Media Matters: Hillary’s Lap Dogs
FrontPageMagazine.com, 7/13/2007 (Excerpt)
"When Don Imus was fired in the wake of his April 4th “nappy-headed ho’s” remarks about the Rutgers University women’s basketball team, a great deal of attention was focused, appropriately, on the influence of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, each of whom expressed outrage over the broadcaster’s racial insensitivity and demanded that he be fired. The real guiding hand over Imus’ downfall, however, belonged neither to Sharpton nor Jackson, but to Hillary Rodham Clinton. This is not widely understood, because Mrs. Clinton’s pristine fingerprints were kept off her victim by the intercession of a velvet glove called Media Matters for America, the organization responsible for setting in motion the chain of events that eventually brought down Imus. The toppling of Imus was only a prelude to bigger things for Media Matters, which, because of its strong ties to Mrs. Clinton, is now aiming—just in time for the 2008 presidential election—to derail the careers of a select group of influential broadcasters who, like Imus, have been publicly critical of New York’s junior Senator.
Media Matters had been building a dossier on Imus for some time, lying in wait for an opportune moment to pounce on him. At 6:14 a.m. on April 4th, Imus gave the organization that opportunity when he made his ill-fated remarks, which were heard by a 26-year-old Washington, DC-based researcher named Ryan Chiachiere, who Media Matters had assigned to monitor Imus’ program on a daily basis. Chiachiere promptly posted a 775-word blog along with a video clip of the offending comments on the Media Matters website; in addition, a news release was sent to hundreds of reporters nationwide. Imus’ subsequent apology was casually dismissed by the self-righteous Sharpton and Jackson, and the broadcaster’s fate was sealed for certain when his program’s major sponsors began to pull their ads from the show, fearful that they would be subjected—by Media Matters and the likes of Sharpton and Jackson—to a withering campaign of negative publicity as sponsors of a “racist” program.
Established in May 2004, Media Matters identifies itself as “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”—particularly information “that forwards the conservative agenda.” The organization was founded by the conservative-turned-leftist journalist David Brock, who says he created Media Matters “to combat” what he characterizes as the largely successful effort of “the right wing in this country” to “mov[e] the media itself to the right” and to “mov[e] American politics to the right.” Along the same lines, Media Matters’ Managing Director Jamison Foser wrote in May 2006: “Time after time, the news media have covered progressives and conservatives in wildly different ways—and, time after time, they do so to the benefit of conservatives.”
Obviously, Media Matters makes no secret of its animus for political conservatives and its desire to publicly discredit them. That being said, it is difficult, at first blush, to see why such an organization should have wished to drive Don Imus, of all people, from the airwaves. After all, no one could possibly have mistaken Imus for a conservative. His liberal-left views were well known, and he had a well-established reputation for deriding his conservative radio and television counterparts—calling Rush Limbaugh “a fat, pill-popping loser” and “an undisciplined slob,” and calling Tucker Carlson “a bowtie-wearing pussy,” to cite just two examples. On another occasion he called a Jewish reporter a “boner-nosed, beanie-wearing Jewboy.” Not even the mean-spirited crudeness of comments like these—a crudeness that was standard operating procedure for Imus and his irreverent brand of humor—had ever previously jeopardized his career. What, then, made the “nappy-headed ho’s” case different?
To answer this, we must understand that the Rutgers basketball players were merely incidental to a larger, orchestrated campaign by Media Matters to destroy Imus. The athletes just happened to be, from Media Matters’ perspective, “in the right place at the right time,” as the saying goes. As such, they furnished Media Matters with a convenient pretext for striking hard at Imus.
To truly understand Media Matters’ motives, we must look at the organization’s special relationship with Hillary Clinton, who has deeply despised Don Imus for more than a decade. Hillary’s contempt for the broadcaster dates back to March 21, 1996, when Imus made a number of insulting, disparaging remarks about Mrs. Clinton and her husband, who was then U.S. President, at the Radio and TV Correspondents Association dinner in Washington, DC.
More recently, Imus had been particularly critical of Mrs. Clinton and her presidential candidacy. According to Media Matters, the broadcaster had “repeatedly and unapologetically” referred to the Senator as “Satan,” Bill Clinton’s “fat ugly wife,” a “buck-toothed witch,” “the personification of evil,” and an individual who was “worse than” Osama bin Laden. Not surprisingly, Imus steadfastly refused to invite Mrs. Clinton to be a guest on his program. (It is noteworthy that in the wake of the “nappy-headed ho’s” incident, Mrs. Clinton disingenuously portrayed the fact that she had never appeared on Imus’ show as the result of a unilateral, righteous choice she had personally made: “I’ve never wanted to go on his show and I certainly don't ever intend to go on his show, and I felt that way before his latest outrageous, hateful, hurtful comments,” said Clinton.)
So far, then, we know for certain that Hillary Clinton loathes Don Imus, and that Media Matters was actively engaged in trying to topple the broadcaster’s career, as evidenced by the assignment of Mr. Chiachiere to monitor every minute of Imus’ program. But how do we know there is a connection between Hillary’s antipathy for Imus and the deadly blow that Media Matters dealt to his radio program?
We know because Media Matters’ links to Hillary are at once intimate and multitudinous, and the organization’s devotion to her is nothing short of profound. In 1996 (eight years before Media Matters’ creation), the then-conservative David Brock was commissioned (with a $1 million advance) by the Simon & Schuster subsidiary Free Press to write a hard-hitting expose of Hillary. But the book, completed in 1997, turned out to be nothing more than a tepid, distinctly sympathetic account of the former First Lady’s life. That same year (1997), Brock publicly announced his political epiphany, unequivocally recanting his previous negative writings about the Clintons and embracing the liberal/Left cause. During this period, Brock developed a close relationship with Neel Lattimore, Senator Clinton’s openly gay press secretary and close confidante. Brock would eventually hire Lattimore as a director of “special projects” for Media Matters.
Brock’s affinity for Mrs. Clinton grew over time, and vice versa. According to Glenn Thrush of Newsday, Hillary “advised Brock on creating” Media Matters in 2004, “encouraging the creation of a liberal equivalent of the Media Research Center, a conservative group that has aggravated Democrats for decades.” Thrush reports that Hillary still “chats with [Brock] occasionally and thinks he provides a valuable service . . .” “For her part,” Thrush adds, “Clinton’s extended family of contributors, consultants and friends has played a pivotal role in helping Media Matters grow from a $3.5 million start-up in 2004 to its current $8.5 million budget.”