Neera Tanden, president and CEO of C enter for American Progress (CAP) said Monday that a video is critical of Bernie Sanders and shared by the group's associated news website , Think Progress, was "overly harsh."
The orientation of CAP is to positively engage with all political leaders about the country's future, "Tanden said in a new statement on Monday.
ThinkProgress is editorially independent of CAP and CAP Action, which is what made it valuable as a news outlet. Similarly, we at CAP can form our own opinions about their work. We believe the content of ThinkProgress video critiquing Sen. Sanders is overly harsh and does not reflect our approach to a constructive debate on issues.
Her comments followed a back-and-forth between CAP and Sanders, who accused the group of using Think Progress to "smear" him and others progressive candidates running for president.
"I and other Democrats are running campaigns based on principles and ideas and not engaging in mudslinging or personal attacks on each other," Sanders said in a letter to the CAP's board. "Meanwhile, the Center for American Progress is using its resources to smear Senator Booker, Senator Warren, and myself, among others. This is hardly the way to build unity, or to win the general election. "
The accusation leveled by Sanders amplified the long-simmering tensions between the supporters of the Vermont senator and allies of Hillary Clinton, who won the Democratic nomination in 2016 The CAP was founded by John Podesta, who was White House chief of staff for Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign chairman. Complicating the relationship, Sanders' campaign manager, Faiz Shakir, was formerly editor-in-chief of Think Progress.
The controversy stems from a video published by Think Progress that criticizes Sanders for being a millionaire while railing against an elite class and the concentration of wealth.
In a statement on Sunday, Tanden said the news outlet was "editorially independent" and said the think tank "can not and not muzzle ThinkProgress".
"The Center for American Progress is a research institution focused on ideas and politics. ThinkProgress is part of the CAP Action: It is editorially independent of CAP and CAP Action and has been for years, "the statement said. "We do not recommend, edit, approve or see their stories before publishing. And, in this particular instance, no one at CAP or CAP Action knew about this article or video's existence before publication. "