For months, Fox News has been pushing the idea that the IRS should revoke Media Matters' 501(c)(3) tax status for pointing out Fox News' overt political agenda and distortion of facts. As we've detailed, these attacks are nothing more than attempt to silence a critic. Nevertheless, Fox can't seem to give up the attacks -- and it is now mixing more falsehoods into them.
On the October 1 edition of Fox & Friends Saturday, co-host Dave Briggs complained once again how Media Matters is "abusing your tax dollars" by wanting to "take down Fox News." Briggs brought on Tim Groseclose, former Heritage Foundation fellow and author of the book Left Turn, in which he expands on an earlier study he conducted on media bias using a strange methodology based on think tanks that, among other things, declared the American Civil Liberties Union to be slightly conservative and the National Rifle Association to be only slightly more conservative. Briggs then set up Groseclose to spin a Media Matters-bashing anecdote:
BRIGGS: I've heard they even went after you. How so?
GROSECLOSE: Oh, that's right, yeah, that's right. Well, it was a person who worked for Media Matters, his name is Eric Alterman. When I had written an earlier article, peer-reviewed, that talked about – which much of my book is based on. He wrote this article, accused me and my co-author of rigging the numbers -- that was the title of his essay. Outrageous – had no evidence of this. If he had asked for my data, I would have given it to him. This was peer-reviewed by professors at Harvard, the Quarterly Journal of Economics -- yet despite no evidence accused me of that.
This is straight from Groseclose's book, in which he similarly complained about "Eric Alterman, a writer at Media Matters," criticizing his earlier study.
Just one problem: Alterman wasn't affiliated with Media Matters at the time he wrote the column in question, which was actually published by the Center for American Progress.
As Alterman himself points out:
In fact, when the column was published in January 2006, I had never had any affiliation with Media Matters at all. Nor do I have any today. The organization sponsored my weblog Altercation for two years beginning in September 2006 and ending in 2008.
So why the irrelevant and inaccurate Media Matters identification with an organization with which I was so briefly affiliated? Perhaps Mr. Groseclose is simply lazy and unconcerned with accuracy. Or perhaps, as Mr. Groseclose surely knows, the words "Media Matters" act as a kind of dog whistle for the far right, implying "bad person" perhaps for its work in exposing the lies of Fox News.
Truthfully, I don't profess to know. Certainly if Mr. Groseclose had said, accurately, "Eric Alterman, a Senior Fellow of the Center for American Progress," or "Eric Alterman, a CUNY Distinguished Professor and author of eight books," it would not have had the same effect on his desired audience.
This is a classic example of the Fox Cycle at work, in which Fox makes an inaccurate charge, then relentlessly promotes it with the goal of getting coverage in the mainstream media.
In case the point of this falsehood-laden Fox & Friends segment wasn't clear, Briggs made sure to close it by saying: "If you want to file a complaint about Media Matters with the IRS, go to FoxNation.com, just click on the 'Justice' tab."