Don't look at the man behind the curtain: Why think-tanks don't want you to think very much...

... and I'm announcing the Centre for Understanding News TechnologieS

The only think-tank I actually like is Mark ne-Francois-pas’ Think, Tank! :

What is a think-tank? The dictionary defines it as…

… but I, a wannabe Dr Johnson, have an alternative definition:

Think-tank (n.)
An organisation designed to be unaccountable, conceal the sources of its funding, and pursue an ideological agenda for fun and profit. These organisations pretend to be ‘independent’ while usually bolstering an established political party and expressing lines that just happen to exactly chime with the interest of those funding them.

Short definition: Mendacious, money-grabbing little shits.

For a long time, I’ve suggested that think-tanks should only be allowed to be represented on television if the chyron — the onscreen description — shows a scrolling list of all the organisations and individuals who sponsor them.

That would never happen though as those people fund think-tanks to push their opinions and needs, without having to be accountable for those demands, and think-tanks who are often in the media such as the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) would rather take a cheesegrater to their collective genitals than discuss who keeps them in cigarettes and cheap shirts.

Time for another definition. What most think-tanks, especially the right-wing ones, live on is ‘dark money’:

UK governments of red, blue and yellowy blue hues have implicitly and explicitly endorsed the use of dark money to fund think-tanks over the years. The two main ways that they have made this permissible are:

a) failing to question think-tanks who claim they are charities despite pursuing partisan interests quite nakedly

b) allowing think-tanks to conceal who funds them, something that UK research institutions in academia generally cannot (and would not) do.

Under current UK law, pretty much anybody can set up a thinktank and pump cash into it to produce ‘studies’ and ‘research’ designed to influence public perception.

That’s why today I am announcing a new think-tank, with the explicit aim of questioning the current laws around media regulation and the previous government’s decision to kick the second part of the Leveson inquiry — which was to have looked into the relationship between the press and the police — into the long grass.

The Centre for Understanding News TechnologieS will be funded by money from this newsletter. It will commission academics to study issues in media ethics, but its conclusions will be entirely at my whim as I push my agenda that UK media barons are the outriders of satan, sent to the earth to destroy all that is good and holy. There will also be nice sandwiches and a good selection of biscuits.

☝️ Me, whenever someone from the IEA turns up on my TV.