One of the all-time greatest hits of right-wing pundits is the insistence on a “liberal bias” in the media. Journalist and historian Eric Alterman exposed this myth in his 2003 book, What Liberal Media?  yet it persists, often resulting in mainstream media outlets caving to a strategy known as “working the refs,” in which shrill cries of bias cause journalists and pundits to privilege right-leaning perspectives so they won’t be accused.
A disturbing example of this trend haunts the pages of the New York Times, in which the pernicious work of the decidedly right-wing Peter G. Peterson Institute is treated as ideologically unbiased while that of other organizations across the spectrum are consistently mentioned along with an ideological tag; often one designed to misguide readers on the actual nature of the organization’s agenda.
Let’s take a tour of the NYT archives.
When the Koch-backed Cato Institute is mentioned, the label “libertarian” tends to appear. An article  about Ben Bernanke’s stance on China’s currency undervaluation, for example, tells us that “speakers at a conference in Washington, organized by the libertarian Cato Insitute warned that the Fed’s monetary policy could lead to asset-price bubbles….” The ideological tag alerts the reader to take the assertion with a grain of salt. The obviously right-wing Heritage Foundation is usually tag-less and never characterized as “right-leaning,” but occasionally the term “conservative ” will appear when it is mentioned.
The Obama-supporting Center for American Progress is alternatively described as “liberal ” or “center left ” as in this article: “The center-left Center for American Progress opened in 2003 when the Democrats were in political exile.” The Institute for Policy Studies is called  a “left-leaning think tank in Washington.”
Third Way, a big money front group  whose governing board is totally dominated by Wall Street financiers, is absurdly characterized  as a “moderately left-wing think tank,” when in fact, as Bill Black has pointed out , it is dedicated to a right-wing agenda of shredding the social safety net and imposing self-destructive austerity on America.
Which brings us to the case of the Peter G. Peterson Institute, which backs Third Way. Pete Peterson, the founder and principal doner of this “policy center” is a conservative Republican billionaire who made his money as a Wall Street hedge fund manager and served as secretary of commerce under President Richard Nixon. He has devoted himself and his billions to promoting deficit hysteria and convincing the public that programs like Social Security and Medicare will destroy the economy. His economic policies come from the far right and his organization is dedicated to producing propaganda masquerading as serious research. He has a huge and well-paid staff (and one of them will be contacting me after the publication of this article attempting to brow-beat me into telling lies about their boss).
The mythology promoted by Peterson has done incalculable harm to America. His belief in the absurd efficient market theory, in which financial markets magically regulate themselves, has helped produce widespread and continuing fraud epidemics. He has consistently pushed austerity (based, as we now know, on the discredited research of Harvard economists Reinhart and Rogoff ) which has led to job loss, economic stagnation and untold misery for millions.
If there is an actual “Third Way”, splitting the difference between austerity and Keynesian stimulus spending, we had that. Not in the first year of the Obama administration, that was a conservative legacy budget, but from 2009 to 2012 we had austerity-lite. Peterson is not just your average dangerous ideologue, he is true social-Darwinist. he would probably tell the story differently, but Peterson is a good example of corporate welfare. he made his fortune riding on the back of the work, products and services produced by working class Americans. He bought and sold investment instruments based on the productivity of people who did actual work. because he sometimes sit at a desk for 14 hour hours over a spread sheet, he’ll claim he worked so very hard to make his money. In the age of the richest robber barons in history, we have a whole new definition of what constitutes work. So he doesn’t do physical labor, he produces an intellectual property or resource. Not really. We have several universities that crank out thousands of people every year that are as smart, if not smarter than Peterson. You have never used a program that Peterson wrote, used an engine he engineered, switched on a circuit he invented or walked on a sidewalk he paved. You have sent him part of your pay check. Because those at the top of the pyramid get a cut of every minute you work.