April 28, 2014

From this Sunday's Reliable Sources on CNN, host Brian Stelter gave Media Matters president David Brock a chance to respond to former CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson's unfounded accusation that someone was paying Media Matters to target her.

As we pointed out here, and as did Brock during this interview, her shoddy "reporting" speaks for itself as to why a watchdog organization like Media Matters would flag her work.

STELTER: So what does Media Matters really do, and what do they not do?

Joining me now in San Francisco is the founder of the organization, David Brock.

David, thank you for coming on.


STELTER: Does Media Matters ever receive donations, and then explicitly target a single individual because of that donation?

BROCK: No, we don't do that. We have never done that.

Our donors are funding us because they want an honest discourse. They want fact-based journalism and they want some pushback on all the conservative misinformation in the media.

She came on, obviously made a sensational charge that's not true. But if people knew a little bit about how we worked -- I can tell you in the Sharyl Attkisson case, look, we are almost 24/7 monitoring a cross-range of political media.

And she came on our radar screen in the normal course of events. There was nothing unusual about it. We noticed a pattern of misinformation in her work. We posted critiques to our Web site of her work. And it all transparent. It was accurate. She never said we were wrong about anything. And that's what we do at Media Matters.

STELTER: So, it is true that -- she would use the word target. You -- probably, you wouldn't use the word target, but you do pursue individual journalists who you feel are inaccurate or who are biased?

BROCK: Sure, we do.

So, right. And it's well beyond Sharyl Attkisson. We're watching, we're monitoring all of the national journalism. And once we start to see patterns, we will stay on a story, just like a journalist will stay on a story. And, so, in her case, we did stay on her story.

As I said, she did not say we got anything wrong in the critiques we made. She seemed comfortable coming out here and saying that we worked with her previously. We worked with her on stories. I don't know any specifics about that. But we do work with reporters. We're a media watchdog group. I have no reason to doubt that.

STELTER: On FOX News, Media Matters gets painted as the George Soros-funded group. Is he the main donor? Is it right for FOX News to basically describe it that way?

BROCK: No, it's -- I mean, we appreciate George Soros' generosity, but he's a major donor, but it's not a huge percentage of our budget.

We have a very diverse funding base. And we're really not beholden to anybody.

STELTER: So, for example, what percentage of your funding would come from Soros?

BROCK: Less than 10 percent.

STELTER: So, you're saying that you have a diverse number of donors, but they all have the same interests, don't they, same liberal politics at heart?

BROCK: Sure. I mean, I think their interest is in honest journalism and a fair debate. And I think we think and I think our donors believe that, in the vast majority of cases, if people get accurate information, rather than misinformation, that's going to serve the progressive cause, sure.

And we're open about the fact that we are a liberal organization. That doesn't mean our facts are wrong.

STELTER: Let's talk about what kinds of assistance Media Matters does and doesn't provide.

I'm on the e-mail list that so many other reporters are on. I see your all's e-mails when you notice conservative outrage, for example, something that Rush Limbaugh says that is out of line. Tell me about the kinds of assistance that you provide.

BROCK: We are sometimes a source of news ourselves.

In this past week, the story of the racist rancher from Nevada, we watch FOX News, so you don't have to. And so we were seeing what was going on in the buildup of this fellow as some sort of patriot. And then, when it all unraveled in an interview with "The New York Times," the racist rancher claimed he was misquoted.

We were the first organization to find the videotape that showed the actual quote. And that got played all over television in the last few days, and that was obviously helpful to "The New York Times." And so we can also have a constructive relationship with the press.

And I guess the third way would be, we do work to get retractions or apologies from and redress of situations where we feel that something's been said that's false or wrong.

STELTER: So, what you're saying is, it's perfectly normal, and that viewers, readers, they should be aware that groups like yours do provide basically raw material to reporters, but it's ultimately the reporters who are the ones producing the content?

BROCK: That's right.

And there are conservative groups that are out there also trying to influence and shape media coverage. There's nothing unusual about that. They seem to be particularly incensed about Media Matters' relationship with the media. Maybe we're doing a better job than they are. I don't know what the frustration comes from.

But, yes, I mean, these sorts of groups have existed for a long time. And I think it's an important part of journalism. And I think it's an important part of keeping democracy strong, that all sides are being watched.

STELTER: Well, David Brock, thank you for coming on and telling me more about what Media Matters does and doesn't do.

BROCK: Thank you.

Of course to keep things "fair and balanced" CNN was going to have the Media Research Center's Brent Bozell on with Brock, but he declined to appear with him. I'm sure he'll be more than happy to come on later when there's no one there to refute his lies.


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