Media Matters: We’re not defending letting the DOJ sift through reporters’ phone records, but Media Matters is

posted at 5:21 pm on May 15, 2013 by Allahpundit

I’m conflicted about calling them out on this, if only because some media types seem to be treating it as a betrayal of principle. Why? Carrying water for Democrats is the point of the organization. Of course they’d be apoplectic if a Republican president pulled the same move on the AP as Obama and Holder have, but that’s a given. To act surprised and disappointed that they’d take this line is to pay them the compliment of believing that they were ever more than a red-in-tooth-and-claw partisan org, and I refuse to pay it. Why would anyone else?

So here’s Media Matters doing what Media Matters does:

KEY ISSUES TO RAISE

If the press compromised active counter-terror operations for a story that only tipped off the terrorists, that sounds like it should be investigated.

It was not acceptable when the Bush Administration exposed Valerie Plame working undercover to stop terrorists from attacking us. It is not acceptable when anonymous sources do it either.

Is this story about a government source blowing the whistle on government misbehavior, or about a source gratuitously exposing ongoing counter-terrorism operations?

Did Republicans in Congress who are now exploiting the situation to score political points oppose the media shield law that likely would have protected the Associated Press in this situation?

How should the Justice Department strike the balance between respecting our free press and investigating damaging leaks that jeopardize counter-terrorism operations?

Emphasis in the original. (As Bryan Preston notes, “the Bush administration” is their term for Colin Powell’s deputy Richard Armitage, who outed Plame inadvertently.) The objection here isn’t to the talking points themselves, which are kinda sorta defensible in the abstract but maybe not for a fishing expedition that involved some 20 AP reporters. The objection is that, as anyone even passingly familiar with Media Matters understands, this sort of qualified, judicious let’s-wait-and-see defense of the DOJ would be unimaginable from them under a GOP administration. It’s just politics.

Speaking of which, a fun fact: The specific organization that issued these Obama-serving talking points is “Media Matters Action Network,” a sister org to “Media Matters For America” that’s tax-exempt under — ta da — section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code. It’s the same sort of organization, in other words, as the tea-party groups that were harassed by the IRS. How is it that TPers need special scrutiny for possibly engaging in political activities when one of the most notorious Democratic talking-point clearinghouses on the Internet got their 501(c)(4) status rubber-stamped? Good question. Here’s what the IRS says about the relevant statute:

To be tax-exempt as a social welfare organization described in Internal Revenue Code (IRC) section 501(c)(4), an organization must not be organized for profit and must be operated exclusively to promote social welfare

The promotion of social welfare does not include direct or indirect participation or intervention in political campaigns on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office. However, a section 501(c)(4) social welfare organization may engage in some political activities, so long as that is not its primary activity.

Who’s more of a threat to skirt the purpose of this section, a tea-party group with 20 members that might “indirectly participate” in a specific campaign somewhere or a large organization that reliably serves the national messaging needs of one of the two major parties? CBS reporter Jan Crawford noted a funny coincidence today:

Per Dana Loesch, the Daily Caller accused MMFA. a 501(c)(3) org, last year of collaborating with the DOJ press office on talking points, which may help explain MMAN’s servility this morning. There have been loads of lefty quasi-defenses lately of the IRS’s actions on grounds that, while it’s wrong to single out one side of the other, it’s high time to crack down on political activities by tax-exempt 501(c) groups, especially PACs. You will not, it’s safe to say, see MMFA/MMAN mentioned in those critiques despite (or rather, because of) the endless services they’ve provided to the White House’s and Democratic Party’s respective PR shops. Nor will you see the studiously apolitical “social welfare” group Organizing for Action mentioned, even though, if you can believe it, it’s a 501(c)(4) in good standing.

But here’s the punchline from MMFA/MMAN chairman David Brock, now that he’s been shamed into a response:

From David Brock, Chair of Media Matters for America and Media Matters Action Network:

Media Matters for America monitors, analyzes, and corrects conservative misinformation in the media and was not involved with the production of the document focusing on the DOJs investigation. That document was issued by “Message Matters,” a project of the Media Matters Action Network, which posts, through a different editorial process and to a different website, a wide range of potential messaging products for progressive talkers to win public debates with conservatives.

As a media watchdog organization, Media Matters for America recognizes that a free press is necessary for quality journalism and essential to our democracy. A healthy news media is what we fight for every day. Yesterday, 52 news organizations signed a letter to the Department of Justice expressing concerns that the DOJ’s broad subpoena of Associated Press reporters’ phone records runs counter to First Amendment principles and injures the practice of journalism. We stand with those news organizations and share their concerns.

Among the reporters openly laughing at the “Media Matters distances itself from Media Matters” defense: Ben Smith, Dylan Byers, and HuffPo’s Jason Linkins. Partisanship on the Democrats’ behalf is fine most of the time, but choosing the White House over the guild is going to earn MMFA heat from places it never anticipated. Oh well. In lieu of an exit question, I’ll leave you with Byers’s summary of Media Matters’s spin:


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Holder was asked at the hearing if he is still in contact with media matters.

Holder dodged by saying he didn’t understand the question.

workingclass artist on May 15, 2013 at 5:24 PM

OT: Obama to address the IRS scandal at 6pm EST. Must of found a YouTube video.

hillsoftx on May 15, 2013 at 5:28 PM

So someone will be bringing up all the releases of military and national security stuff by the New York Times during the Iraq War, right?

catmman on May 15, 2013 at 5:28 PM

Media Matters should go into the pretzel making business.

VorDaj on May 15, 2013 at 5:32 PM

Has IRS ever audited Media Matters ?
Why ?

burrata on May 15, 2013 at 5:33 PM

One of the Media Matters talking points:

It was not acceptable when the Bush Administration exposed Valerie Plame working undercover to stop terrorists from attacking us. It is not acceptable when anonymous sources do it either.

But if Veep Biden wants to call out SEAL Team 6 for the benefit of al Qaeda (the Seals are dead, Valerie Plame is alive), that’s cool.

de rigueur on May 15, 2013 at 5:33 PM

So, appalling liberal support group supports appalling liberal behavior. Again.

Color me a-freaking-mazed.

squint on May 15, 2013 at 5:34 PM

(As Bryan Preston notes, “the Bush administration” is their term for Colin Powell’s deputy Richard Armitage, who outed Plame inadvertently.)

This makes no sense, you can’t “out” someone who’s not undercover.

slickwillie2001 on May 15, 2013 at 5:35 PM

Wait. So a CBS reporter is making jokes about Media Matters being in the Obama tank?

oldroy on May 15, 2013 at 5:35 PM

This is how authoritarian regimes function, there will always be a base of support wholly dependent on those in power and they will act accordingly.

rob verdi on May 15, 2013 at 5:36 PM

Has IRS ever audited Media Matters ?
Why ?

burrata on May 15, 2013 at 5:33 PM

You realize audits are not alleged in the IRS scandal, right?

Capitalist Hog on May 15, 2013 at 5:37 PM

This makes no sense, you can’t “out” someone who’s not undercover.

slickwillie2001 on May 15, 2013 at 5:35 PM

You mean the whole investigation was a sham?

oldroy on May 15, 2013 at 5:38 PM

AllahP’s ‘buddy’

Schadenfreude on May 15, 2013 at 5:38 PM

I’m really loving the double standard espoused by many on the left that

1) Republican/conservative leaders and elected officials always be made to answer for the misdeeds or misstatements of anyone, no matter how independent or fringe, on the right (Todd Akin, Michael Savage, Alex Jones, etc.),

but,

2) Obama/Hillary/any Democrat can never be held responsible for the likes of Bill Maher, MSNBC producers, corrupt Democrat officials, Progress Kentucky, etc. — let alone the actions of those serving in the Administration at their pleasure and directly under their command (take your pick of any current scandal).

steebo77 on May 15, 2013 at 5:38 PM

Eric Boehlert must smoke a lot of Obama-Kush.

Capitalist Hog on May 15, 2013 at 5:39 PM

Wait. So a CBS reporter is making jokes about Media Matters being in the Obama tank?

oldroy on May 15, 2013 at 5:35 PM

Wish I could draw cartoons. This would be funny.

oldroy on May 15, 2013 at 5:39 PM

Media Matters shoots itself in the foot, then reloads and keeps blasting away!

michaelo on May 15, 2013 at 5:39 PM

Before Monday, government abuses of civil liberties had registered as policy disputes. And, because the complaints usually emanated not from powerful centrists or leaders of the opposition party but politically marginal liberal and left-wing critics, they often barely registered on the political debate at all. (Speaking personally, I plead semi-guilty. I’ve paid little attention to civil liberties, because there are only so many complex policy questions I’m capable of mastering, but I have applied this benign neglect in a scrupulously nonpartisan fashion to Democratic and Republican presidents alike.)

The head-spinning sequence of events from Friday to Monday suddenly elevated the phone records story from a one-day story that would produce denunciations in liberal blogs and taunting from the libertarian right into something categorically different. It was the capstone of the Obama Scandals.

Schadenfreude on May 15, 2013 at 5:39 PM

a wide range of potential messaging products for progressive talkers to win public political debates with conservatives.

FIFY
But isn’t this an admission that they are blatantly political in their “editorial process?” They didn’t say that their messages were intended to equalize public debate on social welfare issues, rather they are admitting to advancing progressive (i.e., Democrat) talking points. Not sure how this qualifies them as a charitable organization that works towards social welfare.

College Prof on May 15, 2013 at 5:40 PM

Mrs. Obama

Mr. Obama

Your America, circa May, 2013!!!

May these thugs destroy all who brung/kept them, and your families tood, irrecoverably. YOU deserve NO less and it’s the only hope the land has left.

Schadenfreude on May 15, 2013 at 5:41 PM

To be tax-exempt as a social welfare organization described in Internal Revenue Code (IRC) section 501(c)(4), an organization must not be organized for profit and must be operated exclusively to promote social welfare

OK , so what does it mean

and must be operated exclusively to promote social welfare…

????
Is destruction of Fox News and Glen Beck called social welfare ?

burrata on May 15, 2013 at 5:43 PM

Media Matters shoots itself in the foot, then reloads and keeps blasting away!

michaelo on May 15, 2013 at 5:39 PM

…reaches head and goes poof.

The leftards on this board are the dumbest creatures in America.

Schadenfreude on May 15, 2013 at 5:43 PM

May these thugs destroy all who brung/kept them, and your families tood, irrecoverably. YOU deserve NO less and it’s the only hope the land has left.

Schadenfreude on May 15, 2013 at 5:41 PM

No. They told us what they wanted to do. The Republicans told us they would do differently and then immediately took up leadership of the socialist causes once elected.

There should be no shock that the Obamas have done what they have done. And there should be not one more vote or dollar for the Republican party.

oldroy on May 15, 2013 at 5:44 PM

oldroy on May 15, 2013 at 5:44 PM

No disagreement on your latter point. One doesn’t excuse the other. I have no clue why you said “NO”. To Hades with all, the Oamas, those who brung/kept them, and the Rs.

Schadenfreude on May 15, 2013 at 5:46 PM

The buck stops at a different part of my website.

No, a completely different part of that website! Don’t you listen?

Axeman on May 15, 2013 at 5:46 PM

Is destruction of Fox News and Glen Beck called social welfare ?

burrata on May 15, 2013 at 5:43 PM

Yes. To them it is. Teaching the Constitution didn’t strike them to be much more than politics, but lobbying to get gays the right to call themselves married, that’s “social welfare”.

A news website that promises to report in the interest of the public, is “social welfare”.

Axeman on May 15, 2013 at 5:50 PM

No disagreement on your latter point. One doesn’t excuse the other. I have no clue why you said “NO”. To Hades with all, the Oamas, those who brung/kept them, and the Rs.

Schadenfreude on May 15, 2013 at 5:46 PM

Sorry. I guess I’m saying we shouldn’t be shocked about Obama. It wasn’t a secret what his intent was. It was a secret what the Republican party’s intent was.

Yes to Hades with all. I suspect that those who can lie so easily have no other place that they would be going anyway.

oldroy on May 15, 2013 at 5:50 PM

The buck stops at a different part of my website.

— Dylan Byers (@DylanByers) May 15, 2013

That about covers it.

MMFA claiming a ‘separation’ MMAN is like Coca-Cola buying Pepsico, marketing both products with their names still intact, then trying to tell the world they’re two completely different companies.

Liam on May 15, 2013 at 5:50 PM

As Bryan Preston notes, “the Bush administration” is their term for Colin Powell’s deputy Richard Armitage, who outed Plame inadvertently.

To “outed” Plame means she needed to have been in undercover operative within the last 5 years of the “out” and we found out that in fact she was not so there was no “outing” of her, which is why no one was ever charged with that crime. It is one thing for the democrats and liberal media to continue to claim this but I expected better from those at Hot Air.

JeffinSac on May 15, 2013 at 5:52 PM

Laugh and Jeer time :-)

AP – this is not a sufficiently “drive the stake through” post.

antisocial on May 15, 2013 at 5:55 PM

Not that it would happen in DC, but it’s time the Bar stopped Holder from masquerading as a professional attorney. He’s a political hack, nothing more. His poor conduct, general ignorance of things important, lack of maturity, and among other things, lack of professionalism is unbecoming to the profession. Had he spoken to a judge like that he’d be serving time for contempt.

Since when does a government appointee get to lecture those who approve him about demeanor?

And if he were a real partner in a law firm and knew as little about what was going on in his department as he professes, there’d be numerous malpractice claims and the firm would be uninsurable.

What a tool.

Thanks for listening!

EB

EdmundBurke247 on May 15, 2013 at 6:00 PM

apoplectic

Dude, Don’t make me get my dictionary out…

Kaptain Amerika on May 15, 2013 at 6:15 PM

Where was Media Matters when the NYT’s exposed the tracking of terrorist money?

Media Matters – selective hypocrites!

GarandFan on May 15, 2013 at 6:34 PM

Allah, I haven’t heard the term ‘red in tooth and claw’ since my 18th Century British Poetry course….. It pleaseth me well, I doth declare.

cynccook on May 15, 2013 at 6:39 PM

Dude, Don’t make me get my dictionary out…

Kaptain Amerika on May 15, 2013 at 6:15 PM

It means one’s head ’bout to bust open.

cynccook on May 15, 2013 at 6:40 PM

And Media Matters sailed throught their tax exempt application process…No problems.

d1carter on May 15, 2013 at 6:42 PM

Lol. Going after Media Matters already? Didn’t take the billies that long to draw the parallel.

HotAirLib on May 15, 2013 at 6:43 PM

And Media Matters sailed throught their tax exempt application process…No problems.
d1carter on May 15, 2013 at 6:42 PM

Probably because they tell the truth.

HotAirLib on May 15, 2013 at 6:45 PM

Holy Carp! Breaking news headline!!!

It was not acceptable when the Bush Administration exposed Valerie Plame working undercover to stop terrorists from attacking us. It is not acceptable when anonymous sources do it either.

Valerie Plame was working undercover?

Since when???

JohnD13 on May 15, 2013 at 6:54 PM

How many truckloads of paper did Media Matters have to send to the IRS to get their tax exempt status approved..? Anybody?

d1carter on May 15, 2013 at 6:56 PM

Well, in their defense, Media Matters does support the Progressive agenda so no questions were necessary. Evidently, it is the way the IRS has worked for years.

d1carter on May 15, 2013 at 6:58 PM

David Brock finally airs his mental problems. ‘That wasn’t me defending the administration. That was another guy named David Brock. I ♥ the 1st Amendment. For real.’

Resist We Much on May 15, 2013 at 7:03 PM

Probably because they tell the truth.

HotAirLib on May 15, 2013 at 6:45 PM

Riiiiight, so it wasn’t lying when it said that conservative media hadn’t been covering the Gosnell trial either.

Please tell nobrain.

Jazz, I think it’s time for another gosnell post…

*snickers*.

nonpartisan on April 27, 2013 at 3:02 PM

Resist We Much on May 15, 2013 at 7:11 PM

I thought it notable that in regard to AP/DOJ, Media Matters invoked “la Affair Ms Flame” as part of it’s defense talking points.

Even more notable was that they managed to find a link to NPR for “Timeline: The CIA Leak Case” which is complete devoid of the name of the leaker, Richard Armitage.

J_Crater on May 15, 2013 at 7:14 PM

HotLips on May 15, 2013 at 6:43 PM

…its dumbPhucks shift!

KOOLAID2 on May 15, 2013 at 7:28 PM

Probably because they tell the truth.

HotAirLib on May 15, 2013 at 6:45 PM

You jagoffs wouldn’t know the truth if it bit you in the ass.

bbinfl on May 15, 2013 at 7:52 PM

Definition of libturd’s idea of the truth – “Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.”

bbinfl on May 15, 2013 at 7:55 PM

Media Matters for America monitors, analyzes, and corrects conservative misinformation in the media and was not involved with the production of the document focusing on the DOJs investigation.

Mr. Brock, I don’t think that word means what you think it means. I think the word you were looking for was on the order of “disputes”, “obfuscates”, “spins”, “waxes apoplectic over conservative facts”, “denies”, “mocks”, or “deflects”.

… and I fixed your typo regarding conservative information in the media

You’re welcome

AZfederalist on May 15, 2013 at 8:04 PM

OT: Obama to address the IRS scandal at 6pm EST. Must of found a YouTube video.

hillsoftx on May 15, 2013 at 5:28 PM

Is this a re-run? Didn’t we do this yesterday, and will he misuse another Marine?

dogsoldier on May 16, 2013 at 5:58 PM