Olbermann named Wash. Times op-ed writer "Worst Person" "runner-up" for Media Matters falsehood

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On the May 9 edition of MSNBC's Countdown, host Keith Olbermann named conservative media consultant Phil Kent the "runner-up" in his nightly "Worst Person in the World" segment for repeating the debunked claim that philanthropist George Soros funds Media Matters for America through a variety of other organizations in an effort to "manipulate[] the media by stifling and smearing center-right political voices." As Media Matters noted, Kent wrote a May 8 op-ed for The Washington Times that echoed baseless assertions by Fox News host Bill O'Reilly. Olbermann cited Kent for "repeating the lie that the media watchdog group Media Matters for America is funded by George Soros, even though all funding records prove that it is flatly untrue." He added: "If this sounds like a repetition of the stuff Bill O'Reilly made up, that's because it is. The newspaper is now using as its sole source on a story: Bill-O."

As Media Matters documented, on the April 26 O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly claimed Media Matters' denial that it receives funding from Soros "is a total lie," noting that the Tides Foundation donated over $1 million to Media Matters in 2005. O'Reilly also claimed that "just by coincidence Soros' Open Society Institute [OSI] donated more than a million dollars to Tides in 2005," adding: "Figure it out." But, as Media Matters noted, OSI's donations to Tides were designated for specific programs, and Media Matters was not included on this list. Notwithstanding O'Reilly's falsehood, Kent's op-ed expanded on O'Reilly's theory, claiming that "the Open Society Institute has given over $17 million to the Tides Foundation between 2001 and 2005. Tides then shamelessly turns around and grants Media Matters $3.3 million between 2003 to 2005 (the latest available years its tax returns are available)." However, as with O'Reilly's claim, Media Matters posted portions of OSI's IRS 990 forms, showing that every dollar OSI granted to Tides from 2001 to 2005 was earmarked for specific recipients, of which Media Matters was not one. Soros has never given money to Media Matters, directly or through another organization.

Also on the May 9 Countdown, Olbermann awarded Fox News contributor and syndicated columnist Dick Morris the "bronze" in the "Worst Person" segment for asserting that MSNBC had biased the May 3 Republican presidential debate against former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. As Media Matters noted, on the May 7 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, Morris claimed that MSNBC's Chris Matthews, who helped moderate the debate, had participated in "a deliberate act by Politico.com and MSNBC ... to hurt Rudy." During the show, Olbermann -- who anchored MSNBC's pre-debate coverage -- said: "First of all, we have the power to do that? Second, a deliberate act? Have you ever actually worked in television, Dick? Our only deliberate act was the desperate struggle to get the damn show on and off the air on time."

From the May 9 broadcast of MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann:

OLBERMANN: The bronze to Dick Morris of "Fox Noise" again, claiming that because [Republican presidential candidates] Mitt Romney and John McCain both got slightly more time during last Thursday's Republican debate here on MSNBC than did Rudy Giuliani. This was a, quote, "deliberate act by MSNBC and Politico.com and Chris Matthews to deny Giuliani the nomination."

First of all, we have the power to do that? Second, a deliberate act? Have you ever actually worked in television, Dick? Our only deliberate act was the desperate struggle to get the damn show on and off the air on time.

The runner-up, Phil Kent, writing an op-ed in The Washington Times, repeating the lie that the media watchdog group Media Matters for America is funded by George Soros, even though all funding records prove that it is flatly untrue. If this sounds like a repetition of the stuff Bill O'Reilly made up, that's because it is. The newspaper is now using as its sole source on a story: Bill-O.

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