By targeting Fox News and, in particular host Tucker Carlson in recent days, the George Soros-financed progressive activist organization Media Matters for America is not simply going after one of the leading conservative voices in the American news media.
The controversial group’s anti-Carlson campaign may be more personal. Carlson previously caused severe credibility issues for Media Matters when, as the founder and editor of The Daily Caller, he released a seminal series of investigative reports in 2012 first exposing controversial Media Matters tactics, including reportedly assembling an enemies list and discussing a plan to possibly investigate the personal lives of Fox News employees.
The Daily Caller series was launched with a news-making piece co-authored by Carlson himself citing internal memos and sources revealing close coordination between Media Matters and the Obama White House, reportedly including holding a weekly strategy call with Obama administration officials.
That piece by Carlson was titled, “Inside Media Matters: Sources, memos reveal erratic behavior, close coordination with White House and news organizations.”
The investigative report took direct aim at longtime Hillary Clinton ally David Brock, who founded Media Matters seven years earlier. Carlson’s article cited sources describing the Media Matters founder as displaying erratic behavior and fostering a workplace environment of paranoia. Some sources described as being in Brock’s “orbit” even alleged illicit drug use:
Extensive interviews with a number of Brock’s current and former colleagues at Media Matters, as well as with leaders from across the spectrum of Democratic politics, reveal an organization roiled by its leader’s volatile and erratic behavior and struggles with mental illness, and an office where Brock’s executive assistant carried a handgun to public events in order to defend his boss from unseen threats.
Friends say Brock, who has publicly admitted drug use in the past, was working obsessively and staying out late with compatriots. “They’d close [local bars] and party till six in the morning,” said one. A number of people in Brock’s orbit believe he was regularly using illegal drugs, including cocaine. “It’s not like he was trying to keep it a secret,” says a female friend of Brock’s.
Sources back at the Media Matters offices describe an atmosphere of tension and paranoia. “Many of us lived in fear that at any point we could be fired,” one said. Brock believed he had received credible death threats, and employed a two-man security detail, at least one of whom was armed and acted as his driver. A new security system was installed in his house. He became concerned that one of his bodyguards was plotting against him.
Carlson’s article was followed up by another Daily Caller investigation, this one citing internal Media Matters memos that revealed a comprehensive enemies list.
The Daily Caller reported:
An internal Media Matters For America memo obtained by The Daily Caller reveals that the left-wing media watchdog group employs an “opposition research team” to target its political enemies. Included in the list of targets are right-leaning websites, conservative think tanks, prominent financiers and donors, and more than a dozen specific Fox News Channel and News Corporation employees.
“We will conduct extensive public records searches and compile opposition books on individuals,” declares the memo, likely written in late 2009. Investigations, it says, “will focus on the backgrounds, connections, operations and political and financial activities of the individuals.”
Yet another Daily Caller exposé followed, reporting that a Media Matters memo had advocated for a project that would, among other things, investigate the personal lives of Fox News employees.
“We must take Fox News head-on in a well-funded, presidential-style campaign to discredit and embarrass the network, making it illegitimate in the eyes of news consumers,” the memo read, according to the report.
“We should hire private investigators to look into the personal lives of Fox News anchors, hosts, reporters, prominent contributors, senior network and corporate staff,” the memo continued.
The Daily Caller’s probes of Media Matters received widespread attention within conservative and independent media spheres, including prominent links at the Drudge Report, coverage at Fox News and numerous articles by this reporter.
Carlson himself appeared as a guest on Fox News to discuss his Media Matters investigations.
Fast forward seven years. Media Matters released two attack posts documenting statements about women, Iraqis, and minorities that the organization characterized as offensive. The comments were made by Carlson during regular segments in which he called into the Bubba the Love Sponge Show, a radio program known for wild stunts and politically incorrect cultural and political conversations.
“Media Matters caught me saying something naughty on a radio show more than a decade ago,” Carlson responded in a statement, suggesting critics are angry because he declined to “express the usual ritual contrition.”
Carlson opened up his highly-rated Fox News show, “Tucker Carlson Tonight”, with a seven minute monologue deriding what he described as mob tactics while accusing Democrats of engaging in a “deadly serious” campaign to “crush” opposing ideologies.
“We’ve always apologized when we’re wrong, and we’ll continue to do that,” Carlson said. “That’s what decent people do. They apologize. But we will never bow to the mob, ever, no matter what.”
“Fox News is behind us, as they have been since the very first day,” Carlson said. “Toughness is a rare quality in a TV network, and we’re grateful for that.”
Carlson spoke as graphics displayed on the screen read, “The Mob,” “Crackdown on Dissent” and “Liberal Hypocrisy.”
The Fox News host criticized Republican politicians as doing “a fairly credible imitation of an opposition party.”
“But on the deepest level, it’s all a pose,” he said. “The mob demands a response. Very often, the first people calling for the destruction of that person are Republican leaders. You saw it with the Covington Catholic High School kids. You see it all the time.”
Media Matters is known for deploying controversial tactics against outlets like Fox News, Breitbart and talk radio.
Soros has financed Media Matters, including by providing a $1 million donation in 2010 “to hold Fox News accountable for the false and misleading information they so often broadcast.
David Brock once described Media Matters as aiming to wage an all-out campaign of “guerrilla warfare and sabotage” against Fox News.
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.