Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Looks Like Media Only Matter Until You Criticize Media Matters (UPDATED below)

I've been a regular reader of and commenter on the work of liberal press critic Media Matters For America since its birth in 2004. Two days ago, I wrote about my relationship with MMFA:

"Since its inception, MMFA has done a lot of good work. I've promoted that work over the years, praised it, expanded on some of it. Maybe half-a-dozen MMFA articles in earlier years were the result of tips I provided. Sometimes, when I've thought the work fell short, I've criticized it. Not, I think, unfairly, though readers will certainly judge that on their own."

This month, I've had occasion to offer up some more of that criticism,  more of that criticism, principally that MMFA has become overly fixated on Fox News in the last few years and that, as a consequence, coverage of Fox is consuming MMFA's output to the point that the org is ignoring the real giants of the press, the major vehicles by which right-wing misinformation is disseminated to the public. I conducted a little survey of MMFA's total output for a 13-day period and showed that over 60% of it was directed at Fox News, while very little had been devoted to the largest press outlets in the U.S. Yesterday morning, to further this point, I made a count of Monday's output and posted it in MMFA's comment section:

Mon., 27 Aug., 2012
Total MMFA items: 21

Fox News items - 13 (nearly 66% of total)
Rush Limbaugh items - 2

Items on Cable News Channels:
1 about CNN and Current (also included in Fox count)
CNN - 1

Items on the Major News Networks:
CBS - 0
NBC - 0
ABC - 0

Items on 5 Biggest Papers in the U.S.:
Wall Street Journal - 0
USA Today - 0
New York Times - 0
Los Angeles Times - 0
San Jose Mercury News - 0

MMFA Self-Promotional Items - 2

I have to reproduce this count here rather than linking to the one I posted at MMFA because the one I posted there has been deleted. And based on it, I was, yesterday, entirely banned from posting comments on MMFA.

I've been banned from a lot of sites over the years. I'm a born contrarian, outspoken and a lefty who makes it a point to challenge conservatives on their own turf. In a world in which serious dissidents are increasingly regarded merely as party-poopers rather than people whose ideas should be addressed and debated, this gets me tagged as a troublemaker. I consider it a matter of personal pride that I've been thrown off Newsbusters not once but twice, for no other violation of their terms of use than holding left views, being somewhat articulate in expressing them and refusing to back down from nonsense. I expect that sort of behavior from a vile, reactionary Ministry of Truth like Newsbusters. That this is how much of the right handles dissent is part of why I write this blog. I do not expect this sort of behavior from liberals and particularly not from Media Matters.

In my Monday article, I suggested that MMFA's obsession with Fox News inadvertently fuels one of the very notions MMFA exists to counter, the idea that the national corporate press are "liberal media." Spending so much time on a single outlet everyone acknowledges as conservative implies that even a liberal press watchdog that claims it "comprehensively" monitors media can find very little in the rest of the press about which to complain. Monday, another commentator on MMFA suggested to me that in offering what I'd hoped would be some constructive criticism, I could be doing the work of Fox News--tearing down MMFA. I found it a fundamentally wrongheaded notion and said so. I find myself wondering what that fellow would think of what's happened with me. I haven't just been banned; most of my comments from the last few days were flagged and have now been removed by MMFA mods.[1] It's a well-circulated conservative caricature of liberals that they're intolerant of dissent. MMFA's actions in this matter couldn't have more entirely played into that if the caricature's author himself had been behind them.[2] My ban from MMFA treats the world to the spectacle of an allegedly liberal organization that behaves in this most illiberal manner. I've slammed Newsbusters for being an org devoted to criticizing the work of the press that will not, itself, tolerate criticism of its own work. It seems it's no longer alone in this.

And if you're out there, who is doing the work of who?



[1] In recent days, I attracted the attention of a first-rate asswipe who posts on MMFA under the name of "montanabuddha." He was in such a hurry to pour bile over anything that would be critical of MMFA that he didn't even bother to look at the criticism itself and thought my perspective was that of a right-wing apologist for Fox News. I believe him to be responsible for most of the flagging of my comments.

[2] UPDATE (3 Sept., 2012) - An article at the right-wing Daily Caller from as recently as 17 June recounts a speech Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell had just given in which he singled out Media Matters, describing it as "a left-wing organization in Washington whose stated purpose is to track conservative media voices, seize on potentially offensive content and then use it to mount corporate intimidation campaigns aimed at driving these voices clear out of the public square." MMFA, of course, does not have that as its "stated purpose" and McConnell made other ludicrous comments about teh org as well but while the speech itself, as recounted in the article, is nonsense, it is an example of conservatives crafting that caricature.

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