There is a bit more bedwetting going on than usual at the moment. Julia Baird, of Fairfax and ABC fame, had an op-ed in the SMH last week:
Yet there is a concerted campaign on Twitter to ensure the IPA should never be given a voice on a show like The Drum.
One genuine concern is about disclosure of funding, which is a significant one – it would be far better if think tanks were legally required to reveal all funding, so we can best assess contributions to public debate. This includes the likes of the Australia Institute, the McKell Institute, the Centre for Independent Studies and the Sydney Institute, as well as the IPA.
That op-ed earned her a whole torrent of abuse on Twitter. Mind you, some of the criticism was just rubbish. This intellectual giant was having a go at me for being an IPA mole yet I have never once appeared on The Drum.
But moving along.
Simon Cowan of the CIS responded today on the donor identity issue.
Think tanks are values based organisations and people support us because they share our deep commitment to classical liberal values. No doubt Baird, Fanning and others do not intend to impugn our motives but any implication that we take our positions to appease our funders is unfair and untrue.
That argument is correct – but I suspect not decisive. In any event Baird, Fanning and others do intend to impugn motives.
The better counter-argument, however, is just simple hypocrisy.
The ABC is funded by taxpayers via the government. Are we to believe that the ABC only produces government propaganda? (Yes, I know; only when Labor is in power). Are we to believe that Fairfax only produces content that benefits its advertisers and subscribers. In fact – where is the list of the Fairfax subscribers? Ditto the Guardian. We read this week that a shadowy cabal of some 65,000 readers are now financing the Guardian – leading to its first ever profit (wonder how much tax they paid?). Who are these people? What is their agenda? What is the size of their donations? Are they all Australian citizens? Names please.