Do you think something is fishy about the Don Imus affair? Why was the boom lowered on him at this time? The answer may have something to do with his main accuser, the Media Matters group, which is emerging as a front organization for Senator Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and has extensive ties to the national Democratic Party. In firing Imus, NBC News and CBS got rid of one of Hillary’s major political enemies in the media.
Glenn Thrush of Newsday wrote a revealing September 7, 2006, article about the relationship between Senator Clinton and David Brock, the former conservative who runs Media Matters. Calling it the “Clinton-Brock alliance,” Thrush revealed that Hillary “advised Brock on creating the group” and “chats with him occasionally and thinks he provides a valuable service…” Thrush added, “For her part, Clinton’s extended family of contributors, consultants and friends has played a pivotal role in helping Media Matters grow from a $3.5 million start-up in 2004 to its current $8.5 million budget.”
Another key funding source for Media Matters (and much of the left-wing movement in this country) is George Soros, the billionaire financial speculator who profits at the expense and decay of Western civilization. His causes include legalization of marijuana and other drugs, gun control, abortion rights, gay rights, rights for felons, opposition to the death penalty, rights for illegal immigrants, and euthanasia. On foreign affairs, Soros, a big backer of the United Nations, is associated with opposition to the U.S. policy of resisting the rise of radical and anti-American Islamic groups and states. He spent $26 million in 2004 trying to defeat President Bush.
Media Matters receives Soros money through the Democracy Alliance, a group of wealthy “progressive” donors that was the subject of rumors in the left-wing press that it was a front group for Hillary’s 2008 presidential campaign.
The “Inside Story”
By now, everyone knows the basic story of Don Imus. A shock jock who had been saying shocking things on his radio/TV show for years, said some more shocking things and got fired. But why was he singled out for firing after all these years of saying shocking things? Some are saying that it had something to do with his latest victims, the mostly black Rutgers women’s basketball team. The rationale is that insulting this particular group of people was somehow over the line, as compared with all of his other jokes, insults and putdowns. But that argument isn’t very convincing. There is something else to this story.
In a Dateline NBC report by correspondent Dennis Murphy, we are being given the official “inside story” of Imus’s firing. Murphy briefly alludes to the role of the “liberal watchdog group,” Media Matters, in the controversy, and claims that various NBC News employees played a key role in getting Imus fired. But Murphy’s corporate line has to be dismissed completely out of hand because of his ridiculous assertion that Al Sharpton, a notorious racial demagogue, was merely a “civil rights leader” who played a big role in the affair. If Murphy won’t or can’t tell the truth about Sharpton’s sordid background, you know he’s not leveling with his audience about what really happened inside NBC.
Asked by Murphy if the network was caving in to pressure groups, NBC News President Steven Capus replied that “Rather than portraying it as caving to pressure groups, I would say that we listened to America.” Capus must believe we are all saps.
The real “inside story,” as Newsday’s Thrush indicated, is that Media Matters, the organization that initially taped and distributed Imus’s racist remarks about the Rutgers basketball team, has extremely close ties to Hillary. Media Matters had been after Imus for months because of his treatment of Hillary, noting as far back as May 2006 that he had referred to her as “Satan” and a “witch.” Media Matters called this attempted humor a “smear” and urged its followers to contact MSNBC and “take action” and protest.
It didn’t matter that Imus specialized in insults that were laughed at or dismissed by most people, including his victims. In the Media Matters world, where Hillary rules, you are not supposed to say anything seriously or comically critical of the former First Lady.
While NBC News is claiming that black news personnel played a critical role in getting Imus fired, and that network executives responded to them with interest and sensitivity, it was a white liberal, Keith Olbermann, who boasted on his own MSNBC “Countdown” show on April 11 that he told his bosses “behind the scenes” that a decision to remove Imus “had to be made.” Olbermann is a Clinton sycophant who specializes in attacking others who are perceived to be too tough on the Clintons, both Bill and Hillary, and other Democrats. But he has some leverage at the network, based on having recently signed a new four-year contract.
The New Targets
It was during this program, while interviewing Jesse Jackson, that Olbermann provided a new list of targets. He told Jackson that “Don Imus was not alone among those who have made remarks like this, let me go through a few names and then ask you a question in terms of momentum, in terms of fairness.” He then cited:
“Comments by people like Rush Limbaugh, who calls Senator Barack Obama and actress Halle Berry, quote, ‘halfrican-Americans.’ Michael Savage, who asked whether the Voting Rights Act, intended to counteract racial discrimination at the ballot box, was trying to, quote, ‘put a chad in every crack house.’ There’s Neil Boortz, the other radio talker, who said the black congressman Cynthia McKinney looked, quote, ‘like a ghetto slut.’ Glenn Beck from CNN and ABC, who referred to the largely African-American survivors of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans as, quote, ‘scumbags,’ and who, when he interviewed the Black Muslim congressman, Keith Ellison, from Minnesota, said he felt like saying to him, ‘Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies.’ Where is the protest, where have you been, why are there not efforts to remove them from the air for these things?”
In response, Jackson agreed that “The air is toxic” and said that “The momentum to detoxify the airwaves to create a higher decency standard for our children, must apply across the board.”
The same day, April 11, Al Franken, who is running for the Senate in Minnesota as a Democrat, was on CNN’s Larry King Live, endorsing the firing of Imus and asking CNN to fire Glenn Beck for questioning the loyalty to the U.S. of Muslim Rep. Keith Ellison. Franken went on to say, “And I hear this kind of thing a lot of time. I monitored a lot of right-wing radio when I was doing my show and before it. And I’ve heard Rush Limbaugh say things that are worse than this.”
The next day, Media Matters was out with a list of targets and alleged bigoted and sexist quotes, citing the names on Olbermann’s list and adding Ann Coulter and Tucker Carlson, now on MSNBC. The Free Press, the George Soros-funded group behind the “National Conference on Media Reform,” issued an “action alert” declaring that “getting rid of Imus won’t fix the media problem,” that Imus was “just the tip of the iceberg,” and that “Scores of other TV and radio hosts regularly make racist and sexist comments.” The liberal Huffington Post website followed with a front-page story that accused O’Reilly and Limbaugh of making disparaging comments about minorities.
O’Reilly was so concerned about the charge, based on his on-air reference to “Mexican wetbacks” during a discussion of illegal immigration, that he brought Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post on his radio show to agree that it was not a racist comment. O’Reilly said he had “misspoke” and that he meant to use the word “coyotes.” Kurtz said, “I did not think that you were deliberately trying to insult the Mexican people, if that’s what you’re asking.” O’Reilly replied, “Thank you for your honesty.” O’Reilly played this exchange on his TV show.
Kurtz, who had been a guest on the Imus show, offers the Fox News Channel host a sense of protection from the Media Matters group, often labeled by O’Reilly as a “smear site” that wants “to silence me.”
Another left-wing media watchdog group, Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), published a report insisting that O’Reilly had a history of making racial slurs. Such attacks may help explain why O’Reilly, on the evening of April 18, is scheduled to pay homage to Al Sharpton at his National Action Network Convention. O’Reilly must calculate that the only way to avoid the Imus treatment is to buy protection from the “Reverend.”
Mouthpiece for the Censors
It is highly ironic, however, that Olbermann, who smears people by labeling them as “The Worst” in the world on a nightly basis, should stay on the air in the wake of the Imus firing. I was labeled a “Worst Person in the World” for drawing attention to Democratic Senator and presidential candidate Joseph Biden’s racist comments about Senator Barack Obama. In attacking me, Olbermann falsely claimed that Bush had made similar remarks. The former sportscaster can claim he’s just joking when he identifies someone as “The Worst Person in the World,” but Imus said that he was joking, too. Olbermann’s approach is mean-spirited, amateurish and beneath the dignity of a serious news operation.
Not surprisingly, Media Matters has a direct pipeline into Olbermann’s program. Media Matters President and CEO David Brock has appeared on Olbermann’s show, and Olbermann makes use of Media Matters material. Media Matters, in turn, highlights his attacks on conservatives.
But you don’t have to be a conservative to come under attack by the Olbermann/Media Matters axis. A recent and amusing example is their coordinated attack on Karen Tumulty of Time magazine for writing a piece about Hillary’s political exploitation of the Imus controversy. For daring to suggest that the former First Lady might be using the incident for fundraising purposes, Tumulty was given a “bronze” medal in the “Worst Person In the World” segment.
The working relationship between Olbermann and this left-wing pressure group not only puts in question the “independence” of MSNBC in the Imus matter but the ability of Olbermann and his producers to come up with original and fresh material. Of course, NBC News correspondent Dennis Murphy didn’t mention any of this in his “inside story” about Imus’s downfall. What a convenient and interesting omission.
A Troubled Childhood
Brock’s 2002 book, Blinded by the Right, is quite extraordinary in that it begins with a prologue admitting that the author was responsible for telling “lies” and ruining reputations. Assuming some parts of the book are true, at least those concerning Brock personally, it describes a young man struggling with an immoral lifestyle. Writing about college, for example, he says, “With some hesitation, during my freshman year, I went on uneasy dates and had hurried sexual encounters with other guys in neighboring dorms.” Later, he writes that he would go “out to bars looking for one-night hookups with some frequency, always by myself, very late at night, with few knowing, and no one caring, who I was.”
Today, out of the closet and a certified “progressive” activist with money from the Clinton machine, George Soros, and other big-name liberals, some people know who Brock is because his group has emerged as the moral arbiter, along with Al Sharpton, of what should or should not be said on the airwaves. It would be laughable were it not so serious for the future of freedom of speech and broadcasting in this country.
In fact, some of the Media Matters complaints about the media are comical. It once urged people to protest when Bill O’Reilly of Fox News reportedly said that he wished that Hurricane Katrina had flooded the United Nations building in New York “and I wouldn’t have rescued them.” This joke was denounced as “hate speech” by Brock, who said that the comment “does not belong on America’s airwaves” and is “wrong and un-American.” Media Matters called attention to a letter from Tim Wirth, head of the Ted Turner-financed U.N. Foundation, who called for a “public apology” from O’Reilly.
But if the problem was merely that Media Matters simply had no sense of humor, the organization itself could be dismissed with a laugh. Instead, however, it has a big problem with truth-telling and follows in Brock’s footsteps by trying to ruin people and reputations.
My only encounter with Brock came when he was a conservative and wanted help with an article he was writing about the left-wing Christic Institute. I had researched the organization extensively and had debated its leader on C-SPAN. I provided much of my research to Brock, who came into my office on the condition that he credit me in his piece. He did not. I learned then that he could not be trusted.
Years later, when he became an ex-conservative, his Media Matters group published an item falsely implying that I had fabricated a letter from the Afghan Ambassador. You can read about this case here and here. The Brock group rushed into print with this defamatory item without checking the facts beforehand. Then it refused to retract or apologize after being caught. Like Brock, the organization can’t be trusted to say or do what is right.
The Soros Connection
In the same vein, the organization tries to mislead and confuse people about its connection to George Soros, the left-wing billionaire convicted of inside trading in France, and who finances the ACLU, the Drug Policy Alliance, and other such groups. Although Media Matters receives funding from the so-called Democracy Alliance, which is funded by George Soros, it falsely claims that it has “never received funding” from him. It had previously denied receiving funding “directly” from him. The group defends Soros, describing him merely as a “progressive philanthropist,” about as frequently as it defends Hillary.
The funding of Media Matters through the Democracy Alliance adds another layer of media protection for the controversial billionaire, as AIM has documented in a special report on how he has put millions of dollars into “investigative reporting” and news organizations. Such payments guarantee that the news groups won’t target Soros for scrutiny.
Prominent members of the Democracy Alliance, in addition to Soros, include insurance magnate Peter Lewis, another supporter of drug legalization who was arrested in New Zealand several years ago after customs officers found marijuana in his luggage. The Democracy Alliance was started by Rob Stein, a former Clinton official.
Demonstrating the sensitivity of receiving money from Soros, Media Matters admits receiving money from “donors” to the Democracy Alliance but claims, in the face of the evidence about how the organization is run, that it doesn’t take any money from Soros himself. This is an untenable and false position to assert, as published reports about the organization in the Washington Post and even The Nation magazine have never indicated that Soros money has been segregated so as not to go to certain groups like Media Matters.
Links to the Democratic Party
The connections of Media Matters to the Democratic Party are also substantial, suggesting that the organization functions largely as a Democratic Party front. The group’s “senior adviser,” Dennis Yedwab, served as the director of strategic resources at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and research director at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Other staffers have come from the Al Gore campaign, the Clinton-Gore 1996 Committee, the ACLU, the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, and the Soros-funded Center for American Progress (which also gave Media Matters some office space when it was being formed). John Podesta, president and CEO of the Center for American Progress, served as chief of staff to President Clinton from October 1998 until January 2001.
Katie Barge, the former director of research for Media Matters, became research director for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), only to resign under fire when she was alleged to have participated in an effort to fraudulently obtain a credit report on Maryland’s Republican Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, who was running for the U.S. Senate. Her subordinate at the DSCC, Lauren B. Weiner, was charged with a crime in the case but there was no explanation of why Barge was not. Barge is now a spokesperson for a left-wing Christian group opposed to the Iraq war and director of communications strategy for a religious-left organization known as Faith in Public Life. Her official bio carefully omits any mention of her role in the scandal involving Steele’s credit report.
As we point out in our special report, “Left-wing Censorship Campaign Targets Conservative Media,” Media Matters appears to be playing the same role as Group Research, Inc., the Democratic Party front that was used to help the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations target conservative radio broadcasters using the Fairness Doctrine in the 1960s. But Media Matters has scored a major success in the Imus case even without the Fairness Doctrine.
Imus Vs. Hillary
Although Imus was not a conservative, he was a critic of Hillary Clinton. And that made him a target for Media Matters.
As the Media Matters/Olbermann attack on Tumulty suggests, the Imus affair is all about politics and protecting Hillary. Imus, who endorsed and opposed candidates for office, including the presidency, was considered very influential. That is why so many politicians went on his show. He was beginning to emerge as a major thorn in the side of Hillary, just as her competition with Senator Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination was heating up.
While Imus had allowed Obama to come on his show, he had steadfastly refused to permit Senator Clinton to appear. Imus had been on the outs with the Clintons for many years, with some of the hostility stemming from his performance at the Radio/TV Correspondents Association Annual Dinner in 1996. Among other things, Imus had made fun of the former president’s womanizing.
Before he was fired by NBC News and CBS last week, one of Imus’s sidekicks regularly imitated Bill Clinton on the air, reminding people of how this potential First Husband had become a first-class national embarrassment and disgrace when he was having sexual relations with a former White House intern and lied about it. It was one of the truly funny bits on the show.
If you think the Hillary connection to the Imus firing is a stretch, consider the fact that David Brock wrote a sympathetic book about Hillary during the time of his transition from closeted homosexual to ex-conservative.
A Relationship with Hillary’s Press Aide
As Reed Irvine and I noted in an article back in 2002, “Brock got a million-dollar advance for a book on Hillary Clinton, but while writing it, he underwent a transformation. Instead of an exposé, the book was so soft on Hillary that it bombed. In two Esquire articles, Brock repudiated his Clinton muckraking and apologized to the president. His flip-flop appears to have been related to the close relationship that Brock, a closeted homosexual, established with Hillary’s openly gay press secretary, Neel Lattimore.” The Advocate, a homosexual magazine, had described Lattimore as one of Hillary’s “closest confidants” during her White House years.
This is the same Neel Latimore, according to the September 7, 2006, article by Glenn Thrush of Newsday, who would become “special projects director” for Media Matters.
Thrush also reported that “Kelly Craighead, one of the Clinton’s closest friends, served as one of Brock’s top advisers during Media Matters’ formation in 2004. She was paid as part of a $202,781 contract with the consulting company of her husband, Erick Mullen, tax records obtained by Newsday show.” Craighead had served as assistant to President Clinton and director of the advance team for then-First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton. It is reported that when Craighead married political consultant Erick Mullen, a former aide to Senator Charles Schumer, in 2001, Hillary Clinton performed the civil ceremony. Mullen was an informal senior advisor to Mrs. Clinton’s run for the Senate in 2000.
The Hillary Network
More recently, Lattimore has emerged as an official spokesman for the Children’s Defense Fund, headed by longtime Hillary friend Marian Wright Edelman. Hillary had served on the Board of Editors of Yale Law Review and Social Action and had interned with Edelman. After graduating from Yale, Hillary served as an adviser to the Children’s Defense Fund and then as its chairperson from 1986 to 1992.
It is significant that, at this week’s National Action Network Convention, hosted by Al Sharpton, the Friday “Women’s Luncheon” will be featuring Senator Clinton and Marian Wright Edelman.
For her part, Mrs. Clinton had denounced Imus’s Rutgers comments as “bigotry and coarse sexism,” adding, “I’ve never wanted to go on his show and I certainly don’t ever intend to go on his show, and I felt that way before his latest outrageous, hateful, hurtful comments.”
For his part, Obama denounced Imus and called for his firing. He had to do this, considering the pressure on Imus being exerted by Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. But Obama may have lost a valuable ally. Imus had supported John Kerry for president in 2004 and regularly denounced Bush Administration officials as “war criminals” for their conduct of the Iraq War. His views on Iraq were in tune with those of Obama and, despite his long-time backing for Republican Senator John McCain, Imus may have been laying the groundwork for supporting Obama, at least in the Democratic presidential primaries, in 2008.
Perhaps that is the main reason why, after years of insulting scores of people, with the quiet acquiescence of so many in the liberal media, the latest insult was seized upon and proved to be his undoing. In terms of who benefits politically from Imus going off the air, Hillary Clinton emerges above all others, even above Sharpton and Jackson.
Media Matters, which openly supports the return of the so-called Fairness Doctrine in order to muzzle conservatives, will now move on to its next target. One thing is certain: it will be a political opponent of Senator Clinton.
Cliff Kincaid is Editor of Accuracy in Media.