players on both wings.)

But what caught my eye this morning was the labeling of the (left-leaning) Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in the New York Times just in the past week. In a NYT editorial on December 31, the CBPP was called a "government watchdog group." In a January 4 news piece, it was labeled "a liberal-leaning research and advocacy group" in a story that paired it with the "conservative Heritage Foundation." Then, in a news article in this morning's NYT the Center was referred to simply as a "nonprofit research group in Washington."

You can read the editorials and news articles yourself, and try to figure out what's behind the different labels. Hint: If the group's work alone is cited, as in the NYT editorial "The Budget Politics of Being Poor," so there is no worry about the parallel treatment of other groups, and if it's used to support the writer's point, the group might earn the "watchdog" sobriquet.

Well, you can call me...and you can call me...anyway, regardless what you call me, I think of myself mostly as a classical liberal in the Enlightenment sense of the term--before "liberalism" got hijacked. In any event, I'll be doggedly watchful this year trying my best to keep my philosophical principles on the straight and narrow, whether you call me a conservative, liberal, member of a non-profit research organization, or just an ol' watchdog.

posted by Randolph May @ 11:28 AM | General

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