The group, launched as a more traditional media critic, has all but abandoned its monitoring of newspapers and other television networks and is narrowing its focus to Fox and a handful of conservative websites, which its leaders view as political organizations and the nerve center of the conservative movement. The shift reflects the centrality of the cable channel to the contemporary conservative movement, as well as the loathing it inspires among liberals not least among the donors who fund Media Matters staff of about 90, who are arrayed in neat rows in a giant war room above Massachusetts Avenue.
Media Matters is going so far as to hire an opposition research team to help orchestrate the campaign against the news station. Brock indicates that the opposition research team has been hired not only to assemble files on Foxs top executives but on many of their midlevel officials as well.
Media Matters has already taken part in a campaign launched by ColorofChange.org to pull advertisers from Fox News Glenn Beck program. A number of advertisers reacted to the campaign by pulling their ads, including Lawyers.com, Procter & Gamble, Progressive, S.C. Johnson, Geico, and Sargento.
Now Media Matters is putting together a legal team comprised of people who have conflicted with Fox News in the past to help file lawsuits against the news station for issues such as defamation and privacy invasion. Politico writes:
The group is assembling a legal team to help people who have clashed with Fox to file lawsuits for defamation, invasion of privacy or other causes. And it has hired two experienced reporters, Joe Strupp and Alexander Zaitchik, to dig into Foxs operation to help assemble a book on the network, due out in 2012 from Vintage/Anchor. (In the interest of full disclosure, Media Matters last month also issued a report criticizing Fox and Friends co-host Steve Doocys criticism of this reporters blog.)
Media Matters also indicates that it will launch a broader campaign against Foxs parent company, News Corp.: The group hired an executive from MoveOn.org to work on developing campaigns among News Corp. shareholders and also is looking for ways to turn regulators in the U.S., U.K., and elsewhere against the network.
Attempting to clarify Media Matters position, Brock declares, Criticizing Fox News has nothing to do with criticizing the press. Fox News is not a news organization. It is the de facto leader of the GOP, and it is long past time that it is treated as such by the media, elected officials, and the public.
The Blaze contends that Media Matters actions may be illegal. It writes:
According to the groups 2009 tax return, the stated purpose of Media Matters is to "notify activists, journalists, pundits and the general public about instances of misinformation, providing them with the resources to rebut false claims and take direct action against offending media institutions."
However, Brocks declaration against Fox has prompted bloggers to point out Media Matters 501(c)3 tax-exempt status, which should ultimately prevent such overtly political goals.
Brandon Kiser of The Right Sphere blog notes that if Media Matters intends to maintain its political focus against Fox News, it should relinquish its tax exempt status:
The cutesy-sounding mission of Media Matters to "correct conservative misinformation" is no longer even remotely appropriate. No, MMFA is a political group with $10 million-plus in annual funding designed to wage war against Fox News, and in their eyes the GOP and conservatives as a whole.
Because of this, Media Matters should reconsider their 501(c)(3) status which is designated for religious, charitable, scientific, literary, or educational purposes. MMFA no longer meets any of these qualifiers (its arguable they never did) and under the banner of waging a war against Fox News and the GOP puts them in an entirely different zip code.
Anyone who peruses Media Matters on a regular basis knows that the group virtually sustains itself by targeting nearly every item reported on the Fox News channel, most prominently from the Glenn Beck program. However, with the groups founder openly declaring war on a news station that he claims to be an arm of the GOP, it becomes clear that the group can no longer maintain its tax exempt status.
Future of Capitalism.com also went to the trouble of researching Media Matters financial sources. In addition to a $1 million gift from George Soros last year, the groups most recent IRS form shows Rachel Pritzker Hunter as a director the company. Its worth noting that Hunter also gave $1 million to a pro-Obama political group in Ohio for the 2008 election.
Furthermore, according to Future of Capitalism, there may be additional connections to the Obama administration:
And Penny Pritzker "serves on the President's Council for Jobs and Competitiveness which advises the Obama Administration on economic growth and job creation. For the past two years, Ms. Pritzker served on the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board which evaluated economic policy. She was National Finance Chair of the Barack Obama for President campaign and co-chair of the 2009 Presidential Inaugural Committee." The Pritzkers are a large and sometimes feuding family, but if there's some kind of family connection between a director of a group launching a $10 million a year "war" on Fox News and the national finance chair of the Barack Obama for President campaign, it would be interesting to know about it. Maybe Rachel Pritzker Hunter and Penny Pritzker have never met, are not related, and just happen to have the same name. I don't know. But I do know that if some relative of the national finance chair of the George W. Bush campaign were a board member of a $10 million a year, 90 employee "war" on the New York Times, the press would be all over it as some kind of White House effort to intimidate or retaliate against a free and independent press.
Graphic: Media Matters webpage slams Glenn Beck