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Facebook helped fund New York Times columnist David Brooks’s think tank project: report

David Brooks of the New York Times
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New York Times columnist David Brooks earned a second salary for a think tank project partially funded by Facebook without fully disclosing the relationship to his readers, BuzzFeed News reported Wednesday.

Brooks has been a Times columnist since 2003, according to a short biography on the newspaper’s website. He joined the Aspen Institute as part of Weave: The Social Fabric Project in March 2018. 

The Aspen Institute confirmed to BuzzFeed that Brooks was a staff member. It did not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment. 

Brooks could not be reached by The Hill for comment and also did not respond to BuzzFeed reporters’ questions, the outlet said. The Times also did not immediately respond to requests by The Hill for comment. 

Facebook donated $250,000 to the Aspen Institute in 2018 but has not, according to BuzzFeed, donated any money to Weave since then. A list of other donors to the Aspen Institute includes family foundations such as Bezos Family Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as well as companies such as Boeing, Best Buy and Bank of America.

Brooks has mentioned his work for Weave in at least three of his Times columns. In those pieces, he disclosed he was working with the project but not that he was being paid. He has also often opined on social media issues in columns, mentioning Facebook, its CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Instagram without mentioning his connection to the company.

A Times spokeswoman told BuzzFeed the paper is “in the process of reviewing David’s relationship with the Weave Project and the Aspen Institute, and what disclosures, if any, should be added to David’s columns going forward.” The Times would not tell BuzzFeed if it knew Brooks was being paid for his work at Weave.

Last week, The New York Times said it was not aware — and Brooks did not inform them — of a 900-plus word column he wrote for Facebook’s corporate site or that he had appeared on a Facebook-produced video panel hyping a study funded by the company.

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