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Sunday, May 3, 2009
Vadum Swings, Misses Again in Attack on Media Matters
Topic: Capital Research Center

We finally got around to reading Matthew Vadum's attack on Media Matters (disclosure: our employer) in the current issue of Townhall magazine. Vadum, of the right-wing Capital Research Center, has a history of putting his hatred of all things non-conservative ahead of the facts in his so-called research, so there was sure to be more whoppers this time around. Let's see what he botches, shall we?

-- Vadum repeats his favorite falsehood, that George Soros funds Media Matters. This time around, he seems to concede that he knows he's lying by fudging numbers. He states that Media Matters "has received $7 million under the auspices of the Democracy Alliance, a Soros-led consortium of wealthy liberals that matches donors to causes it believes will make a lasting contribution to the success of the so-called progressive movement. The $7 million donation may have come from Soros himself, though Media Matters denies it." In fact, the Democracy Alliance makes no donations in its name; it is, as the Washington Post describes it, "an accreditation agency for political advocacy groups." Donors make contributions in their own names based on Democracy Alliance recommendations.

This is just another way of falsely suggesting that Soros directly donates to Media Matters when Vadum knows very well he hasn't.

-- Vadum states that "in-house columnist" Eric Alterman "writes the 'Altercation' blog that appears on the Media Matters website." In fact, Alterman last wrote Altercation for Media Matters in December; it now appears at The Nation's webiste.

-- Vadum complains that Media Matters "relies heavily on personal attacks rather than substantive or-fact-based arguments" -- then smears Media Matters CEO David Brock as "deeply narcissistic" and Morris Dees, head of the Southern Poverty Law Center, as a "race-baiting ambulance chaser."

-- Vadum falsely defends those he deems to have been unfairly attacked by Media Matters. He asserted that Media Matters "suggested Glenn Beck was deadly serious when he asked a guest whether then-Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama was the biblical Anti-Christ. In reality, Beck was attempting to dispel this notion." In fact, as the Media Matters item in question clearly illustrates, Media Matters did not criticize Beck for asking his guest, Rev. John Hagee, whether Obama was the Antichrist; it criticized him for asking Hagee that question instead of discussing numerous controversial statements Hagee -- who had just endorsed Obama's rival, John McCain -- had made.

Vadum also claimed that Media Matters "claimed to be able to read the mind of White House press secretary Robert Gibbs" when it pointed out that Gibbs was not issuing a threat to CNBC's Rick Santelli over Santelli's rant against mortgage bailouts. Vadum quotes only Gibbs' statement that "I'm not entirely sure where Mr. Santelli lives or in what house he lives," suggesting the statement was "ambiguous," uncritically repeated G. Gordon Liddy's asserting that Gibbs was making a "veiled threat," and insisted that "failed to disclose how exactly it knew what Gibbs was thinking." But Vadum took Gibbs out of context and does not reproduce the entirety of Gibb's statement:

I'm not entirely sure where Mr. Santelli lives or in what house he lives, but the American people are struggling every day to meet their mortgage, stay in their job, pay their bills, to send their kids to school, and to hope that they don't get sick or that somebody they care for gets sick and sends them into bankruptcy. I think we left a few months ago the adage that if it was good for a derivatives trader that it was good for Main Street. I think the verdict is in on that.

From the full context, it is obvious that Gibbs was not "ambiguous" and was not threatening Santelli. It's obvious how Media Matters came to its conclusion: not by reading minds but by reading Gibbs' entire statement.

-- Further, Vadum faslely attacked Media Matters' Jamison Foser for pointing out that government spending "does more to stimulate the economy than anything else you can think of"; Vadum snarked, "This no doubt would be news to economists." Vadum ignores the fact that Foser cited economist Mark Zandi -- adviser to John McCain's presidential campaign -- to support his claim. Vadum provides no contradictory evidence.

If Vadum can't get basic facts correct, there's no reason to take his so-called research seriously.

Posted by Terry K. at 11:06 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, May 4, 2009 2:40 PM EDT

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