Newsradio 850 KOA host Jon Caldara falsely asserted on his July 25 show that Media Matters for America, Colorado Media Matters' parent organization, is a "George Soros group." In fact, Soros -- a progressive philanthropist -- has never provided funding for Media Matters, either directly or indirectly. Caldara further claimed that Media Matters "love[s] taking things out of context" -- a charge that Colorado Media Matters rebutted when Caldara leveled it in relation to a June 25 television interview by right-wing pundit Ann Coulter. Media Matters provided a full transcript and video of Coulter's remarks in an item about the interview.
On the July 25 broadcast of his Newsradio 850 KOA show, Jon Caldara stated falsely that Media Matters for America -- the parent organization of Colorado Media Matters -- is "a George Soros group." Colorado Media Matters has noted that Media Matters repeatedly has debunked the falsehood that the progressive philanthropist Soros has ever funded the organization, either directly or indirectly. Caldara also stated that at Media Matters, "they love taking things out of context." Caldara similarly claimed that Media Matters "pull[s] things out of ... context" on a previous broadcast while discussing a controversial comment by right-wing pundit and frequent guest Ann Coulter; in fact, Media Matters provided a transcript and video of the entire interview containing Coulter's quote.
Caldara also is president of the Independence Institute, an organization he labels "free-market oriented." He made his remarks about Media Matters while discussing a July 24 Rocky Mountain News article about media coverage of University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill, whom the university fired on July 24.
From the July 25 broadcast of Newsradio 850 KOA's The Jon Caldara Show:
CALDARA: And by the way, I believe that [630 KHOW-AM co-hosts Craig] Silverman and [Dan] Caplis have just done a terrific job covering this on our sister station. I thought, thought they've done a fine, fine job. "The saturation of Churchill coverage wasn't limited to radio." And then this paper goes into how many times it's been mentioned in the Rocky Mountain News, The Denver Post, the Daily Camera, including hits at the L.A. Times and The New York Times, and then how Churchill appeared on Hannity & Colmes for a heated debate. "And Bill O'Reilly was one of the first to pound on the Churchill topic regularly. Both hosts reference Churchill repeatedly in the television and radio programs. But was it overblown? Not necessarily, according to Bill Menezes executive director for Colorado Media Matters.org. His nonprofit group measures media reports for fairness and accuracy." Well, that's kind of interesting. Before, they said that [KOA host Mike] Rosen was "conservative-minded," and every time they mention my organization, the Independence Institute, they of course say that we are, quote, either conservative or libertarian-leaning. We like to call ourselves free-market oriented, and that's always put out there; we're Colorado's free-market think tank.
It's interesting that Colorado Media Matters, which is a spinoff of a George Soros organization called Media Matters and funded largely Democratic activist Tim Gill, is, is not mentioned here. It says that his group here "monitors media reports for fairness and accuracy" -- as seen by the left. As seen by the left. Now, it'll be interesting to see if Colorado Media Matters actually puts out a report -- as it usually does -- whining about the press, and hit the Rocky Mountain News for not accurately labeling them. Now, they, they labeled Mike Rosen as "conservative-minded." And they said here, "Silverman, who is the more liberal side of Caplis & Silverman" -- well, that's probably true. And they even said later on in this article, "even Alan Colmes, the liberal half of the Hannity & Colmes show, felt the need to preface questions for Churchill." So, all the players here who, who are put into this article they're labeled so you get an idea where they stand, except the George Soros group Media Matters, which, which takes on people on the right overwhelmingly. They're not mentioned here as, as anything; they're just, quote, a group that monitors media reports for fairness and accuracy. Well, isn't that nice? Wouldn't it be good if they had a label too, a prefix too? 303-713-8585. 713-8585. I guess liberal organizations are just "organizations" to the newspaper, but conservative organizations are always labeled, quote, that conservative group. And, you know, for 23 years the Independence Institute has been labeled "that conservative group." It would be interesting now that so many organizations have popped up to, to try to, try to counter us, and there's just -- I don't know, I can think of a half a dozen that have popped up in Colorado over the last few years. But wouldn't it be nice if the, if the papers and the media would, would recognize them as, oh, I don't know, liberal organizations?
As Media Matters has noted, conservative figures such as media consultant Phil Kent and Fox News host Bill O'Reilly have falsely claimed that Soros channels money to Media Matters from the Open Society Institute (OSI) through the Tides Foundation or the Center for American Progress (CAP). Alternatively, conservative figures have falsely claimed that Soros has funneled money to Media Matters through the Democracy Alliance.
In fact, OSI's income tax returns indicating grants to U.S. public charities show that every dollar OSI granted to Tides from 2001 to 2005 was earmarked for specific Tides-related programs and entities, and that Media Matters was not included on the list.
The available returns show that OSI has issued just two grants to CAP, both in 2005. According to the 2005 form, OSI granted $150,000 to CAP's Faith and Public Life Resource Center; it approved, but did not pay, a $110,000 grant to Campus Progress. Media Matters received no funding from CAP in 2005.
Media Matters also has not received funding from the Democracy Alliance, which does not itself make grants. Democracy Alliance founder Rob Stein explained during a November 30, 2006, forum hosted by the Hudson Institute titled "How Vast the Left Wing Conspiracy?":
STEIN: It's very important to understand that the Alliance does not take in any money to distribute to groups. The money we take in pays our administrative costs. We are not a 501(c)(3). We are a taxable nonprofit organization. We recommend to our partners, and our partners then make decisions which organizations to support, and they are fully informed -- we have very good counsel -- of all the legal requirements of disclosure and limitations that come with supporting any of those types of vehicles.
The Washington Post reported on July 17, 2006, that the Democracy Alliance "endorse[s]" specific organizations and serves as a "cooperative for donors, allowing them to coordinate their giving so that it has more influence."
While Soros is identified as a member of the Democracy Alliance, he has never given money to Media Matters through the alliance or otherwise.
In a conversation with a caller later in the broadcast, Caldara said of Media Matters, "[T]hey like to take things out of context" in order to generate pressure against talk radio hosts and "Imus" them -- a reference to the cancellation of host Don Imus' CBS Radio show Imus in the Morning following Media Matters' posting of racist and sexist comments Imus had made during a broadcast.
CALLER: Good evening, Jon.
CALLER: I just turned on the radio, I don't know, about 20 minutes ago. Just had to -- I read the same article today and I stopped when I got to where it said Media Matters only because for the exact same reason that you did. But --
CALDARA: Let, let, let's be honest -- Media Matters, by the way, is a George Soros national site, Media Matters. And what they do is try to show how awful particularly talk radio is and how right-wing it is. And so what they do is they like to take things out of context -- and they'll probably take that quote out of context -- and they, and they try to get leftists to pressure program directors and other people to, to -- well, they want to "Imus" folks. That's basically the way it is. They want to go out and "Imus" folks. And it's, it's clever and it certainly has some, some value for the left. Of course, it's not accurate, it's not fair, and they love taking things out of context, and that's, that's what they do. But for the Rocky Mountain News to accurately say "the conservative-minded Mike Rosen," which was appropriate; to say that "Silverman, the more liberal side of Caplis & Silverman"; "Alan Colmes, the liberal half of Hannity & Colmes" -- but then to say that this politically funded organization is just there to "monitor media reports for fairness and accuracy" --
During his June 27 broadcast, Caldara made a similar assertion about Media Matters taking "things out of context" -- while defending Coulter from criticism over a comment she made about Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards on the June 25 broadcast of ABC's Good Morning America. Caldara read from a June 27 article in The Hill that quoted Coulter as telling Good Morning America's Christopher Cuomo, "If I'm going to say anything about John Edwards in the future, I'll just wish he had been killed in a terrorist assassination plot." After reading the article, Caldara claimed, "There's an organization called Media Matters that nationally does this kind of stuff. What they do is pull things out of ... context and they drop it so it sounds outlandish." While the Hill article did not include the full context of Coulter's remark, a Media Matters item about Coulter's appearance did not "pull things out of ... context," as Caldara asserted, but included a transcript and video of the entire interview, as Colorado Media Matters pointed out.
Furthermore, Colorado Media Matters has identified numerous instances when Caldara has spread false information on his radio program. For example, on his April 2 broadcast, Caldara asserted that state Rep. Mike Merrifield (D-Manitou Springs) "received a staggering 70 percent ... of his campaign war chest from organized labor." In fact, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics, only 29.5 percent of Merrifield's total 2006 campaign contributions came from organized labor.
Later in Caldara's July 25 broadcast, the same caller falsely asserted that Colorado Media Matters would "not reveal that they're funded by [liberal Colorado philanthropist] Tim Gill."
CALLER: And funded by Tim Gill, of all people.
CALDARA: Right. So I'm wondering. Here, here, here's my challenge. I wonder if Media Matters is actually going to, to, to -- and they record all these shows and they're recording this, and that's because they got, they have money and time -- you know, it's, it's what happens when you're not effective. You have lots of money and lots of time. Anyway, I wonder: Will they, they come out and make a big stink that this, this report should have accurately portrayed them as a leftist organization? Hmm.
CALLER: No, of course they won't. You know, I wasted about three months where I was on their discussion board, and I challenged, you know, and, and all, all their discussion board was a personal attacks, basically. There were a, a few guys who made intelligent arguments in there. But, you know -- I imagine they'll title the critique of this show is, "Caldara once again spreads lies about Media Matters" or something. You, you can't say -- as long as your name is attached to it, there -- you, you will not be credited in any way whatsoever with anything good.
CALDARA: I wouldn't know; I don't read it. So -- let, let them do what they do. If they spend Tim Gill and George Soros' money, that, that's, that's terrific. Now, I don't know --
CALLER: Well, what they'll do is, they'll say, you know, they'll criticize -- what is your group again, the Independence --
CALDARA: The Independence Institute.
CALLER: They'll criticize the funding of Independence Institute but not reveal that they're funded by Tim Gill. I just -- it just blows my mind. You can't even --
CALDARA: Well you know, different, different political organizations get funded by different folks and different groups. That's fine. You know, it's, it's not, it's not that this leftist organization is doing anything wrong. They, they do what leftists do; they take things out of context and try to scare people. Bleah! All right --
CALLER: Right. Then they're --
CALDARA: But the problem is with, with, with David Montero's piece here that doesn't accurately identify them. Now, how many, how many times have you seen the Independence Institute or even my name in the newspaper without some sort of labeling? I guess at my point --
CALDARA: Without saying "conservative" --
CALDARA: -- or "libertarian"?
CALDARA: Never. And by the way, at this point I'm such a known quantity, I don't think people need to. You know, it, it's not, not that big of a deal.
CALLER: And that -- you know, I stopped reading his article right then and there because I'm immediately skeptical of the fairness of his reporting. I mean, it -- it's, it's such a -- it's like saying the sky's green, you know, it's -- and not --
CALDARA: Well, and for -- and let, let, let's face it, this is an organization that obviously is not very effective at what they do, but -- so people wouldn't know who they are. It's not like you need to label Mike Rosen as, as conservative. I think most readers know he's the conservative.
CALLER: Well, he says he's conservative, but these people don't -- well, I guess --
CALDARA: Well, let's --
CALLER: -- they do say they're progressive in certain areas, but I just --
CALDARA: Well, even -- even that code word would be a nice code word, for a reporter to say, "the self-proclaimed progressive organization." That would have been great. So, you know, forget the leftist organizations -- they, they, they're, they spread like viruses, you know, they're -- they just keep coming because there's a lot more rich-guy money in this town. So, that's great.
CALLER: I, I will give the guy maybe -- maybe he's, somebody just threw 'im his name, Bill Menezes or Bill Menzes or however you pronounce it, and say, you know, he's the guy that critiques the media. Maybe he didn't do backgrounds on the guy and --
CALDARA: Then that would be sloppy reporting, wouldn't it?
CALLER: That would be sloppy reporting, but if -- I have a feeling that it's not sloppy reporting and it's malicious and intentful.
CALDARA: No, let me disagree with you. I don't think it's malicious. I, I know a lot of reporters; I've got a lot of reporters who are friends. They're good guys. They're overwhelmingly left of center. But if you ask them, they will never see it. It's kind of like talking to an alcoholic. You know, alcoholics, you know, don't see their problem.
Contrary to the caller's assertion, Colorado Media Matters announced on its first day of operation -- July 24, 2006 -- that "Colorado Media Matters is supported by several local funders, including the Gill Foundation." Bill Menezes, the research organization's editorial director, also has provided the information in public interviews, such as that published in the September 14, 2006, issue of Westword.