People for the American Way

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People For the American Way
People For the American Way logo 2007.png
Founded September 4, 1980; 36 years ago (1980-09-04)[1]
Founder Norman Lear
Type Advocacy group
Legal status 501(c)(4) social welfare organization[1]
Focus Progressive advocacy
Area served
United States
Method Media attention, direct-appeal campaigns
Lara Bergthold[2]
Affiliations People for the American Way Foundation, People for the American Way Voters Alliance, People for the American Way Action Fund
Revenue (2014)
Expenses (2014) $5,690,909[1]
Employees (2014)
Mission "To mobilize members and activists to fight for public policies that reflect the values of freedom, fairness, and equal opportunity."[1]

People For the American Way (PFAW) is a progressive advocacy group in the United States.[4] Organized as a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization, PFAW was founded in 1981 by television producer Norman Lear.[5] Lear founded the organization in 1980 to challenge the Moral Majority.


PFAW was founded by television producer Norman Lear in opposition to the highly publicized agenda of the Moral Majority, a formerly prominent and influential American political organization associated with the Christian right.[6][7] Officially incorporated on September 4, 1980,[1] its co-founders included Democratic Congresswoman Barbara Jordan and Time Inc. chairman and CEO Andrew Heiskell.[8] PFAW began as a project of the Tides Foundation,[9] a donor-advised fund that directs money to politically liberal causes.[10]

Former presidents of PFAW include Tony Podesta[11] and Ralph Neas.[12]

Soon after its founding, PFAW launched an affiliated 501(c)(3) organization, People for the American Way Foundation, for the purpose of conducting more extensive educational and research activities for left-wing causes.[13] Later,[when?] the People For the American Way Voter Alliance was launched as a political action committee.


PFAW monitors what it characterizes as "right-wing" activities. Toward this end, the organization sponsors a website called Right Wing Watch, which showcases video footage of groups and individuals who take conservative stances on social issues.[14]

In 2014, Jason and David Benham lost the opportunity to host their own HGTV television show after Right Wing Watch labeled the brothers as "anti-gay, anti-choice extremists" because of their statements at various events about homosexuality. In response, David Benham said: "We love all people. I love homosexuals. I love Islam, Muslims, and my brother and I would never discriminate. Never have we -- never would we."[15][16]

PFAW has been active in battles over judicial nominations, opposing U.S. Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork and supporting the nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court of Sonia Sotomayor.[5] PFAW is also active in federal elections, donating $339,874 to oppose Republican candidates in the 2014 election cycle.[17]


In October 2016, PFAW Regional Political Coordinator Scott Foval[18] was revealed by James O'Keefe to have engaged in multiple illegal activities, to include hiring homeless people to provoke violence at Donald J. Trump rallies, as well as illegally busing in voters in support of Democratic candidates.

During one conversation with an undercover operative for O'Keefe's Project Veirtas Action, Foval stated, "It's a very easy thing for the Republicans to say, 'Well, they're busing people in.' We've been bussing people in to deal with you assholes for fifty years and we're not going to stop now.[19] Foval later went on to detail how difficult it would be to charge someone with illegally bussing in voters as well as with charging them. Foval stated, "It's the legality, because you can prove conspiracy if there's a bus. If there are cars it's much harder to prove."[20]


Michael Keegan is the organization's president. Members of the group's board of directors include John Hall Buchanan, Jr., Alec Baldwin, Seth MacFarlane, Mary Frances Berry, Julian Bond, Bertis Downs IV, James Hormel, Dolores Huerta, Jane Lynch, Josh Sapan, Dennis Van Roekel, Howie Klein and Reg Weaver.[2]


Major donors to PFAW include George Soros' Open Society Institute, the Miriam G. and Ira D. Wallach Foundation, the Bauman Foundation, and the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund.[8]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "People for the American Way". District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs. Government of the District of Columbia; accessed May 7, 2016.
  2. ^ a b "Board of Directors". People for the American Way. Retrieved May 7, 2016.
  3. ^ "Staff". People for the American Way. Accessed on May 7, 2016.
  4. ^ Encyclopedia of Educational Reform and Dissent, Thomas C. Hunt & James C. Carper & Thomas J. Lasley II & C. Daniel Raisch.(link) 2010, Sage Publications; ISBN 9781412956642
  5. ^ a b Day, Patrick Kevin (October 7, 2011). "Norman Lear Celebrates 30 Years of People For the American Way". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 7, 2015. 
  6. ^ Reeves, Richard (May 13, 2009). "What is the American Way of Life?". Real Clear Politics. Retrieved May 7, 2015. 
  7. ^ Djupe, Paul; Olson, Laura (2014). Encyclopedia of American Religion and Politics. Infobase Publishing. p. 287. ISBN 9781438130200. 
  8. ^ a b Evans, Will (September 30, 2008). "McCain, GOP Senators Challenged On Pay Equity For Women". NPR. Retrieved May 7, 2015. 
  9. ^ 1976–2001: 25 Years of Working Toward Positive Social Change. Tides Foundation, 2001. p. 8. Available at as a PDF file. Retrieved 2016-08-26. "[Timeline, 1980] ... Norman Lear and others launch a Tides project: People for the American Way".
  10. ^ "History". Tides. Retrieved May 7, 2015.  See also, Hewat, N. Campaigning for Educational Policy Reform: An Ecological Analysis of a 'People for the American Way' Grassroots Organizing Phenomenon, doctoral diss., University at Albany, State University of New York, 1986.
  11. ^ Miles, Sara. "Do YOU Know Tony Podesta?". Wired. Retrieved 6 May 2015. 
  12. ^ "People for the American Way President Ralph Neas Discusses Opposition to Ashcroft for Attorney General". CNN. January 16, 2001. Retrieved May 6, 2015. 
  13. ^ Glanz, James (March 11, 2000). "Survey Finds Support Is Strong For Teaching 2 Origin Theories". The New York Times. 
  14. ^ Gryboski, Michael (November 21, 2013). "'Right Wing Watch' YouTube Account Again Suspended Due to Fmr. Navy Chaplain's Complaint". Christian Post. Retrieved May 7, 2015. 
  15. ^ Pappas, Alex (May 12, 2014). "Meet The Liberal Network That Orchestrated The Hit On The Benham Brothers". Daily Caller. Retrieved May 7, 2015. 
  16. ^ Respers France, Lisa (May 19, 2014). "Benham brothers lose HGTV show after 'anti-gay' remarks". CNN. Retrieved 7 May 2015. 
  17. ^ "People For The American Way". Center for Responsive Politics. Retrieved May 7, 2015. 
  18. ^ "Scott Foval | People For the American Way". 2014-11-17. Retrieved 2016-10-20. 
  19. ^ Stinson, Jim. "Bombshell Video: Democrat Admits to Widespread Voter Fraud". LifeZette. Retrieved 2016-10-20. 
  20. ^ Right, The (2014-06-20). "WATCH: New BOMBSHELL video just released by James O'Keefe on MASS VOTER FRAUD". The Right Scoop. Retrieved 2016-10-20. 

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