Corporations and rich people own the media and fund all the think tanks. Why is it cynical and reductionist of me to think that this means media and think tanks will generally produce things that corporations and rich people like? Yes, corporations want to make money so if a media employee genuinely brings in ad money, he may be allowed to say things that criticize corporations and rich people, but other than that, what’s the incentive for corporate media to criticize corporations? Think tanks have no possibility at all of making money so the only incentive there is to produce the kind of propaganda the donors like. Example: Steve Clemons reported a few months ago about how Brookings hired Robert Kagan to try go get more money from the neocon donor, Haim Saban. And Brookings is viewed as one of the more respectable think tanks.
Cato and Reason are partly funded by the Koch brothers. That is why they will generally produce pro-corporate stuff, regardless of what the real definition of libertarianism is. Now, there are a lot of good, smart writers at Cato, and they may occasionally go off the reservation and attack corporate excess. But when the chips are down, you know which way they’re going to go. And, no, I don’t expect MoveOn to launch a campaign against currency traders anytime soon either.
You always hear this stuff from media/think tank types where they say “hey, the Koch brothers never pressured me personally” or “I’ve never ever met the CEO of Time-Warner/GE, how could he be bullying me?” etc. I would suggest the reason that they have the job in the first place is that they’ve either always said the kind of stuff the CEO/donor likes anyway or that they, like the famous horse who knew arithmetic, have an innate sense of what kinds of answers please their masters.
I don’t see how things could possibly be otherwise.
Update. I didn’t mean this to target libertarianism specifically (you’ll note I brought up one liberal organization and one centrist organization as well). But, on further reflection libertarianism does in fact rely more on think tanks and vanity project media, because it doesn’t have much in the way of party infrastructure.