Green Room

MMFA’s “War on Fox”

posted at 9:21 am on March 26, 2011 by

Several friends drew my attention to a piece over at Politico this morning. It deals with an announcement of sorts regarding a “transformation” of the mission of Media Matters for America and their upcoming, self-described “war on Fox.”

The liberal group Media Matters has quietly transformed itself in preparation for what its founder, David Brock, described in an interview as an all-out campaign of “guerrilla warfare and sabotage” aimed at the Fox News Channel.

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 a political organizations and the “nerve center” of the conservative movement…

“The strategy that we had had toward Fox was basically a strategy of containment,” said Brock, Media Matters’ chairman and founder and a former conservative journalist, adding that the group’s main aim had been to challenge the factual claims of the channel and to attempt to prevent them from reaching the mainstream media.

The new strategy, he said, is a “war on Fox.”

I’ll confess that my initial reaction was one of confusion, essentially wondering, “Ummm, isn’t that what they’ve always done?” But still, some of my regular conservative contacts are treating this as something of an Aha moment.

One of them described it as “pretty creepy” while another asked, “Don’t you think ‘oppo research’ against mid-level execs in a free media outlet is a tad chilling?

I’ve been struggling with that question this morning, and frankly I’m just not convinced that this qualifies as a “bad thing,” particularly in light of the fact that they are openly admitting that’s what they’re doing. Further, some of the same friends raising the alarm over MMFA’s announcement seemed curiously quiet when James O’Keefe took it upon himself to “investigate” executives at NPR and PBS to discover bias in their ranks, leading to the resignation of CEO Vivian Schiller. Would we be equally up in arms if someone were checking into the affairs of anchors, reporters, production executives and owners at MSNBC to see if, perhaps, they might have a tad bit of a liberal slant to their world view? (Duh)

Yes, I recognize the knee-jerk response to say that NPR and PBS both receive taxpayer dollars and should be held to a higher standard of transparency. But they do operate as media entities, not government agencies. Further, the media – especially the portion of it covering politics and government – are pretty much a de facto fourth branch of the government anyway. That description was enshrined by the founders right in the first amendment. Doesn’t the public have a right to know what’s going on with the people who provide the news, even if it’s a private corporation?

For that matter, doesn’t any corporation which provides goods or services to the public deserve some level of scrutiny so consumers can shop wisely? If a production line manager at a baby food company had a history of arrests for poisoning food, wouldn’t you want to know that before you made a purchase?

And let’s remember that this is a completely private outfit (MMFA) doing the investigating, not the United States government, so arguments about unconstitutional prying eyes doesn’t really cut it here.

In the end, if you honestly believe that Fox news isn’t up to anything improper, then they have nothing to worry about. And if MMFA just starts making things up out of thin air to attack them, that should be easily proven and potentially even open up the “watchdogs” to court proceedings over slander, etc. The more I think about it, maybe every major distributor of political news and opinion could use a set of well funded watchdogs investigating their staff, their practices and their product. It’s an important service which the entire nation relies upon, affecting one of our most sacred duties in the form of voting.

The media is tasked with watching the government and our politicians for us. But this begs the old question, who will watch the watchers? If you want to be upset about anything, perhaps you should be put off that there isn’t a better organized set of similar watchdogs digging in to MSNBC as well as the major network news shops, papers and radio.

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I understand “blind ambition” better now.

ericdijon on March 26, 2011 at 9:32 AM

It’s one thing to have honest brokers acting as media watchdogs, but we’ve seen the quality and accuracy of MMFA’s reporting already.

flipflop on March 26, 2011 at 9:40 AM

And let’s remember that this is a completely private outfit (MMFA) doing the investigating, not the United States government, so arguments about unconstitutional prying eyes doesn’t really cut it here.

If you really believe there aren’t any tax dollars involved in this, you are a fool.

gryphon202 on March 26, 2011 at 9:44 AM

“Opposition research” against private citizens in a private corporation by any other name is a reputation destruction racket. You think that doesn’t cross a moral line?

publiuspen on March 26, 2011 at 10:00 AM

If you really believe there aren’t any tax dollars involved in this, you are a fool.

gryphon202 on March 26, 2011 at 9:44 AM

Amen to that. This is Hugo Chavez redux.

Sekhmet on March 26, 2011 at 10:13 AM

I frankly don’t care what they do…

The truth wins, and I could care less if they don’t like it. Smearing people doesn’t stop the truth. It’s good enough maybe for them and their minority to latch onto like the knot on the end of a rag, but it doesn’t change the truth, does it.

They have smeared for years. If it worked they wouldn’t be changing their spin “mission”.

What’s needed is another conservative TV channel. (Or at least unbiased). ALL any one of the networks has to do is hire and act responsibly and they will SOAR!

CBS, are you listening, or are you just going to fade away?

golfmann on March 26, 2011 at 10:43 AM

Yes, I recognize the knee-jerk response to say that NPR and PBS both receive taxpayer dollars and should be held to a higher standard of transparency.

The “knee-jerk response,” which is the entire point.

Jim Treacher on March 26, 2011 at 10:48 AM

The good thing is Media Matters’ latest brainstorm will assure Amercia of another episode of “Red Eye Robot Theater” next week.

jon1979 on March 26, 2011 at 10:51 AM

“All this was inspired by the principle–which is quite true within itself–that in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation. For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying.”

– Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf Volume 1, Chapter Ten.

Sort of like one expert liar commenting on other expert liars.

Regarding Media Matters for [Totalitarian] America, to paraphrase Scripture, they are children of the Father of Lies and the truth is not in them. I view their “war” less as a war on Fox than a war on facts that hamper their goal of National Socialism.

Or perhaps I’m paranoid…

oldleprechaun on March 26, 2011 at 10:57 AM

I’ve been struggling with that question this morning, and

Well, you do that. You keep right on “struggling” with the question and making your elegant, ever-so-equable and evenhanded ratiocinations. Meanwhile, the rest of us — the ones who “get it” — will move forward with the realization that we’re at war, and have been for some time, and that the preponderant and sinister biases and slanders of the Left have nothing to do with “watchdogs” or media criticism or anything else but the annihilation of dissent.

rrpjr on March 26, 2011 at 11:02 AM

Anyone with a decent command of the English language knows that reporters (using the term loosely) invoke the words “may” and “could”, “if”, “might” and “perhaps” quite a bit. “Alleged” killer, “alledgely” was drunk. All these let them off the liability hook, disqualify them from any responsbility to the truth or facts, and we wind up with anyone in front of a camera, microphone or blog able to say or repeat anything their brains can formulate.

“It may rain today, and if it does, the alledged drug dealers might not sell as many so-called drugs to the purported addicts.”

Um, yeah. Right.

Robert17 on March 26, 2011 at 12:26 PM

Jazz, read again David Brock’s quote(bolding mine):

David Brock, described in an interview as an all-out campaign of “guerrilla warfare and sabotage” aimed at the Fox News Channel.

It’s that one word that’s provoking the “aha” moment. Sabotage implies actively destroying your target by your actions, not theirs.

You compare Media Matters new strategy to James O’keefe, but did he sabotage ACORN or NPR? No. They walked right into his trap and shot themselves. That’s media guerrilla warfare for certain, but hardly sabotage. Sabotage would be planting incriminating evidence that you “discover” later.

JeffWeimer on March 26, 2011 at 1:36 PM

Typical of the statist, AUTHORITARIAN, collectivist left. If you can’t beat ‘em, silence them.

NNtrancer on March 26, 2011 at 2:19 PM

I don’t really think FOX has anything to worry about, but it’s just the idea of the research, finding names and addresses on the employees from the top on down to the floor sweeper, apparently, and what looks like the possibility of some sort of blackmail to get some to give information they can use against FOX, true or not. That I find a little chilling. Can it come to the point of monitoring websites and digging for info on those who frequent the site when they’ve maybe posted something construed as detrimental to a certain incompetent nincompoop president? Just saying.

TeeDee on March 27, 2011 at 12:53 PM

“Opposition research” against private citizens in a private corporation by any other name is a reputation destruction racket. You think that doesn’t cross a moral line?

publiuspen on March 26, 2011 at 10:00 AM

I agree with publius. I also worry that petty “scandals” divert the media from real issues which already consume too little media time. And then I’m not sure that the people with pure hands are always the right people for a job.

I continue to strongly dissent from the impeachment of Bill Clinton in the 90′s. Maybe if we had spent the time of that impeachment getting out the message of small government we wouldn’t have Obama now. We need to focus on that message if we are to take America back from the socialists.

thuja on March 28, 2011 at 8:47 AM