Non-profit

American Independent Institute

Website:

americanindependent.com/

DUNS Number:

14-461-2561

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Formation:

2006 in Washington, D.C.

Founder:

David S. Bennahum

The American Independent Institute, formerly the Center for Independent Media, is a fund for left-wing journalists to conduct deep reporting projects on the “nexus of conservative power in Washington.”[1] Run by Hillary Clinton confidant and founder of Media Matters for America David Brock, the Institute offers grants for journalistic endeavors, books, e-books, and documentaries[2] that explore conservative people, networks, and organizations from a progressive angle.[3]

The goal of the institute is to fund “impact journalism” to “investigate and disseminate news that impacts public debate” in two major ways. The first is to produce pressure, where the reporting causes a third party to publicly pressure the subject of a pieces based on information the institute reveals to “accept responsibility, reform its ways, or otherwise take actions.” The second is to create results, where the reporting causes the subject of a piece to “take action to address the problems revealed by our coverage.”[4]

The institute is a close ally of the David Brock network of progressive organizations, which includes the liberal online news source ShareBlue. American Independent Institute indicated it would give grants to “top investigative journalists to cover, expose and damage the Trump administration and its allies.”[5]

History

Center for Independent Media

The American Independent Institute was founded as the Center for Independent Media on May 1, 2006[6] by David S. Bennahum as a left-of-center state-based digital news-gathering network.[7] Bennahum, an alumnus of McKinsey & Company and the Democracy Alliance where he was a director of strategy and research, ran the Center for Independent Media until September 2011.[8] He currently works as a Venture Partner at Alpha Venture Partners[9] and helps to run a robotics programming company he founded called Ready Makers Inc.[10]

The Center for Independent Media began with 17 reporters participating across pilot programs in Colorado and Minnesota, eventually expanding to support reporters in Florida, Iowa, Michigan, New Mexico, and Washington, D.C. [11] The organization eventually supported multiple adjunct websites, most of which are defunct, including the Michigan Messenger, Iowa Independent, Minnesota Independent, Washington Independent, and New Mexico Independent.  The Colorado Independent continues to run as an independent progressive news site.[12]

After an initial round of layoffs in 2008, the Center for Independent Media eventually grew to 31 reporters, editors, and publishing staff by 2010.[13]

Name Change

As of January 2010, the Center changed its name to the American Independent Institute.[14] After more layoffs in 2010, the American Independent Institute went into a hiatus in early 2014.[15]

By the summer of 2014, David Brock took over the American Independent Institute and re-launched is as a fund for journalism that investigates conservatives and conservative organizations.[16] By that summer, the institute had already established grants to fund “investigations into the Gun Owners of America and its ‘radical” leader Larry Pratt; the efforts of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology to ‘undermine scientific inquiry’; and “the adverse impacts of the right-wing billionaire Koch Brothers’ business practices.”[17] These and other projects were set to appear in left-wing publications like the Huffington Post, Harper’s, and Washington Monthly, with the Gun Owners of America piece being the subject of a panel discussion so-sponsored by Rolling Stone in 2014 at the Open Society Foundations.[18] The American Independent Institute doled out $320,000 in its first year to support hostile investigations of right wing organizations.[19]

The American Independent Institute’s website has not been significantly updated in recent years. Each story on its home page was published in 2014, and its “Reporters” webpage frequently discusses pieces the future tense although those pieces have already been published. [20]

Funding

The Center for Independent Media was initially very successful, raising $11.5 million in its first four years,[21] and amount that included a $352,000 donation from the Knight Foundation[22] and two $100,000 donations from the Bauman Family Foundation.[23]

The American Independent Institute has also received funding from:[24]

The Arca Foundation

The Arcus Foundation

The Arkay Foundation

The Bohemian Foundation

The Boston Foundation

The Carnegie Corporation of New York

The Carsey Family Foundation

The Community Foundation of North Florida

The Dallas Foundation

The Denver Foundation

The Dwoskin Family Foundation

The Dyson Foundation

The Educational Foundation of America

The Foundation to Promote Open Society

The Gill Foundation

The H. van Ameringen Foundation

The Jon L. Hagler Foundation

The Loeb Family-Third Point Foundation

The Nick and Leslie Hanauer Foundation

The Mai Family Foundation

The Mark & Susan Torrance Foundation

The McKay Foundation

The Open Society Foundations (formerly Institute)

The Oppenheimer Brothers Foundation

The Pacific Foundation

The Park Foundation

The Pritzker Family Foundation

The Pritzker Innovation Fund

The Rockefeller Brothers Fund

The Schooner Foundation

The Silicon Valley Community Foundation

The Stoneman Family Foundation

The Barbra Streisand Foundation

The Surdna Foundation

People

David Brock re-founded the American Independent Institute and currently serves as the organization’s president. He was also the founded of Media Matters for America, a progressive media research center devoted to countering alleged “conservative misinformation in the U.S. media,”[25] particularly by targeting Fox News. Brock, a former conservative who went on to become an ardent defender of the Clintons in the public square, also leads the liberal American Bridge PAC, a “progressive research and communications organization” that targets and attacks Republican candidates.[26] Brock is a board member for Priorities USA Action, a progressive advocacy organization run by Guy Cecil, Hillary Clinton’s 2008 political director for her presidential campaign.[27] Priorities USA Action supported Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race[28] and is now committed to “standing up to the Trump administration and its allies.”[29]

Will Lippincott is the chairman of the board of directors for the American Independent Institute. He is a former publisher of the progressive magazine and website New Republic and also sits on the board of Media Matters for America.[30]

Marissa McNee serves on the board of the American Independent Institute and formerly worked as a consultant for the Campaign for Comprehensive Immigration Reform.[31]

Ari Rabin-Havt is the CEO of the American Independent Institute and an executive vice president of Media Matters. He is a former advisor to former Senate Majority Leader and progressive stalwart Harry Reid, as well as an adviser to Vice President Al Gore. He worked on John Kerry’s 2004 Presidential campaign and has worked on activist campaign for other left-wing organizations, including the ACLU, the Democratic National Committee, and Planned Parenthood.[32]

References

  1. Byers, Dylan. David Brock to launch journalism institute.” Politico. June 19, 2014. Accessed April 29, 2017. http://www.politico.com/blogs/media/2014/06/david-brock-to-launch-journalism-institute-190746.
  2. “What We Provide & Expect.” The American Independent Institute. Accessed April 29, 2017. http://www.americanindependent.com/what-we-provide-and-expect.
  3. “Donate Now.” The American Independent Institute. Accessed April 29, 2017. http://americanindependent.com/donate-now.
  4. “Impact.” The American Independent Institute. Accessed April 29, 2017. http://americanindependent.com/about-2/impact.
  5. Schoffstall, Joe. “David Brock’s Shareblue to Be ‘Nucleus’ Anti-Trump Media Entity.” Washington Free Beacon. January 24, 2017. Accessed May 09, 2017. http://freebeacon.com/issues/david-brocks-shareblue-nucleus-multi-platform-anti-trump-media-entity/
  6. “About Us.” The American Independent Institute.” Accessed April 29, 2017. http://americanindependent.com/about-2.
  7. “American Independent News Network.” Nieman Journalism Lab: Encyclo” Accessed April 29, 2017. http://www.niemanlab.org/encyclo/american-independent-news-network/?=fromembed.
  8. “David S. Bannehum.” LinkedIn. Accessed. April 28, 2017. https://www.linkedin.com/in/dbennahum/.
  9. “About Our Investment Focus.” Alpha. Accessed April 29, 2017. http://www.alphavp.com/about/.
  10. https://www.linkedin.com/company-beta/16231291/?pathWildcard=16231291. April 29, 2017
  11. “American Independent News Network.” Nieman Journalism Lab: Encyclo” Accessed April 29, 2017. http://www.niemanlab.org/encyclo/american-independent-news-network/?=fromembed.
  12. “The Colorado Independent.” The Colorado Independent. Accessed April 29, 2017. http://www.coloradoindependent.com/.
  13. McGann, Laura. “Center for Independent Media: Four lessons from a nonprofit that raised $11.5 million in four short years.” February 3, 2010. Accessed April 29, 2017. http://www.niemanlab.org/2010/02/center-for-independent-media-four-lessons-from-a-nonprofit-that-raised-11-5-million-in-four-short-years/.
  14. “About Us.” The American Independent Institute.” Accessed April 29, 2017. http://americanindependent.com/about-2.
  15. “American Independent News Network.” Nieman Journalism Lab: Encyclo” Accessed April 29, 2017. http://www.niemanlab.org/encyclo/american-independent-news-network/?=fromembed.
  16. Byers, Dylan. David Brock to launch journalism institute.” Politico. June 19, 2014. Accessed April 29, 2017. http://www.politico.com/blogs/media/2014/06/david-brock-to-launch-journalism-institute-190746.
  17. Byers, Dylan. David Brock to launch journalism institute.” Politico. June 19, 2014. Accessed April 29, 2017. http://www.politico.com/blogs/media/2014/06/david-brock-to-launch-journalism-institute-190746.
  18. Byers, Dylan. David Brock to launch journalism institute.” Politico. June 19, 2014. Accessed April 29, 2017. http://www.politico.com/blogs/media/2014/06/david-brock-to-launch-journalism-institute-190746.
  19. Goldberg, Michelle. “How David Brock Built an Empire to Put Hillary in the White House.” The Nation. November 25, 2014. Accessed April 29, 2017. https://www.thenation.com/article/how-david-brock-built-empire-put-hillary-white-house/.
  20. “The American Independent Institute.” The American Independent Institute. Accessed April 29, 2017. http://www.americanindependent.com/.
  21. McGann, Laura. “Center for Independent Media: Four lessons from a nonprofit that raised $11.5 million in four short years.” February 3, 2010. Accessed April 29, 2017.

    http://www.niemanlab.org/2010/02/center-for-independent-media-four-lessons-from-a-nonprofit-that-raised-11-5-million-in-four-short-years/.

  22. McGann, Laura. “Center for Independent Media: Four lessons from a nonprofit that raised $11.5 million in four short years.” February 3, 2010. Accessed April 29, 2017.

    http://www.niemanlab.org/2010/02/center-for-independent-media-four-lessons-from-a-nonprofit-that-raised-11-5-million-in-four-short-years/.

  23. “American Independent News Network (formerly Center for Independent Media)” The Bauman Foundation. Accessed April 29, 2017, http://www.baumanfoundation.org/grantee/53.
  24. “American Independent News Network (AINN).” Discover the Network. Accessed April 29, 2017. http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/printgroupProfile.asp?grpid=7832.
  25. “About.” Media Matters for America.” Accessed May 8, 2017. https://www.mediamatters.org/about.
  26. “Who We Are.” American Bridge.” Accessed May 8, 2017. https://americanbridgepac.org/about/.
  27. Nurik, Chloe. “Priorities USA Action.” FactCheck.org. January 22, 2016. Accessed May 8, 2017. http://www.factcheck.org/2016/01/priorities-usa-action/.
  28. Nurik, Chloe. “Priorities USA Action.” FactCheck.org. January 22, 2016. Accessed May 8, 2017. http://www.factcheck.org/2016/01/priorities-usa-action/.
  29. “About Priorities USA Action.” Priorities USA. Accessed May 8, 2017. http://prioritiesusaaction.org/about.
  30. “Board of Directors.” The American Independent Institute. Accessed May 8, 2017. http://americanindependent.com/board-of-directors.
  31. “Board of Directors.” The American Independent Institute. Accessed May 8, 2017. http://americanindependent.com/board-of-directors.
  32. “Board of Directors.” The American Independent Institute. Accessed May 8, 2017. http://americanindependent.com/board-of-directors.

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. David Brock
    Founder, President
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