Commentary Magazine


The Nixonian Paranoia of David Brock

Reading the Daily Caller’s stellar investigative series into Media Matters, the organization begins to sound less like a left-wing media watchdog and more like a drug cartel in the days before the feds close in. There are armed bodyguards, fears of sniper assassins, enemy lists and talk of sending private eyes to follow around high-profile adversaries. All this at a non-profit organization.

It’s no wonder Media Matters’ head David Brock comes off as an unhinged paranoid in the story. When you stake your career on dirty tricks and smear tactics, you start expecting everyone else is out to do the same to you. As the Caller reports, Media Matters was apparently so obsessed with digging up dirt on Fox News it considered hiring detectives to track its employees. To Brock, the declaration that his organization was at “war with Fox News” wasn’t hyperbole – his personal assistant reportedly carried a Glock to prove it.

But behind the colorful detail, there’s also a serious story about media manipulation. In one memo obtained by the Caller, a top Media Matters staffer writes about its plan to turn the Murdoch phone-hacking scandal into major U.S. news:

In at least two places, the memo makes suggestions that in retrospect look like prescient predictions. The first concerns Rupert Murdoch: “Murdoch’s problems in the U.K. (hacking the cell phones of prominent Brits) are hardly known to U.S. news consumers. We should do our best to bring embarrassing Murdoch news to the attention of his U.S. audience.” The effort appears to have succeeded.

The phone-hacking scandal did start catching on in the U.S., thanks in part to reporting campaigns launched by two prominent and respected nonprofit investigative journalism outlets: Pro Publica and the Center for Public Integrity. Note that both organizations have received extensive funding from George Soros, who also funds Media Matters. Was there any coordination between the three groups? At the very least, this raises questions about the independence of non-profit investigative reporting outlets.