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The Desperation of Media Matters

Posted By Benjamin Shapiro On July 21, 2011 @ 12:40 am In Daily Mailer,FrontPage | 40 Comments

According to its website, Media Matters for America, the George Soros-funded left wing hit squad, is a “progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media.”  The very premise is somewhat laughable – there is far more liberal misinformation in the U.S. media than conservative misinformation.  But let’s take their “about us” at face value and assume that yes, indeed, their sole goal is to fight conservative propaganda.

There’s only one problem.

They violate their 501(c)3 charitable exemption on a daily basis.

According to the Internal Revenue Service, any 501(c)3 charitable organization “may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities.”  The IRS doesn’t leave the prohibition at that.  Such organizations are “absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.”  This includes “public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office.”  Just to ensure that this is perfectly clear, the IRS adds, “voter education … with evidence of bias that … have the effect of favoring a candidate or group of candidates, will constitute prohibited participation or intervention.”

The IRS also gives examples of such prohibited activity.  One of those examples is that of an organizational leader who, at an organizational event, proclaims support for a particular political position during an election cycle.  “You have the power” to accomplish X, the leader says.  “Use that power when you go to the polls and cast your vote in the election for your state senator.”  This would violate the organization’s 501(c)3 exemption.

This is what Media Matters does on a regular basis.  They constantly endorse political positions and back candidates – particularly President Obama.  Media Matters constantly endorses political positions, which is fine.  Unfortunately, they also endorse candidates … and one candidate especially.

Eric Boehlert, senior fellow at Media Matters, spends his life on Twitter obsessing over President Obama’s poll numbers, constantly highlighting the polls that show him as relatively popular and downplaying the ones that show him crumpling like a piñata at a keg party.  This week, for example, a major poll was released showing that a generic Republican would beat Obama by 8 points if the election were held today.  What did Boehlert focus on?  “His approval rating is pretty unchanged over the last 700 days,” he tweeted on July 14.  Two hours before that tweet, Boehlert spouted, “so there’s that …. Poll: Obama Tops GOP On Economy, Debt.”  A few minutes before that: “Fox News heads implode … Voters still blame Bush 4 country’s economic woes, Obama approval holds steady …”

Aside from trumpeting Obama’s polling data like a White House press secretary, Boehlert’s organization routinely defends Obama personally from all criticism, minor or major.  The same day as Boehlert’s defensive tweetfest over Obama’s polling numbers, Media Matters featured posts trumpeting the positive effects of the Obama stimulus package; bashing Fox News for quoting a CBS poll that found that 69 percent of Americans thought the debt ceiling should not be raised; and praising Obama for walking out on “default crisis talks.”

Now, Media Matters is clever.  Their defense for this shameless Obama-promotion is that they aren’t really defending Obama – rather, they’re attacking “media disinformation.”  But in none of the above three posts or in any of Boehlert’s tweets were they actually attacking media disinformation.  There was no disinformation.  Poll numbers are poll numbers; CBS’ poll is CBS’ poll; Republicans who attacked Obama for walking out on the debt ceiling talks did so, and there is no debate about it.

Ironically enough, the easiest way to tell whether Media Matters should be a 501(c)3 organization is by looking at its chief opponents: Fox News, Andrew Breitbart, Hot Air.  None of these are 501(c)3 organizations.  They are all heavily political organizations who make no bones about it.  Media Matters belongs in the same taxable category.  But don’t look for the Obama IRS – which grows leaps and bounds thanks to this Administration — to do anything about it.


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