David Brock acknowledges Soros 'generosity' to Media Matters

Thomas Lifson
Media Matters for America, the 501c3 tax exempt organization founded by David Brock after his miraculous transformation from conservative attack dog to left wing attack dog, is responding to charges made by former CBS News correspondent Sharyl Attkisson.

Looking  older than his 51 years, Brock, who has a personal history that includes being committed to a psychiatric hospital, appeared  on the same CNN program on which Attkisson made her charges a week ago. (hat tip: Daily Caller)

Photo via Daily Caller

Questioned by host Brian Stelter, Brock thanked Soros for his generosity, and claimed that only about 10% of the Media Matters budget comes from Soros. How much comes from Soros’s billionaire friends Peter Lewis and Herb and Marion Sandler, who are known to donate in tandem with one another, was left unsaid, and not followed-up upon by Stelter. What follows are relevant portions of the transcripts of each show.

Appearing on CNN’s Reliable Sources on April 20th, Sharyl Attkisson told host Brian Stelter of the pressures leading to the decline in investigative reporting:

ATTKISSON: I think in general, the correspondents will tell you at CBS and other places as well that there is a declining appetite for this [investigative reporting] on the broadcasts. And in some cases, I think it's seen as maybe too much trouble because of the push-back and the organized campaigns that come to bear on us when we're working on these stories and afterwards as well….

ATTKISSON: I do think, again, that's a campaign by those who really want to controversialize the reporting I do so you wouldn't listen to it, because if anybody took a few minutes really just do a Google search, you would see the dozens and dozens of stories I've done that were, in many cases, complemented by liberal press and other liberals as being a very good story, and I have been criticized by the conservative side in the past.

So, I think it wouldn't take -- it wouldn't take much for someone -- 

STELTER: Do you think that's what Media Matters is doing? Media Matters has been campaigning against you and saying you've been inaccurate in your reporting, is that what they're doing? They're just trying to controversialize the issue? 

ATTKISSON: Media Matters, as my understanding, is a far left blog group that I think holds itself out to be sort of an independent watchdog group. And yes, they clearly targeted me at some point. They used to work with me on stories and tried to help me produce my stories, and at some point -- 

STELTER: That's interesting. 

ATTKISSON: Well, I think they call -- don't they call you? I mean, they call journalists and they're trying to -- 

STELTER: Right, they're always emailing things, making us -- 

(CROSSTALK)

STELTER: -- try to act outraged about something, right?

ATTKISSON: And I was certainly friendly with them as anybody, good information can come from any source. But when I persisted with Fast and Furious and some of the green energy stories I was doing, I clearly at some point became a target, that they -- you know, I don't know if someone paid them to do it or if they took it on their own. But they were very much -- 

STELTER: Do you think that's possible that someone paid them? 

ATTKISSON: Well, they get contributions from -- yes, they get contributions from -- 

STELTER: But specifically to target you? 

ATTKISSON: Perhaps, sure. I think that's what some of these groups do, absolutely. 

Yesterday, on the same program, David Brock appeared with the same host, and responded:

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

David, thank you for coming on. 

DAVID BROCK, PRESIDENT, MEDIA MATTERS FOR AMERICA: Thanks for having me. 

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. STELTER: By the way, one of the chief rivals to Media Matters on the right is the Media Research Center. And we tried to book the founder, Brent Bozell, this week. He declined. But we're going to try to have him on in a future week to talk about his group does and doesn't do. 

 

Media Matters for America, the 501c3 tax exempt organization founded by David Brock after his miraculous transformation from conservative attack dog to left wing attack dog, is responding to charges made by former CBS News correspondent Sharyl Attkisson.

Looking  older than his 51 years, Brock, who has a personal history that includes being committed to a psychiatric hospital, appeared  on the same CNN program on which Attkisson made her charges a week ago. (hat tip: Daily Caller)

Photo via Daily Caller

Questioned by host Brian Stelter, Brock thanked Soros for his generosity, and claimed that only about 10% of the Media Matters budget comes from Soros. How much comes from Soros’s billionaire friends Peter Lewis and Herb and Marion Sandler, who are known to donate in tandem with one another, was left unsaid, and not followed-up upon by Stelter. What follows are relevant portions of the transcripts of each show.

Appearing on CNN’s Reliable Sources on April 20th, Sharyl Attkisson told host Brian Stelter of the pressures leading to the decline in investigative reporting:

ATTKISSON: I think in general, the correspondents will tell you at CBS and other places as well that there is a declining appetite for this [investigative reporting] on the broadcasts. And in some cases, I think it's seen as maybe too much trouble because of the push-back and the organized campaigns that come to bear on us when we're working on these stories and afterwards as well….

ATTKISSON: I do think, again, that's a campaign by those who really want to controversialize the reporting I do so you wouldn't listen to it, because if anybody took a few minutes really just do a Google search, you would see the dozens and dozens of stories I've done that were, in many cases, complemented by liberal press and other liberals as being a very good story, and I have been criticized by the conservative side in the past.

So, I think it wouldn't take -- it wouldn't take much for someone -- 

STELTER: Do you think that's what Media Matters is doing? Media Matters has been campaigning against you and saying you've been inaccurate in your reporting, is that what they're doing? They're just trying to controversialize the issue? 

ATTKISSON: Media Matters, as my understanding, is a far left blog group that I think holds itself out to be sort of an independent watchdog group. And yes, they clearly targeted me at some point. They used to work with me on stories and tried to help me produce my stories, and at some point -- 

STELTER: That's interesting. 

ATTKISSON: Well, I think they call -- don't they call you? I mean, they call journalists and they're trying to -- 

STELTER: Right, they're always emailing things, making us -- 

(CROSSTALK)

STELTER: -- try to act outraged about something, right?

ATTKISSON: And I was certainly friendly with them as anybody, good information can come from any source. But when I persisted with Fast and Furious and some of the green energy stories I was doing, I clearly at some point became a target, that they -- you know, I don't know if someone paid them to do it or if they took it on their own. But they were very much -- 

STELTER: Do you think that's possible that someone paid them? 

ATTKISSON: Well, they get contributions from -- yes, they get contributions from -- 

STELTER: But specifically to target you? 

ATTKISSON: Perhaps, sure. I think that's what some of these groups do, absolutely. 

Yesterday, on the same program, David Brock appeared with the same host, and responded:

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

David, thank you for coming on. 

DAVID BROCK, PRESIDENT, MEDIA MATTERS FOR AMERICA: Thanks for having me. 

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. STELTER: By the way, one of the chief rivals to Media Matters on the right is the Media Research Center. And we tried to book the founder, Brent Bozell, this week. He declined. But we're going to try to have him on in a future week to talk about his group does and doesn't do.