Why Is Media Matters a 501(c)(3)?

Media Matters enjoys a comfy tax exempt status under the guise of this mission statement:

Media Matters for America is a Web-based, not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media. [emphasis mine]

Let’s look at how MMFA carried out it’s charter in the past week by “comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media”.

In this post Media Matters analyzes the accuracy of Fox and Friends criticizing President Obama’s failure to start the “job machine.” Curiously, Media Matters never defines “job machine” and neither does anyone on Fox. It’s just a subjective term that Media Matters apparently considers “misinformation.” The realization that tax-free organizational employees spent time “researching” and crafting a response to the “job machine” line is so absurd it’s enough to make any sane person question what service Media Matters is actually providing to the American people. But what’s interesting is how Media Matters “fact-checks” Fox and Friends.

From the offending segment:

DOOCY: How can you say [the trend of the economy is] overall very positive? I just don’t get that. This past week, a new report came that out for the chroniclely [sic] unemployed, it now takes 40 weeks to find a new job.


DOOCY: That is the longest it has ever taken in the history of the survey, and that just shows you how many people out there are suffering. They want jobs! But right now, in this economy, nothing that this administration has done has fired up the job machine, and people are angry.

So it’s clear that Doocy’s argument that the “job machine” not being fired up is the recent release of dismal unemployment numbers. Media Matters goes on to cite several sources that claim that the 2009 Recovery Act helped lower unemployment. The only problem is several of those sources are from 2010 and do not take into account today’s job numbers, which is exactly what Fox and Friends was referencing. Media Matters did link to a recent blog by the CBO.

Again, Media Matters is taking subjective headlines made by a news outlet and reporting them as factually inaccurate. While it is certainly reasonable to discuss whether or not a subjective claim is accurate, that is not what MMFA lists as their charter in their “about” section of their site and arguing opinion doesn’t require tax-exemption. In other words, the Washington Times publishes a headline that calls John Bryson a “radical” and the tax-dodging weasels at Media Matters write a post which in reality can only say “no he’s not.” It’s a difference of opinion, not of fact. Media Matters links to two posts, one by the New York Times and one by Charity Navigator, to support their “nu-uh!” response. The New York Times reports that Bryson was once a CEO of an energy company, that the President of the U. S. Chamber of Commerce likes him, and that Bryson sits on boards of several familiar companies. How any of this adds up to “not a radical” is anyone’s guess. If I remember correctly, Bill Ayers sat on a couple of boards, is liked by famous people, and is considered a “professor” at a University.

Media Matters found this Fox and Friends segment full of “conservative misinformation” that needed to be comprehensively monitored, analyzed and corrected:

DOOCY: So there he is, Michelle, announcing a job training program to create jobs, retrain people. Isn’t that what the stimulus was supposed to do? We were going to create all these job, people were going to work for years. That didn’t pan out. Now this?

MALKIN: Yes, the same old tired, trite response to economic crisis, which is to grow government even more and grow the usual federal jobs training boondoggle. Since the ’70s, these things have turned out to be nothing but make-work jobs that redistribute unemployment, and if you actually scrutinize the way that the stimulus job training programs have worked over the last couple of years, what you’ll see is people who get trained for jobs that don’t exist. Heck of a job, Obama.

DOOCY: No kidding. And think of how much we saw some of those facts in the last year or so, some of those jobs, each one, cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to create and to work for a little while, but they don’t exist anymore.

MALKIN: Right. And in some cases, and I’ve scrutinized some of these job training programs over the last couple of years, what you have is most — what he’s trying to do is pander to the youth demographic. But the summer youth job training programs in one case, I believe it was philadelphia, were used to pay young people to lobby for more job training money!

Media Matters responds to this “misinformation” by citing a Wall Street Journal article that claims that manufacturing companies are needing more skilled workers to hire. The problem is, no one in this Fox and Friends segment argued that the manufacturing industry didn’t need more skilled workers, only that the President’s “job training” hasn’t been training people for jobs that are hirable or that last for very long. Media Matters links to several other publications that document manufacturers lamenting the lack of skilled workers. While that is an interesting talking point that the President can use to promote another “job training” stimulus type package, it isn’t addressing or correcting any supposed “conservative misinformation” in this Fox and Friends segment. It looks like that the employees of the tax-exempt organization Media Matters here just wanted to deliver talking points to help the President. Daily Kos and MSNBC do that every day, they don’t need a 501(c)(3) and Media Matters doesn’t either.

The first question I have is how is this “conservative media misinformation?” Calling people dehumanizing names isn’t “misinformation” it’s just name-calling. Name calling may require a response, but it doesn’t require research from tax-exempt organizational employees. Also, the offending names that Leo Banks used: Invasions, invadors, illegals, and deports (in reference to people who have been deported). The only bit of misinformation that Media Matters can find has to do with what Banks had written about rising border violence. While Media Matters cites several publications that claim border violence has “flat-lined” or “fallen”, that is certainly a disputed statistic which Media Matters fails to mention.

Beck Promises To Broadcast Tour Of Auschwitz To Paid GBTV Subscribers. Peddling subscriptions to his new GBTV media service, Glenn Beck promoted content that would be exclusive to paid subscribers, including his upcoming tour of Auschwitz:

Media Matters slams Beck as “anti-Semitic” by citing comments made by the Anti-Defamation League as well as other groups. The problem is that the ADL seems unable to make up it’s mind on the whole “Beck is anti-Semitic” thing. They first praised Beck as a friend of Israel, then weeks later condemned Beck as anti-Semitic. After Beck called them out on their hypocrisy, the ADL spokesman said that he was confident that Beck is a “strong supporter” of Israel and Jewish people. Somehow, Media Matters’ senior fellows missed all of that in their “research”. In this post, Media Matters used their 501(c)(3) employees not to correct any misinformation, but to whine about Beck taking a live tour of Auschwitz in which people can pay to watch and make an effort to smear him as anti-Semitic.

Debate on whether this type of commentary is appropriate is one that should be welcomed. However, this is not “conservative misinformation”. What is Media Matters trying to infer here? That the White House isn’t a “hizzouse”? Media Matters even acknowledges that the guests that Bolling was referring to have troubling records on human rights (though, they do defend Common and his cop-killing lyrics). Tommy Christopher over at Mediate had a similar distaste for Bolling’s language and he didn’t need a 501(c)(3) status to write about it. Bolling has since offered a brief apology. Media Matters has yet to update their post.

The recently released emails from the government of Alaska reveal a September 2008 email exchange between then-Governor Sarah Palin and her director of external communications in the governor’s office, Rosanne Hughes. In the email, Palin praised the work of her gubernatorial communications director/press secretary, William McCalister, on Fox News Channel. Hughes told Palin, “We all have had FOX News on nonstop.”

And the conservative misinformation being propagated by the U. S. media is … ? So, Palin’s communication staff reveals that they’ve been constantly watching the network that appeals to Palin’s electoral base: SHOCK! OUTRAGE! I highly encourage you to click through and read the benign emails. If the “we’ve had FOX News on nonstop” merited a headline, the “We’re praying for you” line must have given Oliver Willis a fainting spell.

Remember, the people who are writing these posts work for a tax-exempt organization. As you can imagine, this is not a comprehensive list of all the posts for the past week at Media Matters, these are just a few noteworthy tax-exempt wastes of time that I found with a quick glance over their front page. While reading through Media Matters smears and dribble is tedious, it’s time we start reading their posts in the context of asking this question: Does this post merit a 501(c)(3) status?

Here is a list of recent organizations that have had their 501(c)(3) status revoked by the IRS. It’s time that Media Matters joins this select group.


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