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What Matters and the Media Research Center love to attack David Brock, though they have yet to prove him wrong. Plus: They go after Air America, too.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 5/27/2004

The folks at and the Media Research Center can't quite get over David Brock.

Brock, of course, is the former conservative pit bull-turned-liberal pit bull who now runs Media Matters for America, a media watchdog group. (And we're not giving Brock all this attention just because he mentioned ConWebWatch in his new book.) So when Brock resurfaced to promote Media Matters and his new book, MRC employees were ready to take aim.

A May 14 Fact-O-Rama at CNS was quick to state that "Media Matters employees have worked for groups like the National Organization for Women, Greenpeace and the Democrat presidential campaigns of Sen. John Edwards and retired Gen. Wesley Clark."

Another May 14 CNS story looks at Media Matters' ad criticizing Rush Limbaugh for glibly dismissing the seriousness of allegations that U.S. troops abused Iraqi prisoners: "I'm talking about people having a good time. These people -- you ever heard of emotional release? You ever heard of needing to blow some steam off?"

The story, done in typical CNS manner by managing editor David Thibault, waits until paragraph 12 to discuss Brock's organizations, spending most of the previous 11 graphs critiquing the ad -- " ... that sentence is spliced together with another Limbaugh comment about the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse and the difference in Limbaugh's inflection is obvious to the listener" -- and giving five of those paragraphs over to Mark Levin, "director of the Landmark Legal Foundation and a supporter of Limbaugh." Thibault comes off as miffed that Brock wouldn't talk to him personally, but he makes sure to quote Levin as saying that Brock is "a confessed liar. He has discredited his own past work."

Thibault also rehashes the left-wing credentials of Media Matters employees, so this seems to be an issue with him. Fortunately CNS makes it easy to put the shoe on the other foot, so let's wander over to the staff bios page and see what we find, shall we?

First, there's Thibault himself. His resume includes definite conservative bona fides, such as "senior producer for GOP-TV's Rising Tide, the televised weekly news magazine broadcast by the Republican National Committee" as well as press secretary for U.S. Rep. Judd Gregg -- who, you will not be surprised to learn, is a Republican.

Then there's senior staff writer Marc Morano, who was "a reporter and producer for the Rush Limbaugh Television Show from 1992 to 1996." And cartoonist Paul Nowak is described as having "a great love of country and an abiding allergy to liberalism, resulting in a sarcastic streak of which he is quite proud. Paul finds liberals and leftists hilarious when acting perfectly seriously, so there is no shortage of material for his exclusive cartoons."

Seems like someone needs to check their own house of bias before being overly concerned about the alleged biases of others.

Speaking of biased CNS employees, whatever happened to editor Scott Hogenson, who slipped away so quietly late last year that even we didn't notice? Turns out he has a new gig: radio services director for the Republican National Committee. (A rather well-paying gig, we might add.) In other words, if you've got a radio talk show and need a Republican shill to yammer away for a while, he's your go-to guy.

Over at the MRC side of things, Brent Baker groused in a May 19 CyberAlert that "Every time David Brock writes a book bashing conservatives, NBC’s Today gives him a platform to promote it" (even though Brock has written all of two books on the subject), that Brock "impugned conservatives in general, and Sean Hannity in particular," and that interview Matt Lauer "did not once question any of Brock’s claims as he prompted him to elucidate on how wealthy conservatives who directed the anti-Clinton conspiracy allowed him to smear people."

The MRC, if you'll recall, tried to do its own hatchet job on Brock when his 2002 book "Blinded By the Right" came out. Baker and Rich Noyes complained he got the red-carpet treatment from "Today" when the book was "far from a best-seller," smeared him as a liar and dissembler when Baker's own article demonstrates he was telling the truth, and Brent Bozell attacked Brock as " pathetic little man" who wrote a " sloppy, bitter, vengeful little book."

Yet for all of the MRC's fulminations -- "What Brock is doing now just begs for media scrutiny," Bozell wrote in 2002 -- no error of substance was ever found in "Blinded By the Right," despite Baker's statement in another Brock attack piece in the Richard Mellon Scaife-owned Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that "Everyone who was quoted in it says Brock was wrong...." To this day, Baker has not offered any evidence to back up this statement, nor has any member of his alleged "everyone" crowd stepped forward to say that he/she was misquoted.

Baker ends by dismissing Media Matters as having "rants against the conservative views of conservatives (sic) commentators, but zilch about actual news coverage." This in a critique of an appearance on a fluffy morning show not exactly known for its news coverage, and despite the fact that a 2003 Gallup poll showed that 22 percent of people get their news from radio talk shows.

CNS follows that up with a May 27 story on Media Matters' attempt to get American Forces Radio and Television Services (formerly known as Armed Forces Radio) to stop airing Rush Limbaugh's show because of his remarks on the Iraqi prison abuse scandal. While writer Melanie Hunter doesn't explicitly quote anyone attacking Brock here, she does quote liberally from Limbaugh in an attempt to mitigate Limbaugh's remarks under the guise of putting them in contexts. She also writes that the remarks "have become a big deal in liberal 'get Limbaugh" circles."

Hunter, however, fails to note one little fact about balance, something you'd think CNS would be sensitive to by now. Salon notes that Limbaugh's show is "the only long-form political talk show broadcast daily to U.S. troops." Or, as Al Franken puts it, "They're broadcasting a very, very partisan guy -- [with] nobody from the other side -- and they're using taxpayer money to do it."

* * *

Another enemy the MRC folks can't quite get over is Air America, and it offers a one-two attack on the fledgling liberal talk-radio network.

A May 20 MRC Media Reality Check by Tim Graham alleges that the network is "a quick bust" that isn't getting near the "barrels of ink and hours of breathless TV promotion" that Air America got on its launch and that "What the national media promoted as the roar of a new liberal lion turned out to be the quiet whimper of a sickly kitten."

A story by Melanie Hunter the next day says pretty much the same thing; the only person Hunter talked to for it was Graham (how hard could that have been?), who gets to complain further that the "media elite" have "not focused on the meanness of this new network's lineup." There's no evidence in the story that Hunter even attempted to get a quote from anyone at Air America.

Despite the wishful thinking of Hunter and Graham, Air America doesn't isn't exactly failing. Hunter herself reported in her story that the network was planning to add 15 stations. And blogger Atrios is reporting that Al Franken's Air America show was getting better ratings than Rush Limbaugh in New York City, confirmed by an article in the Chicago Tribune, which details Air America's success in attracting the highly coveted 25-54 age demographic.

Graham and Hunter have a peculiar idea of failure. If the mainstream media should be made to report on Air America's alleged stumbles, shouldn't CNS report on its successes?

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