Senate Minority Leader McConnell Lashes Out At Media Matters

In a June 21 appearance at the American Enterprise Institute to speak about “Washington's ongoing assault on free speech,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) described Media Matters for America as part of a “coordinated assault from groups on the left that don't like the idea of anyone criticizing their aims” that seeks to “harass” and “intimidate conservatives with the goal of scaring them off the political playing field.”

McConnell described this as “a grave and growing threat to the First Amendment.”

In response to McConnell's comments, Media Matters president Bradley Beychok said, “Mitch McConnell seems to be implying there is something underhanded or sinister about what Media Matters does. That is not the case. We monitor and correct conservative misinformation in the media. So what the Senator and so many others on the right are actually afraid of are their own words, which every day prove to contain plenty of misinformation.”

MCCONNELL: Last June I stood here and warned of a grave and growing threat to the First Amendment. That threat has not let up at all. Our ability to freely engage in civic life and organize in defense of our beliefs is still under coordinated assault from groups on the left that don't like the idea of anyone criticizing their aims. And from a White House that appears determined to shut up anybody who disagrees with it. Now on the outside there is a well-documented effort by a number of left wing groups like Media Matters to harass and to intimidate conservatives with the goal of scaring them off the political playing field and off the airwaves as well. An internal Media Matters memo from January 2010 showed the extent to which these tactics have been turned, literally, into a science. In it, we learned of the group's plan to conduct opposition research into the lives of on-air news personalities and other key decision makers over at Fox News. And to coordinate with 100 or so partner groups to pressure the network's advertisers and shareholders to, get this, by the threat of actual boycotts, rallies, demonstrations, shame, embarrassment and other tactics on a variety of issues important to the progressive agenda. They call themselves progressives these days. They had to make up a new name after the Reagan era because the term liberal is rather pejorative to most Americans these days. Now it's multiple databases could also be used, the memo said, to remove what it describes as chronically problematic media figures. Chronically problematic media figures. Or to preempt programming all together. Then of course there is the widespread effort to stifle speech actually from within the government itself, something the Obama administration has engaged in from its earliest days.

Some have traced this back even further to the 2008 campaign, but my central point when I was here with many of you last June, and my central point today, is this: the attacks on speech that we've seen over the past several years, were never, never, limited to a few left-wing pressure groups or even to the DISCLOSE Act which has been promoted over in Congress, which I'll turn to in a minute. They extend throughout the federal government to places like the FEC, the FCC, the HHS, and the SEC. And as all Americans now know, even to the IRS. These assaults often have been aided and abetted by the administration's allies in Congress and they are as virulent as ever.