Clinton Front: Media Matters
The left's attack dogs are exposed below. Of course everyone in the kookosphere will still feed off their libel like a baby on its mother's breast.
by JONAH GOLDBERG
October 7, 2007 -- In the parable of the million monkeys banging on typewriters for a million years, the reward is supposed to be the complete works of Shakespeare. But have you heard the parable of the million interns? Here, the prize is Rush Limbaugh's head, and Bill O'Reilly's, and Brit Hume's, and pretty much any other prominent conservative or non-leftist who doesn't kowtow to the Democratic Party and its “netroots" army of Lilliputian cannibals. This, in a nutshell, is the vision behind a group most people have never heard of, at least not until this week, Media Matters for America.
Nearly every day, I get e-mail spam from this alleged “media watchdog" group. It's slightly less formal than the usual son of a Nigerian oil minister with erectile dysfunction and a great stock tip giving me a head's-up about a problem with my eBay account. This spam comes from some earnest p.r. flack letting me know that I might be interested in the latest Very Serious Finding by Media Matters for America. When you actually check out the item, it's usually very stupid or silly or, sometimes, slanderous.
For example, on Sept. 25, Media Matters sent out a note announcing “Fox News panelist Mort Kondracke recently made several racist comments regarding the Jena 6.
Here are some examples of racism on Fox News." What were the racist comments? Simply this: Kondracke said in reference to the racial turmoil then brewing in Louisiana, “It looks as though the people of Jena can solve this on their own." It's a wonder Kondracke even bothered to take his Klan hood off while on camera.
You don't hear about most of this stuff because journalists on the receiving end of Media Matter's junk mail have this rare skill, highly prized in the profession: They can read. And so, most of what Media Matters does is ignored except by the echo chamber of the left-wing blogs and sympathetic pundits. But occasionally, either through luck or distortion, Media Matters hits paydirt.
They were the ones who made the initial stink about Don Imus' “nappy-headed hos" gaffe. Imus may have had that coming, but they also recently tried to paint Bill O'Reilly as a racist dunderhead by slanderously distorting his comments about having dinner in Harlem. O'Reilly's point was that the real middle-class black America is decent and normal, unlike the images found in gangsta rap and the like. Media Matters quoted him as saying he was shocked that none of the black people at a Harlem restaurant talked or acted like F-word-abusing thugs.
But what is Media Matters? Well, first of all, it's the brainchild of David Brock. You may recall that Brock was once a right-wing hatchet man, penning a book, “The Real Anita Hill," and some articles in the American Spectator on the Clintons that for a time earned him considerable notoriety on the right and hatred on the left. After the success of the Anita Hill book, Brock was given a contract to write a similar exposé on Hillary Clinton, “The Seduction of Hillary Rodham."
The book was a dud. But it had explosive effects on Brock. In the course of working on it, he came out of the closet and gained a crush on Mrs. Clinton at the same time. Some claimed that he became “pro-Hillary" as an excuse to hide his failure at cracking the cone of silence around Clinton. Others believe that his transformation was less mercenary and more principled. Whatever; wading deep into Brock's psyche requires taller hip boots than are currently available on the market.
For the rest of the 1990s, Brock launched something of a fire sale on his own credibility. In articles and interviews, Brock outed himself as a liar. He confessed to lying in the Anita Hill book, even though the lies he admitted to were peripheral to his exoneration of Justice Clarence Thomas but devastating in what they said about Brock himself; he admitted he'd been a hatchet man and borderline extortionist. In a piece for Esquire - in which he was depicted bound to a tree, nipple exposed - Brock apologized to Bill Clinton and expressed regret over his “Troopergate" stories for the American Spectator. He said they were all true, mind you, but that he shouldn't have written them.
But the problem was already obvious. As Jill Abramson told the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz, “the problem with Brock's credibility" is that “once you admit you've knowingly written false things, how do you know when to believe what he writes?" Yet by the end of the Clinton years and the beginning of the Bush administration, Brock had become a darling of the pro-Clinton media establishment as a supposed truth-teller.
And in 2004, Brock decided to start Media Matters for America ostensibly to keep an eye on the sort of “conservative misinformation" he used to peddle.
But, the truth is that Media Matters is a cog in the larger Vast LeftWing Conspiracy chronicled in the aptly titled book “The Vast LeftWing Conspiracy" by my National Review colleague Byron York. In the 1990s, long before Hillary Clinton railed against a shadowy, vast right-wing conspiracy, the Clintonites were obsessed with conservative success at getting their message out.
In 1995, Mark Fabiani, one of the Clintonites tasked with beating down Clinton scandals in the media, even penned a 331-page taxpayer-funded report ominously titled “The Communication Stream of Conspiracy Commerce," which worked from the presumption that negative stories about the president were illegitimate and foisted on the unwitting public by evildoers of the right.
Such paranoia has gone from being one of the more obscure jokes of the Clinton years to mainstream thought in Democratic circles. Driven mad by the Swift Boat Vets, Fox News, not to mention the humiliating failure of Air America and the continuing success of conservatives like Rush Limbaugh, liberals have convinced themselves they need a conspiracy machinery all of their own to do deliberately what they imagine conservatives have been doing all along.
And that's where Media Matters for America comes in. At a recent YearlyKos convention for left-wing bloggers, Hillary Clinton bragged about how she'd helped Brock create Media Matters - an inconvenient testimonial for a group that swears, unconvincingly, that it's not beholden to Clinton (nearly half the e-mails I get from them read like they were churned out by Clinton's rapid-response team).
Part of the complex of liberal activist groups linked to George Soros and dedicated to the success of Democratic candidates, Media Matters churns out polemic and spin gussied-up as media criticism. The strategy is an upgrade of the Clinton communication attack plan of the 1990s. First: Demonize critics as crazy people, ax-grinders, bigots and shills.
This was the tactic used by Clinton and Co. in the 1990s to try to marginalize critics like Limbaugh and whistleblowers like Travel Office director Billy Dale. Recall how Bill Clinton suggested Limbaugh incited the Oklahoma City bombing or how his cronies immediately claimed Dale was a criminal and Monica Lewinsky a stalker?
Second, use any weapon on hand. And that's where the figurative million interns come in. Like CIA drones listening to shortwave broadcasts in Irkusk, Media Matters monitors everything the right puts out, listening to hundreds of hours of programming and reading lord knows how many words every week.
And, then, working from the assumption that all's fair in war, they score whatever points they can and then browbeat mainstream journalists with their findings.
Because these journalists are overwhelmingly liberal themselves, they sometimes find receptive ears. But nowhere near as receptive as among Democrats themselves. Because Media Matters is more like the opposition- research team of left-wing activists than a media watchdog, Democrats score all sorts of points by taking up its cause.
The press didn't care much about the Limbaugh “phony soldiers" story in which Limbaugh was referring to one anti-war activist who pretended to be a military veteran. Journalists for the most part saw it for what it was: a phony story.
But the Democrats have been interested in demonizing and defanging right-wing critics for years. It's a doctrine of preemption the Democrats can finally endorse. And so Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid doesn't care that Limbaugh - a wildly generous supporter of the military - never criticized American soldiers. What they care about is taking Limbaugh down a peg or two and throwing a bone to their increasingly demoralized anti-war base.
It's shameless, but they think they're justified to do or say anything if it takes down the enemy. Which is why Brock is the perfect man for the job.
Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large for National Review Online
I hope that the right never gets a group like this because it doesn't add anything to political discourse. The people at Media Matters throw as much slime against the wall and hope that some of it sticks. This isn't what radio hosts on the right do and if liberals every took the time to listen to them they would know that. However much we wish them away groups lilke these will continue to thrive because they are cheap and occassionally effective.
The really sad thing is that it takes conservative columnists to expose their lies while MSM reporters will sporadically run with their lies and half-truths. Of course the MSM will never do an expose on the group. BigT