The journalism-nonprofit president talks to Michael E. Hartmann about the state of the Fourth Estate, the thinking that can and should happen in its decentralized online marketplace, and the thoughtful current re-examinations in both conservatism and liberalism.
David DesRosiers is president of the RealClearFoundation—a nonprofit that works in partnership with RealClearPolitics. RealClearInvestigations, which curates journalism and produces original investigative reporting, is among its signature initiatives. He joined RealClear from the Manhattan Institute, where he was executive vice president.
“Since RealClear’s inception, its primary approach has been aggregation: linking to the best of competing perspectives from all corners of the web and building a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts,” DesRosiers has written, “Readers, presented with rival authorities and institutions, are given the opportunity to compare and contrast—and come to their own conclusions. …
“Along the way,” he adds, “we found that bringing greater balance to the public discourse has required investment in original investigative reporting and analysis.”
Since he is quite capable of occasional, untelegraphed, insightful “earthiness” in expression, among other things, it is quite fun to speak with—and learn from—DesRosiers. He was kind, or bored, enough to join me for a conversation last month.
In the first of two parts of our discussion, which is here, we talk about his education and its benefits, the consequences of ideas in New York City, the worth of having a place for dialogue and reporting online, and philanthropy at its best.
In the second part—the just less than 14-minute video below—we talk about the state of the Fourth Estate, the thinking that can and should happen in its decentralized online marketplace, and the thoughtful current re-examinations in both conservatism and liberalism.
DesRosiers and Hartmann
“What we really need is good journalism,” DesRosiers tells me. “I think it’s wrong to turn journalists into stenographers, but it’s wrong for journalists to be activists.”
At RealClear, he notes, “We know there’s other people. There are other nonprofit efforts out there, other for-profit efforts out there. There’s TV journalism, there is internet journalism. There’s a very big marketplace out there …. The best thinking happens in a decentralized marketplace.”
It “doesn’t matter if you’re right, left, or center, you know, red, blue, or purple. You come to our site to see yourself in the mix, to see what things are trending,” according to DesRosiers.
“One of the things that’s most interesting about our present times,” he says, is that “the conservative mind is divided” and “the liberal-progressive mind is divided,” too, “so the American mind, both lobes of the brain, are actually in a state of re-examination ….”
People need “a common ground where they can come and kind of make a difference and show that, together, we want to get back to that difference of degree and not kind in terms of our thinking, our giving, our living,” DesRosiers adds.
Within conservatism in particular, “The money, the philanthropy that’s been supporting what some people have called ‘Conservative, Inc.,’ I think they’re going to have to re-examine where they’re putting their money,” he says.
“The old game has been changed substantially,” DesRosiers concludes.
It’s a different world right now. … It’s a time for philanthropists to realize that, to recognize that. If the goal of this is actually to show your best love of mankind, you might want to kind of look around and assess. Is this the best way to bring a philanthropic bang for your buck?