The New York Times ponders whether Media Matters has made a difference in the current American election by intimidating some reporters or commentators, or forcing a change in the tone of others. It’s “difficult to judge, with no shortage of blogs now trying to do some version of what it does,” notes reporter Jacques Steinberg. What the well-financed Media Matters does, he writes, is produce “a rapid-fire, technologically sophisticated means to call out what it considers “conservative misinformation” on air or in print, then feed it to a Rolodex of reporters, cable channels and bloggers hungry for grist.”
“A Fox News anchor asks whether Senator Barack Obama and his wife had greeted each other with a “terrorist fist jab.” Rush Limbaugh calls military personnel critical of the war in Iraq “phony soldiers.” Mr. Limbaugh and another Fox host repeat an accusation that Mr. Obama attended a madrassa, or Islamic school, in Indonesia.
“Each of these moments might have slipped into the broadcast ether but for the efforts of Media Matters for America, the nonprofit, highly partisan research organization that was founded four years ago by David Brock, a formerly conservative author who has since gone liberal.”
Steinberg’s story notes that when Fox news digitally altered a photo of him, that attack was brought to light by Media Matters. There’s a tasty morsel of irony here.