Media Matters for America is a left-leaning media watchdog group noted for their aggressiveness.
Their targets? Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, Fox News, and anything to the right of Michael Moore.
When it was learned that Fox News hired respected White House correspondent Ed Henry away from CNN, Media Matters sprang into action with a document attacking Henry.
In the document, Media Matters noted, for example, “In 2005, Henry described a Democratic proposal for withdrawal from Iraq as what ‘some have referred to’ as ‘the cut-and-run provision,’ a phrase that echoed a Republican talking point about the conflict.” The horror! [Check out a roundup of political cartoons on Democrats.]
That Henry reported what Republicans were saying—as opposed to incorporating those points—is hardly noteworthy, much less-attack worthy. It was a weak attack, but the weakness of the attack didn’t prevent the Atlantic from reporting, “Media Matters Instantly Declares War on Ed Henry.”
And it’s that word “war” that is so striking.
As C. Boyden Gray noted in this morning’s Washington Times, Media Matters’s leadership has taken a tone of battle: David Brock, who founded Media Matters in 2004 with what the New York Times called “more than $2 million in donations from wealthy liberals” (at least $1 million later came from George Soros), has declared a new strategy for Media Matters, one based on “a war on Fox” and “guerilla warfare” meant to “disrupt [Rupert Murdoch’s] commercial interests.”
Media Matters is an Internal Revenue Service Section 501(c)(3) organization, meaning it receives tax-deductible donations for educational activities. Unfortunately for Media Matters, the tax code is not written to support “guerilla warfare,” which is not an educational activity in any event. [See a slide show of 10 ways the GOP can take down Obamacare.]
As Gray notes “What MMA [Media Matters for America] actually is doing, however, moves far afield from identifying possible bias to mounting a campaign to undermine a major media outlet and to promote the Democratic Party and progressive causes associated with it.”
Scrutiny on the media is higher than ever. Watchdog groups work 24/7 to monitor a 24/7 media. Much of this work is important, as all media gets things wrong every day. Simple mistakes, ignoring key facts, or flat-out bias by a reporter or an editor can mislead readers and viewers. It’s important to have media watchdog groups out there to keep the media honest—to fact check the fact checkers.
Declaring open war on a news organization, however, is another matter; one our tax should not help subsidize.