John on June 24, 2011 at 11:19 am
On Tuesday, former White House Counsel C. Boyden Gray wrote a piece for the Washington Times. His subject was Media Matters for America and the tax exempt status they enjoy:
MMA was originally established as an Internal Revenue Service Section 501(c)(3) organization, that is, an organization that can receive tax-deductible contributions to engage in educational activities. The more precise purpose was to counter alleged media bias and so to “identify occurrences of excessive bias in the American media, educate the public as to their existence, and to work with members of the media to reduce them.”
What MMA actually is doing, however, moves far afield from identifying possible bias to mounting a campaign to undermine a major media outlet and to promote the Democratic Party and progressive causes associated with it. Mr. Brock himself has described this new strategy as “a war on Fox,” an effort “to disrupt [Rupert Murdoch‘s] commercial interests” and look for ways to turn regulators against News Corp.’s media outlets.
Gray goes on to argue that if MMFA has moved from education to advocacy on behalf of one party, then it’s tax exempt status should be revoked:
MMA’s activities should disallow its tax-exempt status in two fundamental ways. First, IRS rulings make clear that attacks on individuals, statement of positions that are unsupported by facts and use of inflammatory language and other distortions will cost an organization its tax-free status. Second, in declaring “guerrilla warfare” on Fox as the “leader” and “mouthpiece” of the Republican Party and in developing a sophisticated Democratic-leaning media training boot camp, MMA has transformed itself into an aggressive advocate for Democratic and progressive causes and thus produced a second deviation from exempt educational activities.
The very next day, Doug Schoen who is a Democratic contributor to Fox news, built upon what Gray had said. Schoen had personally sat down with MMFA head David Brock and confirmed that his focus was not education but political advocacy for one party:
I had breakfast with Media Matters founder David Brock about 6 months ago to talk about his efforts to strengthen the Democratic party– efforts that I fully support and believe are necessary.
Brock was compelling in arguing that he would like to see the Democratic Party develop a different, more inclusive message for the 2012 election, recognizing that the Party in large part, had failed in 2010 because they did not present a positive and affirmative case to the electorate– an argument that I could only agree with.
Brock also made clear that he saw his mission to try to the best of his ability to counteract Republican fundraising efforts, that had frankly exceeded in substance and sophistication, those of the Democrats…
Brock also made it clear to me that his focus was on the party, and providing and creating a level playing field for it and its advocates, rather than positioning himself as exclusively or even primarily as a media critic.
From its inception, MMFA has been a far left political operation. However, so long as they restricted themselves to media criticism they were able to skate by on the public dime. Now that MMFA is training liberal politicos for media appearances and starting a fundraising campaign (also for liberals) any fig leaf of neutrality is gone. The entire organization is as partisan as it could possibly be and should have it’s 501(c)(3) status revoked.