Liberal Site ThinkProgress Shuts Down After Failing to Find Buyer

Center for American Progress project folds

The left-wing news site ThinkProgress is shutting down after it failed to find a buyer to take over its operations.

As an editorially independent project of the liberal think tank Center for American Progress (CAP), ThinkProgress combined attacking Republicans and conservatives with original journalism.

CAP Action Fund Executive Director Navin Nayak told employees that it had no choice after several potential patrons fell through to rescue the financially struggling site, according to the Daily Beast. The news site will cease operations Friday.

"Given that we could find no new publisher, we have no other real option but to fold the ThinkProgress website back into CAP’s broader online presence with a focus on analysis of policy, politics, and news events through the lens of existing CAP and CAP Action staff experts," said Nayak. "Conversations on how to do so are just beginning, but we will seek to reinvent it as a different platform for progressive change."

ThinkProgress.org will be folded "back into CAP’s broader online presence" where CAP scholars and staffers can post on different subjects, according to Nayak.

"Conversations on how to do so are just beginning," said Nayak, "but we will seek to reinvent it as a different platform for progressive change."

CAP President Neera Tanden has strong ties to Bill and Hillary Clinton, and she came under fire in April when ThinkProgress produced a video attacking Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) as a hypocrite on wealth. Tanden distanced herself from the video, showing the occasionally awkward relationship between the think tank and the news site.

The Daily Beast noted other instances where the two entities clashed:

But the site suffered from editorial frictions during the Obama years, when the visions of some of the staff clashed with the larger political demands of CAP and its donors. At one point, CAP’s then-CEO Jen Palmieri wrote a guest post on Yglesias’ ThinkProgress blog to issue a defense of Third Way after Yglesias had criticized the centrist-Democratic group. Elsewhere, there were rifts and tensions over ThinkProgress posts that were critical of Israel.

In the fall of 2015, staffers at ThinkProgress unionized, in part as a means of formalizing editorial independence from CAP brass. And there was a sense that the election of Donald Trump in 2016 would spark a boomlet in material for staff to investigate and cover. In 2018, the site brought on board Jodi Enda, an alum of CNN, to serve as editor in chief, in what was presented as a movement towards more original reporting.

A CAP aide said a dozen ThinkProgress employees will lose their jobs and receive severance pay through November. Several on the staff had already been incorporated into CAP infrastructure over the past year.

Alumni of the site include such prominent media and political figures as Vox writer Matthew Yglesias, NBC News reporter Alex Seitz-Wald, HuffPost D.C. bureau chief Amanda Terkel, and Sanders's campaign manager Faiz Shakir.

Other prominent writers there included Zack Ford, who expressed a seeming excuse for violence against police officers in 2016, and Ian Millhiser, known for his mildly hysterical coverage of the Supreme Court and its conservative justices.