The Media Matters Effect: A Rebuttal

The Media Matters Effect: A Rebuttal

The Media Matters Effect: A Rebuttal

Weigel
Reporting on Politics and Policy.
March 30 2012 11:51 AM

The Media Matters Effect: A Rebuttal

Dylan Byers produces Google search data on Media Matters and its khan, David Brock. The determination: A series of exposes from the Daily Caller, based on leaked memos about internal strategy (siccing private investigators on Fox News personalities, for example) did some real damage.

[C]hances are a lot of people were learning about Brock and Media Matters for the first time in early February, and not in the way Brock and MMFA probably would've liked. ... Media Matters relies on its critics to earn national coverage. The second spike in the Media Matters graph, straddling February and March and registering about a 2.5, is from the MMFA's Sandra Fluke - Rush Limbaugh coverage, which still pales in comparison to the near-4.0 delivered to MMFA by the Daily Caller.
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Isn't this a fundamental misreading of what MMFA wants to do? On February 12-14, The DC ran its series and talked it up on Fox News. Two weeks later, Media Matters -- having made no internal changes at all in response to the stories -- clipped the audio of Rush Limbaugh musing about the relative sluttishness of "the college co-ed Susan Fluke."

Cue: Two weeks of controversy, a Limbaugh apology, a fairly successful campaign to scare Limbaugh's advertisers away. Did Media Matters lose out because it wasn't given credit for this? No! Read the Daily Caller story again. The heart of it was a confession by some anonymous ax-grinder about how Media Matters fed stories to reporters. "The people at Huffington Post were always eager to cooperate," and "Jim Rainey at the LA Times took a lot of our stuff," and "Brian Stelter at the New York Times was helpful," and so on.

You can't give MMFA too much credit for the Limbaugh story. That credit goes to the man with the golden microphone and half his talent tied behind his back. But Media Matters played an early, dogged role in pushing a story that eventually consumed the political media. They weren't supposed to get credit. We know that because The DC reported that they prefer to pass on stories and watch the "MSM" run with them.

All that said, I guess The DC succeeded in tossing up dust in front of the MMFA's Fox Effect book launch. But pressure groups shouldn't be publishing books anyway! Nobody wants to buy those things.

David Weigel is a reporter for the Washington Post.