On December 4, David Horowitz, editor in chief and co-founder of the right-wing website FrontPageMag.com, falsely accused Media Matters for America of "label[ing] Bill Cosby a racist." In an entry in his FrontPageMag.com weblog, Horowitz cited a December 1 reader comment posted on the Media Matters for America website -- but not authored by Media Matters -- to criticize "the privileged leftists at MM [who] could not care less about the lives of the black people who actually reside in these communities."
Media Matters neither endorses nor condemns the reader comments posted in Media Matters discussion forums. Specific reader comments, including the one cited by Horowitz, are regularly selected to be featured on the Media Matters homepage under the heading "Currently Under Discussion" to draw attention to the reader forums and inspire further discussion. The comments do not represent the opinions of Media Matters.
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Moreover, prior to this writing, Media Matters has never mentioned Cosby as part of any item posted by Media Matters staff.
On December 6, Horowitz posted on his blog a comment he received from a FrontPageMag.com reader in response to his December 4 blog entry. The reader questioned Horowitz's use of the reader comment to characterize Media Matters.
The comment sent to Horowitz read as follows:
I'm a bit confused. It doesn't appear to me that Cosby is actually called a racist, but that the author is using a hypothetical example of how one could make racist statements and still be black (much like, now that I think about it, people like to call [linguist and political activist Noam] Chomsky an anti-Semite). I'm also not sure that it's fair to characterize a posting as representative of the site. The leaders of MM may agree with everything in it, but I don't think that should be assumed, nor should it be assumed that you support every idea posted on this site. Or should it?
In his response, Horowitz argued that the Media Matters reader comment he originally cited was tantamount to a declaration of opinion by Media Matters:
You're forgetting the context. I brought up Cosby because MM called me a racist for saying the same things that he is saying. This poster is basically saying, yes, blacks can be racist too when they say the things that Horowitz is saying. As for the fact that it's a poster not a staffer who wrote it, it was prominently featured on their home page as the sole email visible for three days at least. It's not as though I dug into their forum and plucked out an email that suited my purposes. If the shoe fits ...