Washington, D.C., woke up to a humdinger of a story today, a flash portrait that shows the relationship between money, power, and ideas—and highlights the potential for intellectual corruption that has accompanied the flood of Big Tech money into the capital.
The New York Times reported that the New America Foundation, the digital-savvy center-left think tank, might have pushed out Barry Lynn, a ferocious and influential critic of “platform monopolies” like, for example, Alphabet (née Google). After Google was hit with a 2.42 billion–euro fine by the European Commission in June, Lynn posted a congratulatory note to the regulators and a call for action by American anti-trust officials.
New America, meanwhile, has received more than $20 million since its founding in 1999 from Alphabet companies and the foundation established by Eric Schmidt. Schmidt, currently executive chairman of Alphabet, also previously served as chairman of New America’s board.
Before Lynn began his Open Markets program, New America had been closely, deeply associated with technology- and market-friendly Silicon Valley progressivism.
Open Markets took a completely different tack, “researching and reporting on the political and economic dangers posed by monopolization,” largely by technology companies. And they were good at it. They were gaining adherents with influential essays by Lynn, Lina Khan, and Matt Stoller. They’d gotten the ears of Senators like Elizabeth Warren and even one of Silicon Valley’s own representatives, Ro Khanna. Some have given them credit for the anti-monopoly plank in the Democrats’ platform. (New America also has two Atlantic people on its board: the Atlantic Media chairman David Bradley and The Atlantic national correspondent Jim Fallows, neither of whom contributed to this story. Fallows was the chairman of the New America board from its founding until 2008, when Schmidt took over. New America’s CEO, Anne-Marie Slaughter, has written for this magazine. As have Lynn, Matt Stoller, and Phillip Longman of the Open Markets team. And we’ve cited Open Markets work repeatedly in our coverage.)