Thursday, April 26, 2007
Right Wing Continues to Attack Media Matters following Rovian Script: Attack the messenger, not the message.
Media Matters for America
Right Embarks on Smear Campaign Against Media Matters; Baseless Attacks Make the Case for Group's Mission
Washington, DC - In recent days, Media Matters for America has become the target of an unprecedented stream of attacks from right-wing media and political figures intent on silencing the media watchdog's criticism. This recent barrage of false, baseless, and sometimes comical attacks, complete with flowcharts, from the likes of Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Tom DeLay, Neal Boortz, Matt Drudge, and Michael Savage, just to name a few, ironically underscores the need for an organization like Media Matters to monitor, analyze, and correct conservative misinformation in the media.
"The right appears to be in full-blown meltdown over the work we do at Media Matters for America," said Eric Burns, a senior spokesman for Media Matters. "Given the bizarre anger that Media Matters inspires from the far right, it's clear we're making an impact."
Bill O'Reilly on the Attack
On April 23, O'Reilly devoted an entire segment on Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor to what he sees as a devious conspiracy of progressive donors and nonprofit groups. Referring to Media Matters as "the vile propaganda outfit, which specializes in distorting comments made by politicians, pundits, and media people," O'Reilly -- while failing to identify a single instance when Media Matters has distorted his words or those of others -- purported to depict billionaire philanthropist George Soros as funding Media Matters, which "feeds its propaganda to some mainstream media people." As Media Matters has previously indicated, Soros has never given money to Media Matters, either directly or through another organization.
O'Reilly's comments are just the latest in what has become a veritable who's who of right-wing media figures attacking Media Matters.
"O'Reilly, Limbaugh, Drudge, and now even Tom DeLay are attempting to discredit Media Matters with conspiracy theories and name-calling," Burns continued. "It is worth noting that nowhere in these often contradictory and provably false attacks do our friends on the right actually question the accuracy of the research we release to the public every day."
"Their attacks against an organization that openly and transparently promotes accountability in the media is far more reflective of their agenda than anything involving Media Matters," Burns said. "They're clearly afraid of having their deceptions corrected and afraid of being held accountable. If they had their way, Media Matters would just disappear. That isn't going to happen."
Other Recent Attacks from the Right
- On the same day as O'Reilly's attack, TOM DeLAY wrote in The Politico, "George Soros, upset with the slight inroads conservatives have made recently, has funded an organization called Media Matters for America, led by liberal muckraker David Brock. Brock's job is to serve as a constant rapid responder to any media report that fails to follow Soros' Shadow Party agenda. Brock is there to crack the whip any time a 'one of us' liberal reporter steps out of line and to make sure reporters are instructed on how to take down any conservative leader or idea that starts gaining traction with the American people."
- "I'll tell you who's out there doing all this monitoring, and then reporting things out of context, and that's our old buddies at Media Matters for America," said RUSH LIMBAUGH on April 16. "I'm not going to let the Democrat Party or the left or some lackey watchdog group or a couple of race hustlers dictate my speech." Limbaugh added, "This is Stalinist, folks. This is an attack on certain kinds of information that is protected by a template which says, 'All conservative information is misinformation.' "
- On April 13, Internet gossip MATT DRUDGE linked to a Wall Street Journal article that attributed Don Imus' firing from CBS Radio and MSNBC to Media Matters' first having highlighted his comments. Drudge claimed that Media Matters is funded by Soros, claiming in his post "Soros Operation Takes Credit for Imus Take-Down..." After Media Matters indicated that Soros had never given money to the organization, the link vanished from Drudge's website.
- On the April 18 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, NEAL BOORTZ said, "When the history of this event [the Virginia Tech shootings] is written ... we will have 25 students standing meekly waiting for this guy to execute them" and then aired an instrumental version of the Pat Benatar song, "Hit Me With Your Best Shot." When his comments appeared in The New York Times, Boortz said on April 20, "[S]omebody out there feeds this, because I know damn well [Times reporter] Jacques Steinberg wasn't listening to The Neal Boortz Show. ... So my guess is Media Morons, I mean Media Matters. My guess is it was them. Because they specialize in disinformation."
- On the April 13 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, MICHAEL SAVAGE said of Media Matters, "They're people who attack me. It's run by a homosexual activist who hates anybody in the media who does not kowtow to the homosexual agenda." Referring to Media Matters CEO and President David Brock, Savage added: "The man who runs it is, in my opinion, a straight-out maniac. He would belong much more happily in the ex-Soviet Union."
- San Francisco radio host and frequent cable news guest MELANIE MORGAN compared Media Matters to the Virginia Tech killer in an April 20 column: "Like that mentally unbalanced and angry gunman at Virginia Tech, they'll methodically march through the domiciles of the conservative movement, targeting the movement's leaders for career elimination."
More from Media Matters for America
Limbaugh claimed Media Matters "fell for" his "liberal" gunman "joke" "hook, line, and sinker"
On the April 23 broadcast of his radio show, Limbaugh claimed, "I was making a joke," when he said on his April 19 broadcast that Virginia Tech gunman Cho Seung-Hui "had to be a liberal," and "it's a liberal that committed this act," before adding on April 23, "I do believe that it was liberalism that got a hold of this guy and made him hate things, professors and this sort of thing." Limbaugh also lashed out at Media Matters, claiming that he had made the comments about Cho "as a means of illustrating on this show how the words of conservative talk show hosts are twisted and taken out of context," before adding, "And sure enough, Media Matters fell for it hook, line, and sinker. They had it up all over the place."
Limbaugh falsely accused Media Matters of not providing context for his "Obama Osama" comment
On April 20, Limbaugh asserted that Media Matters "takes everything that we say here out of context." The example Limbaugh provided was an incident on his July 11, 2005, broadcast in which he repeatedly referred to Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) as "Obama Osama" and "Osama Obama." Limbaugh argued that he was just engaging in a "parody because Senator [Edward M.] Kennedy [D-MA] at the National Press Club was asked about Obama and said, "Well, we need to ask Osama about that." In fact, as Media Matters documented at the time, while Limbaugh mentioned Kennedy's gaffe during the broadcast, he also repeatedly referred to Obama as "Osama Obama" or "Obama Osama" in criticizing Obama and Democrats in general.
On Irish TV, O'Reilly called Media Matters "an assassination website" that takes him "out of context"
On April 13, O'Reilly appeared on RTÉ One's The Late Late Show, a talk show based in Dublin, Ireland. During the interview, host Pat Kenny asked O'Reilly about his previous references to the poor as "irresponsible and lazy" and the Iraqi people as "prehistoric." When Kenny said that he found both remarks on Media Matters' website, O'Reilly responded by attacking Media Matters as "an assassination website" and a "far-left propaganda thing." O'Reilly further claimed that he didn't "remember saying" either of the statements pointed out by Kenny and added that Media Matters takes him "out of context." However, Media Matters provided documentation of O'Reilly referring to the poor as "irresponsible and lazy" and the Iraqi people as "prehistoric."
Schlussel responds to Media Matters, Olbermann: Vegans, transsexuals, and "fake Holocaust survivors," oh my
In an April 18 weblog entry, right-wing pundit Debbie Schlussel responded to a Media Matters item that highlighted her "speculat[ion]" in an April 16 post (since removed) that Cho Seung-Hui might have been a "Paki" Muslim and part of "a coordinated terrorist attack." As Media Matters pointed out, "Paki" is a disparaging term for a person of Pakistani descent. Schlussel attacked Media Matters, writing: "Media Matters bragged to the Wall Street Journal that it was responsible for taking down Don Imus. I suppose now that Don Imus is gone, they've assigned the vegan lesbian transsexual 'interspecies erotica' devotee they had monitoring the Imus show to monitor my site." She also attacked "nutty, angry" MSNBC host Keith Olbermann, who awarded Schlussel third place in his April 17 "Worst Person in the World" segment for her "Paki" statement. In addition, Schlussel falsely claimed that billionaire philanthropist George Soros "is the funder of Media Matters."
Savage called Media Matters "a gay smear sheet," CEO David Brock "a psychopath"
On April 11, Savage referred to Media Matters as "a gay smear sheet" and called David Brock "a psychopath in my opinion, who hates me." Savage read from an April 14, 2006, Media Matters item, which noted that Savage called the woman who alleged she was raped by Duke University lacrosse team members a "Durham dirtbag" and a "dirty, verminous black stripper," and that he also said, "This is the radical, feminist, lesbian agenda being acted out on our campuses in a witch-hunt manner against these white boys, very much like the socialist communist agenda being acted out on the American stage by the extras called the illegal aliens." After reading his previous comments, Savage stated: "That's me. I am proud to tell you I agree with every word that I said a year ago." Savage claimed that Media Matters "ought to apologize to me" -- presumably because of the April 11 decision to drop the sexual assault charges in the Duke case.