The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.
ProPublica is a left wing investigative news organization. ProPublica is funded by, and has ties to, some of America’s most extreme liberal ideologues. Newspapers and other media outlets regularly print ProPublica work.
History and Mission
ProPublica claims to be “an independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest.” ProPublica was established in 2007 and it began publishing in 2008. Liberal billionaires Herbert and Marion Sandler founded ProPublica and as of September 2011 continued to be its main source of funding (Marion Sandler passed away in June 2012 at the age of 81). ProPublica work tends to slant left and so do its readers. ProPublica offers its “investigative” stories for free to the media. Among others, ProPublica columns regularly appear in the New York Times, The Washington Post, The Oregonian, and on National Public Radio (NPR).
ProPublica’s stated mission is “[t]o expose abuses of power and betrayals of the public trust by government, business, and other institutions, using the moral force of investigative journalism to spur reform through the sustained spotlighting of wrongdoing.”
ProPublica’s work primarily “exposes” big business, the military, and conservatives. ProPublica writers have produced hit pieces on former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, the oil and natural gas industry, the American military, and conservatives. Ron Arnold of Undue Influenceexplains that ProPublica is “[u]nder control of billionaire mortgage lender and founding donor Herbert Sandler, a board of directors including the Pew Charitable Trusts, and a manager from the Rockefeller Foundation – as independent as a lapdog on a leash with allegiances sworn in advance to left-wing causes.”
Founders / Leadership
Herbert M. Sandler and Marion O. Sandler established ProPublica in 2007 with an initial infusion of $10 million, which they promised to replenish annually. The Sandlers are billionaires who support Democratic candidates at all levels of government and donate generously to liberal organizations. The Sandlers amassed their wealth as owners of Golden West Financial Corporation, one of the largest home mortgage lenders in the country. The Sandlers played a large role in the home mortgage crisis that led to the great recession of the late 2000s. They, however, sold their bank to Wachovia for $24 billion just prior to the collapse. Timemagazine listed the Sandlers in its column, “25 People to Blame for the Financial Crisis.”
As writer Cheryl K. Chumley explained in a 2009 Capital Research Center article, “[h]aving gotten out of the market at precisely the right time, the Sandlers are flush with cash, and they are throwing mountains of money around in an effort to make America more liberal.” According to Chumley, in 2004, the Sandlers donated “$13 million dollars to pro-John Kerry 527 organizations– including $2.5 million to the MoveOn.org Voter Fund.”
After Senator Kerry lost the 2004 Presidential election, the Sandlers increased their efforts to spread liberalism. They started by joining George Soros’ far-left Democracy Alliance. The Democracy Alliance is a collection of billionaires “whose mission [is] to avoid future political defeats by building an organizational infrastructure of liberal think-tanks, leadership schools and media outlets to rival the imagined ‘vast right wing conspiracy.’”
From 2003-2009, the Sandlers donated approximately $250 million to liberal non-profits and advocacy groups. According to Cheryl K. Chumley in a Capital Research Center article:
In addition to financially backing ProPublica, Herbert Sandler oversees its operations as Chairman of the Board.
Henry Louis Gates, Jr. also serves on ProPublica’s Board of Directors. Gates is a Harvard professor and friend of President Barack Obama. In July 2009, Gates, a black man, was arrested for disorderly conduct when the police were called to his house. Gates falsely accused the white police officer of racial profiling.
ProPublica’s influence is the result of fortunate timing. In the late 2000s, newspaper readership and revenue declined. As a result, many newspapers reduced costs and staffing. By providing its content for free to the media, ProPublica can fill a void and reduce costs for much of the print media. Blogger Anita Moncrief of HotAir.com has explained the relationship this way:
In addition to the New York Times, The Washington Post, National Public Radio, The Time Union, The Guardian, The Oregonian, The Orlando Sentinel, The Boston Globe, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Chicago Tribune, The Huffington Post, and The Seattle Timesall publish ProPublica work. Also, in June 2009, the Associated Press (the “AP”) announced that it would distribute ProPublica content. Many Americans have long complained that AP articles tend liberal. The AP distributes articles to approximately 1,500 sources.
ProPublica’s place in the modern news cycle is unique – investigative journalism given away for free with a partisan flare. When ProPublica was formed in 2007, Jack Shafer, then of Slate,commented, “nothing on this scale and with this investigative focus has been attempted before in journalism.”
Major ProPublica investigative news stories include:
In January 2011, ProPublica announced it would begin publishing advertising on its website. Many readers commented on the ProPublica announcement, expressing dismay that its decision would delegitimize ProPublica’s supposed objectivity.
In 2010, ProPublica journalist Sheri Fink won a Pulitzer Prize for her work in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina at New Orleans’ Memorial Medical Center.
Besides its liberal leadership, there is an array of evidence, both empirical and anecdotal, that shows ProPublica’s liberal slant.
In 2008 and again in 2010, ProPublica issued reader surveys that showed it is not in line with, nor does it cater to, average Americans. The 2008 survey was emailed and available on the ProPublica website. ProPublica displayed the results separately. In the 2008 survey, only five percent of web respondents and six percent of email respondents identified as conservatives. The remaining 95 and 96 percent respectively identify as liberal, moderate, or non-ideological, with over half of the respondents identifying as liberals. Even ProPublica admits that these numbers are far from the American demographic, noting, “the  presidential election exit polls found voters self-identified as follows: 44% moderate, 34% conservative, 22% liberal.”Additionally, in the 2008 survey 100 percent of respondents said that ProPublica’s reporting was liberal, moderate, or non-ideological – zero percent thought ProPublica’s reporting was conservative.
ProPublica’s 2010 survey yielded similar results. More than half ProPublica’s readers (56 percent) identify as liberals and only eight percent as conservatives. A June 2010 Gallup poll shows that 42 percent of Americans identify as conservative while only 20 percent identify as liberal. And again in 2010, ProPublica reported that no respondents considered its news coverage conservative.
ProPublica’s reporters have frequently attacked former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. ProPublica reporters also seem to ignore negative reports about liberals such as President Barack Obama and the defunct activist group ACORN, according to blogger Anita Moncrief. She explains, “[i]t doesn’t seem that there is much restraint at Sandler’s ProPublica where they have attacked ACORN detractors and refused to investigate any story related to corruption in the Obama administration.”
Many ProPublica articles carry a disclaimer stating the group is non-partisan and non-profit. ProPublica articles appear in the “news” portion of most newspapers and not in the “opinion” section.
ProPublica has been guilty of sloppy reporting.
Writing in Slate, Jack Shafer wrote, “[i]f I were a newspaper editor considering ProPublica copy for a future issue, the first thing I’d want is proof of a firewall preventing the Sandlers or other funders from picking – or nixing – the targets of its probes.” As of 2011, the Sandlers still fund ProPublica and Herbert Sandler is still the Chairman of the board.
Leadership (as of August 2011)
Paul Steiger, Editor-in-Chief (2008 Salary: $571,687)
Stephen Engelberg, Managing Editor (2008 Salary: $343,463)
Richard Tofel, General Manager (2008 Salary: $320,978)
Dafna Linzer, Senior Reporter (2008 Salary: $205,455)
Tracy Weber, Senior Reporter (2008 Salary, $176,309)
Debby Goldberg, Vice President/Development
Herbert Sandler, Chairman of the Board
Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Board Member
Alberto Ibargüen, Board Member
Gara LaMarche, Board member
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