“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.” [emphasis mine]
Do you think a war on Fox is where it will end? Let’s say that Media Matters succeeds and Fox News goes off the air (that won’t happen – ever – but just for argument’s sake, stay with me). Will Media Matters just pack up and go home? Is Fox News the only outlet that Media Matters covers? Certainly not. They cover Rush Limbaugh incessantly as well as make numerous posts about what happens on Big sites (like this one) and cover a whole array of other conservative outlets. The “war on Fox” is not the end, it’s the beginning.
Frankly, I don’t care that Media Matters declared a war on Fox News. I don’t care that they simply use their site as an outlet to regurgitate talking points from the White House under the guise of “fact checking” conservative media. I DO care that they do this while being considered a tax-exempt charitable organization. Media Matters enjoys a comfy 501(c)(3) status which not only is a vehicle for them not to pay taxes, it gives them a “charitable organization” status and allows others (like Soros) to give large amounts of money while being able to make a deduction on their own taxes.
This war won’t end here. Media Matters is only just beginning to go after the any media outlet that disagrees with their ideology. Media Matters barely “fact checks” intellectual arguments made by conservative media, because they have little interest in arguing the issues. Media Matters goal is to silence their opponents. David Brock, CEO of Media Matters, is quoted above as saying he’s starting a “war”. War indicates victory, victory by wiping out your enemy. We’ve seen them bully advertisers in order to silence their opposition by dehumanizing their opponents.
It’s time to end this madness and win this war. Media Matters charitable status has to go. Many others have echoed this sentiment and I have a few ideas on what you can do:
So What Can You Do?
We go after the problem – Media Matters’ tax-exempt 501(c)(3) status. Again, the problem is not Media Matters’ ideology. The problem isn’t even that they promote their ideology, talking points for the White House, and attack – with intent to silence – the ideology of anyone who disagrees. The problem is that Media Matters does all of this while enjoying the benefits of a 501(c)(3)status! Their work is not charitable, it is inflammatory. Their work is not educating the masses, but rather propagandizing them with “facts” that are either blatant falsehoods or opinions. Other websites do this every day (we’d be happy to provide a list) and they don’t need a 501(c)(3) status to do it. This type of work is not deserving of a tax-exempt status.
Below is a list of activities that the IRS considers merit an investigation of a charitable organization:
When reviewing Media Matters content, keep the above listed guidelines in mind. A definition of each of these activities can be found on the IRS website.
For example, consider the lobbying activities definition. Put this in context of how Media Matters covers certain legislative issues such as the budget, Planned Parenthood defunding, the WI union bills, and other current issues.
Also consider the political activities definition when you look back at how Media Matters covered candidates in the 2010 election cycle, or how they cover current politicians (I’ll give you a hint: Chris Christie).
A large part of the research can also consider how Media Matters falls outside the guidelines of their charter. Rather than informing their readers of inaccurate facts presented by the media, they largely report on opinions.
Where Do You Look?
A great place to start looking is Media Matters blog and research feeds. The important thing is to put this in the context of people, not Media Matters as a whole organization. This is partly how the IRS identifies problems within a charitable organization. On it’s referral form, it specifically asks for an employee name and title. While David Brock is certainly responsible for many of the activities, it is his employees who carry it out. Media Matters employs about 80 people.
Here is a list of about 50 employees, their title, possible twitter handle and profile page on media matters. Imagine if the IRS received a specific referral of activities on half the employees of a charitable organization. It would serve as an effective mechanism to encourage the IRS to investigate Media Matters. Information is not complete on each person. How did I compile this list? By looking at who posted at Media Matters in the last two months and searching for their twitter profiles from there.
This goes against our very nature as conservatives. Our reflex is to focus on issues, not people. However, this is not what the left does. Media Matters will do this to you given the need and opportunity. As a reminder, Media Matters constantly follows specific employees tweets and posts. Look at how they covered our own Larry O’Connor or Fox Business’ Eric Bolling for examples. Also remember that Media Matters did this first. Media Matters made a list of employees at Fox in order to conduct “opposition research” in order to “dig into public public records associated with [Fox employees]”.
It’s time to fight back by using the ground rules that Media Matters set. Tweets during business hours using computers purchased by a tax-exempt entity during tax-exempt paid time are subject to IRS guidelines.
What Do You Do With The Information That You Find?
The IRS labels complaints or communications challenging whether a charitable organization is in non-compliance with the current tax law as referrals. There is a special form provided by the IRS that one must fill out and send in along with any supporting documentation. Compile your information in the way that the IRS requires to receive it:
You can then either send in the form yourself or give the information to us for us to use in compiling our research. There are two approaches to filing a referral: send in a large, comprehensive referral that will require the IRS to see multiple examples in one filing or send in dozens, maybe even hundreds of forms (from different people) causing the IRS to see the widespread non-compliance. We say let’s do both!
If you do send in your own form you will need the below information. (h/t ideapalooza)
Name: Media Matters for America
Street address: 455 Massachusetts Ave N. W., Washington, D. C. 20001
Employer Identifier Number: 47-0928008
Form 13909 and any supporting documentation may be submitted in a variety of ways. They can be sent via:
Mail to IRS EO Classification, Mail Code 4910DAL, 1100 Commerce St., Dallas, TX 75242-1198,
Fax to 214-413-5415, or
Email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
So What Happens After We File A Referral?
From the IRS website:
Acknowledgement and Disclosure Prohibition
All referrals are sent to analysts at the EO Classifications Office in Dallas. After a referral is made, the IRS will send an acknowledgement letter to all non-IRS sources making a referral, unless it was made anonymously. To receive an acknowledgement letter, you must provide a return address. We are unable to send acknowledgement letters through e-mail.
Section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code prohibits the IRS from disclosing whether it has initiated an examination or the results of any examination. Therefore, the IRS cannot communicate with the original source of a referral beyond the acknowledgement letter. [Emphasis mine]
The Review Process
Upon receipt, research is done to confirm the identity of the organization in question and once this is complete, information is entered into a database to help the IRS keep track of the progress of the review.
An experienced EO revenue agent then performs a thorough technical analysis of the allegation made on the referral. The agent uses a “reasonable belief” standard to evaluate the facts and to determine whether EO should take further action. Before taking action, the revenue agent must determine that the facts create a reasonable belief that the allegations may be true when considered fairly and in light of other reliable information.
The reviewing EO agent will decide one of the following:
- The information does not warrant further action. In this case, the agent inputs information, including rationale, into the database and closes the referral.
- The referral relates to activities that should be considered at a future date. The agent documents the database and schedules the appropriate date to re-evaluate the information.
- The referral contains characteristics that require it to be forwarded to a committee of career EO managers and agents. This committee evaluates referrals monthly — more often in some circumstances — and decides whether to proceed with an examination. The committee also applies the “reasonable belief” standard.
- The information warrants an examination of the organization. The agent documents his or her decision and the reasons for it in the database. The information item then becomes part of the examination file.
If this process results in a decision to examine an organization, the Classification Office will forward the case to a field group for assignment to a revenue agent. The revenue agent will contact the organization and schedule an appointment to begin the examination. (For details on the EO examination process, see Fact Sheet 2008-14.)
So there you have it! Bureaucracy at work! After we file our forms, there isn’t a lot we can do but wait. If we want the IRS to take our referrals seriously, it is important to have the information we provide them in the most organized manner possible.
It’s time to fight. Media Matters declared war, we should answer.