The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Ethics Watchdog Launches "Hack Watch" Website Tracking Media Analysts

Larry Summers, Steven Rattner, Marc Goldwein, Maya MacGuineas Among Top Targets

The Revolving Door Project launched today, a new website dedicated to tracking conflicts of interest and flat-out falsehoods in economics reporting, and the so-called experts who perpetuate them.

The website follows up the Project’s successful “Hack Watch” newsletter, which publishes every Friday. The Project’s work exposing conflicts of interest in media analysts began with an investigation into Larry Summers’ ties to cryptocurrency in January. Every edition of the Hack Watch newsletter is available on the site, in addition to the following new content:

  • Bios on some of the top hacks the Project is already tracking:
    • Larry Summers
    • Steven Rattner
    • Marc Goldwein
    • Maya MacGuineas
  • The Hack Watch “Trope Tracker,” which names and shames common fallacies, falsehoods, and framing mistakes in economics coverage
  • An FAQ about the federal debt, perhaps the single most misreported economic issue

Revolving Door Project Personnel Team Director Max Moran, who co-leads the Hack Watch project, said the following:

“Economists like to sound certain, and they like to ridicule anyone who disagrees with them. This can incline reporters, especially reporters who worry that they don’t understand economics very well, to defer to economists unquestioningly. In the neoliberal age, economic analysis (from the right kind of neoclassical economists) was considered scientific truth.”

“This is nonsense. Economics isn’t a hard science, it’s a method of analysis — a set of tools that help us to understand a few particular ways of how the economy works. Deciding what’s actually right or wrong for the economy is always, ultimately, a matter of values and philosophy, which we express through politics. Anyone who claims they have the absolute answer to every economic question isn’t being honest with you. They’re being a hack, and they shouldn’t be considered serious sources.”

Revolving Door Researcher Dylan Gyauch-Lewis, who co-leads the Hack Watch project, said the following:

“The central conceit of economics is that preferences and incentives matter. Far too often, the media ends up platforming people with incentives and preferences that run counter to the public interest. When these hacks receive air time, they often present the existing socio-economic order as a natural phenomenon, softly echoing Margaret Thatcher’s famous ‘no alternative’ declaration. In a time of crisis after crisis, we cannot afford to restrict the public’s imagination to the world as it was in 1992.”

“The staid old guard not only restricts the public conception of what economic policy can be, it misleads about what that view already is. To allow the same few Clintonian New-Democrats to monopolize discourse does viewers, policymakers, and the world a great disservice.”

The Revolving Door Project (RDP) scrutinizes executive branch appointees to ensure they use their office to serve the broad public interest, rather than to entrench corporate power or seek personal advancement.