At Slate, Dave Weigel analyzes the changing focus of Media Matters, which he says is a response to attacks from conservative groups:
Conservatives had always claimed that Media Matters was an attack-dog group, not an accuracy group—so it became an attack group. Conservatives claimed that the group was funded by George Soros when it wasn’t, so in October 2010 it accepted $1 million from Soros, who asked that Media Matters “hold Fox News accountable.” Slowly, Media Matters became what the right claimed it had always been. It was like watching Bruce Banner get picked on until his eyes turned green and he started smashing things.
Maybe. But the majority of the blame can’t fall on conservatives. The changing media environment has made many of the old media watchdog tactics irrelevant. These organizations were created to point out bias or misinformation on the networks and in major newspapers, but now it’s the outrageous comments from left-wing (or right-wing) opinion shows that get the most attention.
Peddling in outrage is what Media Matters has done best – most of its coverage is devoted to catching right-wing pundits and radio hosts saying the sort of things that get liberals incensed. And what’s that anger necessarily channeled toward? Not toward writing a letter to Rush Limbaugh’s producer, or asking Glenn Beck to issue a correction, or lobbying Fox News to provide more balance to its nightly line-up. These things would all be pretty pointless anyway, and liberals can already get news coverage more to their liking from MSNBC or the Huffington Post.
The anger is channeled toward getting Beck fired or taking down Fox News. Because even though Media Matters readers don’t watch these shows, others still do – and that’s unacceptable.
Not to mention, announcing “guerilla warfare” and commercial “sabotage” against Fox News is the kind of thing that pulls in donors. And opposition research – at least if it dredges up anything of interest – leads to the sort of stories that pull in the web traffic. So while the Media Matters campaign against Fox is far from noble, it’s not a surprise that it’s going in that direction.