Celebrity photographer Kimberly Butler is up on Huffington Post with an interesting video looking at "new media watchdogs" like Jon Stewart of Comedy Central's Daily Show. The video includes interviews with folks like Geraldo Rivera, John Ziegler, Juan Williams, Rachel Sklar and others.
Aside from the typical right-wing talking points from people like Ziegler (Fox News is popular because the other networks are sooo left-wing!), the piece is a pretty good look at how we've ended up where we are and why someone like Stewart wields such influence.
Over the weekend, Politico published a profile of Media Matters by Michael Calderone.
From a glitzy new office in downtown Washington, the ideological war over the media is fully engaged.
Six years after its founding to counter what it said was "conservative misinformation," Media Matters for America employs a staff of 70 that spends 19 hours a day monitoring newspapers, magazines, broadcast and cable television, talk radio, and the Internet to counter reporting or commentary it deems to be inaccurate or biased.
One of the bloodiest battles in that war occurred last fall, when Kevin Jennings, an openly-gay educator hired by the Department of Education to run an anti-bullying campaign, became a conservative cause.
Jennings was under fire from critics because he once described how as, a 24-year-old teacher, he counseled a student having a sexual relationship with an "older man." Several conservative outlets and commentators said that by law Jennings had to report the incident, claiming the student was only 15 years old at the time, and the relationship thus constituted statutory rape.
Media Matters obtained the student's driver's license and proved he was 16 at the time, the age of consent in Massachusetts. While some may still question Jennings' judgment, he didn't break any law.
"This should put to rest claims made by Fox News and other conservatives that Jennings covered up 'statutory rape' or 'molestation,'" wrote Media Matters senior fellow Karl Frisch. "To continue reporting such reckless speculation is at best willful disregard for the facts and at worst journalistic malpractice."
The battle over Jennings convinced Media Matters that it needed to not only monitor other media but to do its own original reporting. On Monday, Joe Strupp, who covered the press for 11 years with Editor & Publisher magazine, will launch a new media blog after signing on as the group's first investigative reporter.
Joining a partisan organization is a change for Strupp, given that his press coverage with E&P, or in appearances on "Fox News Watch," was solidly non-partisan. However, Media Matters, he says, didn't ask about his political beliefs when it hired him, and his goal remains to do "straight-ahead reporting." Still, Strupp acknowledges that he represents a "new sort of wing for their organization."
So while Media Matters may increasingly hire journalists with more traditional news backgrounds, the reporting and writing still fits in with the organization's goals. Unlike a newspaper, Media Matters is not in the business of selling advertising, subscriptions or competing on a variety of beats. It also has a clear political agenda.
For instance, Media Matters hired Will Bunch, a veteran Philadelphia Daily News reporter and blogger, as a senior fellow last month. Bunch plans on remaining at the Daily News while also working on a book that seems well-suited for the Media Matters audience: "The Backlash: Right-Wing Radicals, Hi-Def Hucksters, and Paranoid Politics in the Age of Obama."
While Media Matters president Eric Burns and senior fellow Eric Boehlert are more visible presences on cable news and talk radio, founder David Brock remains chief executive and a major presence in the organization.
He plays a key role in strategy and fundraising, which supports the entire non-profit apparatus, and is typically at the office each day. "He guides us, gives vision," Rabin-Havt said.
That Brock has anything to do with the organization at all is more than a little ironic given his own role as part of the right-wing conspiracy. Two of Brock's notable contributions were his book "The Real Anita Hill," and a 1994 American Spectator article that spawned "Troopergate," leading to allegations that Bill Clinton, while Governor of Arkansas, used state troopers to arrange liaisons with women.
Brock later confessed that much of the Anita Hill book was false, apologized to the Clintons for the Troopergate article, broke with the right officially in a 1997 Esquire piece, and four years later explained his conversion in greater detail with his memoir, "Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative."
At the time Brock started Media Matters, the main counter to conservative media groups such as MRC and the even more established Accuracy in Media, founded in 1969, was Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), a liberal watchdog group that launched in 1986 to target media bias and censorship. While FAIR offers some analysis online each day, it doesn't do so as comprehensively as the better-funded Media Matters, which has researchers posting clips of video and audio throughout the day along with frequently updated online content.
Rabin-Havt, who like other Media Matters executives, arrived at the organization after working for a number of groups affiliated with liberal advocacy and the Democratic Party, said he thinks Media Matters has been somewhat misunderstood by mainstream reporters.
"The culture here, in this office, and I think reporters would be surprised by this, isn't one of sniping or disrespect towards the media," Rabin Havt said, adding that "being a reporter is such an incredibly honored profession, and plays such a role in our society and our debate, and we want people to do the best job they can."
Be sure to check out the profile in its entirety.
Other Profiles of Media Matters:
Andrew Breitbart's Big Journalism delivered a monumentally lame, not to mention embarrassingly tardy, defense of the continuing ACORN controversy. And specifically it came up short in its limp attempt to rebuff New York prosecutors, whose sources told both the New York Daily News and the New York Post last week that the undercover ACORN videos they looked at, as part of their investigation, had been heavily edited.
Big Journalism's response to the charge the videos were edited? No they weren't. Trust us.
Yep, the same people who concocted the ACORN pimp myth, and who refuse to release all unedited ACORN videos, now insists that that we take their word over New York prosecutors who saw the unedited clips and announced they had been heavily edited.
But for the pure comic effect, you have to read the Breitbart crew's monumentally feeble attempt at defense:
Ironically, with no tangible evidence that O'Keefe's videos were, in fact, "heavily edited," the left has been literally heavily editing their attack plan against him – correcting, updating, and revising their angles of assault in order to catch up with the facts.
So yeah, just ignore those quotes from prosecutors in the Daily News and Post. According to Breitbart's team, they don't exists. Instead, in Breibart World, there's "no tangible evidence." And no, BTW, they won't dare release the unedited videos and give other independent observes a chance to confirm tangible evidence.
And check this part out:
Their next angle has been echoing the Brooklyn District Attorney's office contention that the videos were a "heavily edited splice job." No they weren't. And we still await a shred of evidence to the contrary. However, the left doesn't depend on evidence to support their accusations – they depend on the loudness and repetition of the accusation itself.
Priceless. Breitbart's site, having provided no evidence to support its claim about the ACORN vids, accuses the Left of never depending on evidence to support their charges.
It truly is amateur hour.
From a March 8 entry at the Jawa Report:
The Politico's Ben Smith reported on March 7 that he obtained a copy of a statement signed by several lawyers condemning recent attacks on Justice Department lawyers who have previously represented terror suspects or supported their legal arguments. As Smith noted, included among the signatories is David Rivkin, "an official in the first Bush administration who has emerged as a leading defender of the interrogation policies advocated by the Cheneys."
Smith reported that other signatories include "Bush Administration Acting Attorney General Peter Keisler, Condoleeza Rice legal adviser John Bellinger, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Detainee Affairs Matthew Waxman, and the right-leaning legal scholars Philip Bobbitt and Robert Chesney."
The full statement, as reported by Smith:
The past several days have seen a shameful series of attacks on attorneys in the Department of Justice who, in previous legal practice, either represented Guantanamo detainees or advocated for changes to detention policy. As attorneys, former officials, and policy specialists who have worked on detention issues, we consider these attacks both unjust to the individuals in question and destructive of any attempt to build lasting mechanisms for counterterrorism adjudications.
The American tradition of zealous representation of unpopular clients is at least as old as John Adams' representation of the British soldiers charged in the Boston massacre. People come to serve in the Justice Department with a diverse array of prior private clients; that is one of the department's strengths. The War on Terror raised any number of novel legal questions, which collectively created a significant role in judicial, executive and legislative forums alike for honorable advocacy on behalf of detainees. In several key cases, detainee advocates prevailed before the Supreme Court. To suggest that the Justice Department should not employ talented lawyers who have advocated on behalf of detainees maligns the patriotism of people who have taken honorable positions on contested questions and demands a uniformity of background and view in government service from which no administration would benefit.
Such attacks also undermine the Justice system more broadly. In terrorism detentions and trials alike, defense lawyers are playing, and will continue to play, a key role. Whether one believes in trial by military commission or in federal court, detainees will have access to counsel. Guantanamo detainees likewise have access to lawyers for purposes of habeas review, and the reach of that habeas corpus could eventually extend beyond this population. Good defense counsel is thus key to ensuring that military commissions, federal juries, and federal judges have access to the best arguments and most rigorous factual presentations before making crucial decisions that affect both national security and paramount liberty interests. To delegitimize the role detainee counsel play is to demand adjudications and policymaking stripped of a full record. Whatever systems America develops to handle difficult detention questions will rely, at least some of the time, on an aggressive defense bar; those who take up that function do a service to the system.
From Erickson's March 7 Redstate.com blog post:
At least since the 19th century, it has been the left employing murder and death as a political weapon. From Hitler to Mao to Lenin to Stalin to Chavez to Castro to Guevera to Arafat to Pol Pot to Mugabe to [insert your favorite American union] to Margaret Sanger the left and its heroes have used death, violence, and murder to advance their agenda.
For every Pinochet or Netanyahu the left grasps for, the list is three times as long on the left.
It is inconvenient. The left will try to laugh it off or attack the person pointing out, but the truth remains.
It is not conservatives burning down homes in Washington State with the ELF. It is not conservatives throwing blood on women wearing fur. It is not conservatives burning down the Texas Governor's Mansion during riots. It is not conservatives rioting during G-8 summits.
It is and has always been the left. Deal with it.
From a March 6 Big Journalism post:
Mark Steyn is always right, whether he's writing about Andrew Lloyd Webber or, in this case, the suicide-bomber-in-chief, Barack Obama, who doesn't much care how many Democrats get sent to the electoral Elysian Fields -- or even whether he gets a second term -- as long as he can blow up the capitalist system from within. Excuse me -- effect "fundamental change." And what better way to get Hussein's camel's nose under your hospital gown than by taking over the American health-care system, all under the guise of "reform?"
From The Fox Nation, accessed on March 6:
Fox Nation links goes to conservative radio host Mark Levin's effort to pressure members of congress to vote against Democratic health care reform efforts.
From the March 6 edition of Fox News' Forbes on Fox:
Because really, what else does Andrew Breitbart's crew have left?
This week, New York prosecutors announced they would not be filing any criminal charges against ACORN, because after viewing the Breitbart-sponsored undercover ACORN tapes, prosecutors couldn't find any wrongdoing. Although they reportedly did find evidence of Breitbart's crew manipulating the tapes for partisan reasons.
By my count that's the third independent review of the ACORN scandal, and not one of the reviews has found any criminal wrongdoing. So of course Breitbart's Big Government wants more independent reviews. (What ever happened to three strikes and you're out?)
So at ACORN-hating central, Big Government demanded to know why California officials, and specifically AG Jerry Brown, weren't properly investigating ACORN. (Apparently, that's the one that's really going to blow the lid of this scandal.) Big Government then takes us on a stroll down memory lane to last fall when the site launched on of its patented (i.e. utterly pointless), and painfully dumb, ACORN 'investigations,' in which some over-eager blogger basically went dumpster diving outside of the group's San Diego office and claimed to have hit the jackpot.
So anyway, here's the clarion call for a California investigation, as Big Government details all the damning anti-ACORN evidence that was rounded up in San Diego [emphasis added]:
Shortly after ACORN had been alerted to the immanent investigation as a result of AG Brown's public announcement, ACORN employees at the San Diego, CA office were caught engaging in a massive document dump on October 9, 2009. Those records were retrieved from an unsecured shared public dumpster where they had been thrown revealing sensitive personal, financial and banking information for both clients and employees in addition to revelations about the political inner workings of ACORN's relationship with major U.S. banks and labor unions.
In other words, ACORN took out the trash (i.e. "massive document dump") and then some ACORN hater went dumpster diving in search of treasure. But please note the description of the dumpster. According to Big Government, the ACORN docs were "retrieved from an unsecured shared public dumpster."
Okay, now please look at the photo of the dumpster that Big Government itself originally posted to accompany the supposed blockbuster story.
Does that dumpster look "unsecured"? Does that dumpster look "public"? It gets better, trust me. Last October, Breitbart conceded the dumpster was located "behind ACORN in San Diego." And get this: the Big Government blogger himself admitted that he drove by a no trespassing sign to get to the ACORN dumpster.
So to recap, today Big Government claims the ACORN dumpster was "unsecured" and "public." But in truth, last fall it was caged, on private property, located behind a no trespassing sign, and was raided under the cover of night.
Just another example of how Big Government's fruitless, sputtering ACORN crusade borders on the absurd.
UPDATED: Is this where I formally ask Big Government to correct its inaccurate reporting about the "unsecured" and "public" dumpster? Oh, my bad. Breitbart only demands retractions. He doesn't post them.
Behold "conservative journalism"!