Fox "News" Judgment: Media Matters Tax Status More Important Than NY Same-Sex Marriage Bill

Fox "News" Judgment: Media Matters Tax Status More Important Than NY Same-Sex Marriage Bill


Since June 23, Fox News has devoted 35 full segments to discredited attacks on Media Matters for America that suggest that the Internal Revenue Service should revoke the organization's 501(c)(3) tax status. By contrast, over the same time period, the network devoted only six full segments and 13 news briefs to New York's passage of legislation legalizing same-sex marriage.

Fox News Gave Significantly More Coverage To Discredited Attacks On Media Matters Than To NY Marriage Bill

Fox Aired Five Times More Full Segments Attacking Media Matters' Tax Status Than It Did On Same-Sex Marriage in NY. Fox News aired 35 full segments that attacked Media Matters and questioned the organization's tax status between June 23 and July 10, but only six full segments on the passage of legislation legalizing same-sex marriage in New York during the same period, according to a Media Matters analysis. Fox also ran 13 news briefs on the marriage bill.

Fox comparison graph

To see Media Matters data on Fox News' attacks, click here.

To see Media Matters data on Fox News' coverage of same-sex marriage in New York, click here.

Politico: Legal Expert Says "The Law Is On Media Matters's Side." From a July 7 Politico article:

In the past 10 days, Fox has run more than 30 segments calling for the nonprofit group to be stripped of its tax-exempt status. Its Fox Nation website has even provided a link to pre-completed complaint forms against Media Matters to send to the Internal Revenue Service. [...]

Its argument was first laid out in a June 22 column in the Washington Times by C. Boyden Gray, former President George H.W. Bush's White House counsel, who cited two actions by Media Matters: its "unsupported" claims about Fox News being the voice of the Republican Party and a "sophisticated, Democratic-leaning media training boot camp" sponsored by the group that, Gray said, in essence, provided support to the Democratic Party. [...]

Marcus Owens, a partner at Caplin & Drysdale and former director of the Exempt Organizations Division of the IRS, said the law is on Media Matters's side on both counts. [...]

Owens argues that Media Matters is no different from its competitors on the right when it comes to these criteria.

"The bottom line is, as long as an organization is following a process and establishing or attempting to establish that its views have some basis in fact, then as long as it isn't doing something like the equivalent of shouting fire in a crowded theater or encouraging people to commit crimes, then it probably is going to qualify as educational," he said. "As a result, we have Media Matters, and we have Brent Bozell and the Media Research Center, and we have all kinds of other organizations that are doing the same thing."

He argues that MRC's website is not substantially different from Media Matters in that both attack media companies on what they feel is the opposite side of the ideological aisle.

"I'm afraid Fox loses this round," Owens said. [Politico, 7/7/11]


Media Matters compiled coverage of Fox News' attacks on our organization's tax status as they aired.

Media Matters reviewed Fox News transcripts in Nexis,, and Snapstream databases featuring the words "marry," "marriage," or "york" to count the network's coverage of the New York marriage bill.

News segments in which an issue was a main topic of discussion or reporting were coded as "full segments." Shorter reports (less than one minute) on an issue were coded as "news briefs." Passing mentions were not coded. Reports in rebroadcast programming were not coded. Packaged reports that ran on multiple programs were coded each time they ran.

Posted In
Diversity & Discrimination, LGBTQ
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