USA Today Op-Ed Accusing Media Matters Of 21st Century “Book Burning” Is Missing A Major Disclosure

USA Today published an op-ed from The Media Institute president Patrick Maines attacking Media Matters for purportedly engaging “in the 21st century's version of book burning” by “target[ing] advertisers on shows such as Rush Limbaugh and Fox News.” But the paper didn't disclose that Maines' group receives financial support from the very media companies that have a business interest in preventing such actions, including Fox News and Clear Channel, which owns Rush Limbaugh syndicator Premiere Networks.

Maines' October 16 op-ed accused Media Matters of supporting “the suppression of speech” for having targeted advertisers. He added that Media Matters “traffics in the 21st century's version of book burning” and “it's something to ponder as the country celebrates Free Speech Week this month.”

Maines also criticized TruthRevolt for its boycott campaign of Al Sharpton's MSNBC program. TruthRevolt is a new organization headed by discredited activists Ben Shapiro and David Horowitz which aspires to be the conservative equivalent of Media Matters.  

The op-ed simply identified Maines as: “Patrick Maines is president of The Media Institute."

The Media Institute has a financial interest in attacking Media Matters. The 501(c)(3) non-profit organization states that it “receives financial support from foundations, corporations, media companies, associations, and individuals.”

The group's November 14, 2012, Friends & Benefactors Awards Banquet honored Clear Channel CEO Bob Pittman with its Freedom of Speech Award. Clear Channel was listed as a platinum sponsor, then-Fox News parent News Corporation (which later split into 21st Century Fox and News Corp.) was listed as a gold sponsor, and Fox News Channel was listed as a silver sponsor.

The Media Institute's board of trustees includes Michael Regan, the executive vice president of Fox News-parent company 21st Century Fox., and Jessica A. Marventano, senior vice president for Clear Channel.

The board also includes Meredith A. Baker, the senior vice president NBCUniversal, which produces Al Sharpton's program. Comcast/NBCUniversal was a platinum sponsor of the 2012 banquet. USA Today owner Gannett Co. also has a seat on the board.