Shadow Network

Madison Skeptics
Madison Skeptics
Public group

Olive Garden Italian Restaurant

7017 Mineral Point Rd · Madison, WI

How to find us

Northeast corner of the West Towne campus, near the intersection of Gammon and Mineral Point Roads. When you enter the restaurant, ask for the Madison Skeptics dining room.

Location image of event venue



Our May program will be based on the 2019 book "Shadow Network: Media, Money, and the Secret Hub of the Radical Right", by Anne Nelson. It describes a web of interconnected organizations working largely out of public view to influence America in the direction of Christianity, entrepreneurialism, and libertarianism. Coordinating all of these disparate groups is the Council for National Policy, which doesn’t operate EXACTLY like a corporate board of directors calling all the shots but which certainly does expect most of its followers to fall into line with its top-down decision-making.

A list of the book’s chapters provides some sense of its scope: (1) In the Beginning: Texas; (2) The Birth of the CNP: Washington; (3) Lords of the Air: The CNP’s Media Empire; (4) The News Hole in the Heart of America; (5) Money People; (6) Fishers of Men: Electoral Stratagems; (7) Ideology 101: The CNP’s Campus Partners; (8) Koch, DeVos, Soros: Donors, Politics, and Pastors; (9) The Obama Challenge; (10) Data Wars; (11) The Art of the Deal: New York, June 21, 2016; (12) “The Miracle”; (13) Midterms; and (14) “Democracy in America”.

In her introduction, Nelson give us a dramatis personae divided into categories: the fundamentalists, the political operatives, the media, the money, heads of organizations, and technology strategists.

As atheists, we are probably most concerned with the ways in which the shadow network is being used to advance the cause of Christian Dominionism in what’s supposed to be a pluralistic democracy, but we ignore all of their fellow travelers at our own peril. Nonetheless, tonight’s program will concentrate on the shadow network’s religious agenda, which ironically uses techniques derived from hard-headed rationalism to promote its totally irrational agenda.

The Atheist Lounge will tackle this subject on, as usual, the last Thursday of the month. Order food and drink at 7 PM, with short presentation starting about 30-45 minutes thereafter, and plenty of open discussion after that.

It’s not necessary to have read the book in advance, but it wouldn’t hurt. And it’s worth your while. For a quicker read, check out the 2017 article from The Daily Kos: