Why Media Matters Is Bad for Liberalism


Mark of New Jersey

Mark is a Founding Editor of The League of Ordinary Gentlemen, the predecessor of Ordinary Times.

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27 Responses

  1. Avatar Sonny Bunch says:

    Would it be fair to describe Media Matters as “gliberals”?Report

  2. Avatar Koz says:

    “This, of course, is a project that liberals have been working on, passionately and righteously, for years. “


    • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Koz says:

      Criminal justice reform in general has pretty clearly been a longstanding passion of the Left – mandatory minimums pop into mind in addition to prison reforms and that sort of thing. There’s a reason conservatives spent so many years going after liberals as “soft on crime,” after all.Report

      • Avatar Koz in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        IIRC, the libs have spent a lot of energy opposing the death penalty and a little bit on opposition to mandatory mininums for drug offenses and such. But overcriminalization of federal law? I associate that with Walter Olson, Radley Balko, etc. Do you disagree?Report

        • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Koz says:

          I would put mandatory minimums and sentencing reform within the purview of overcriminalization.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mark Thompson says:

            I’d say that it depends on the crime.

            There are crimes that get people on the Right to say “well, you see, the real issue, to be sure, if you look at the big picture, the true enemy, you have to understand” and there are crimes that get people on the Left to sound indistinguishable.

            There are crimes that get people on the Right to say “IT’S AN OUTRAGE THAT HE PERPETRATOR IS ONLY GETTING 30 YEARS WITHOUT POSSIBILITY OF PAROLE!!!” and there are crimes that get people on the Left to say the same.

            It depends on the crime.Report

          • Avatar Koz in reply to Mark Thompson says:

            Maybe within the purview, but that glides over quite a bit. Among other things, it’s easy to see why MM would trash Heritage. They’ve built the force of habit over a number of years and have little or no investment in the things they supposedly agree on.

            The trick is to say, without bitterness or invective but as a simple historical argument, that liberals qua liberals have contributed little or nothing to be public welfare (and are contributing nothing now) and assertions to the contrary should be carefully checked out.Report

            • Avatar Dan Miller in reply to Koz says:

              So liberals don’t get credit for civil rights now? Or are you arguing that that didn’t contribute to public welfare?Report

              • Avatar Koz in reply to Dan Miller says:

                “So liberals don’t get credit for civil rights now? Or are you arguing that that didn’t contribute to public welfare?”

                That’s a more complicated subject than most liberals tend to think. What’s not complicated is that most of the key events took place 40+ years ago, and are not directly relevant in our collective memory today.Report

        • Avatar Patrick in reply to Koz says:

          The point isn’t Heritage’s position on overcriminalization versus that of Media Matters. The point is the dishonest and sleazy attack. Does anyone think Heritage “sticks up for [supports] violent sex offenders”? The left has called the right on this sort of thing for decades, taking one statement out of context to misrepresent the speaker’s views as somehow beyond the pale. If people on the left are going to cite Media Matters, they should keep this dishonest attack in mind.

          Of course the right has never had a monopoly on out-of-context dishonesty. The term “Borking” comes to mind. But we should call people on this, whether Glenn Beck or Ted Kennedy, wherever we find them. Of course if one thinks winning an argument (in this case, discrediting people who are political opponents even when they’re correct or pushing one position aligned with “our” side) at all costs is fine, well and good, but that what profit a man to gain the world, if he becomes a hack?

          Thanks for the link, Mark.Report

          • Avatar greginak in reply to Patrick says:

            borking is a great term for keeping a guy like bork who was pretty scary to a lot of folks of the supreme court.

            anyway we can all agree that some people of every stripe engage in poorly thought out or sleazy attacks. but then again i am just an America hating, totalitarian, Stalinist, traitor.

            And i will think about this blog post by MM, everybody should always think through what they are reading, not just completely trust the source. even the best sources can be wrong.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

              When our side does it, it’s something that everyone does.

              When their side does it, it’s a disgrace that people pay attention to people so intellectually dishonest. It makes you wonder whether those people aren’t deliberately being intellectually dishonest themselves.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

                to be precise, i thought there were really good reasons why bork shouldn’t be a supremes. i don’t think attacking his nomination was wrong. it wasn’t a disgrace. ( i’m sure somebody will remind me if i forgot something about that whole scene) Borking is the term cons use to portray how they feel they were unfairly treated.Report

              • Avatar Patrick in reply to greginak says:

                For instance, Senate staffers leaking Bork’s video rental records to the DC City Paper. The argument that Bork believed in a return to segregation (he’d never stated that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 should be struck down, nor that Plessy was rightly decided), and so on and so forth. He clearly thought Roe was wrongly decided (lots of people do, I do though I’m pro-choice), and there was plenty to dislike about the man’s views. But he slimed and his record distorted.

                Of course, that’s a side issue. The issue is whether one can fairly read Overcriminalized as “sticking up for violent sex offenders”. If one can, one can also fairly call Media Matters a site that sticks up for statutory rape. But one can’t in either case, so why not called Media Matters on its conduct here?Report

              • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to greginak says:

                Oh there were plenty of good reasons why Bork shouldn’t have been on the Court, and we’re better off that he failed to get on it. But the way in which he was prevented from getting on the Court (the whole digging through his video-watching habits and drastically misrepresenting his positions thing) didn’t much involve those good reasons.Report

              • Avatar Dave in reply to greginak says:


                Nuff saidReport

              • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Dave says:

                Jan. 22, 2013(AP): President Mitt Romney was given a surprise early victory for his Administration when his attempt to nominate Judge Robert Bork as Attorney General was roundly approved by the Senate. Freshman Sen. Dave (ANP*- State of Confusion) delivered what is believed to be both the shortest and most self-defeating speech in the history of the United States Senate, resulting in every single Democratic Senator changing their votes to Yea in a matter of mere seconds, and Republicans moving immediately for cloture. Sen. Dave was one of initially dozens of Senators opposed to the nomination and asked for but ten seconds to deliver his speech. When his turn to speak arrived, Sen. Dave took the floor and said to the chamber: “I have but one word to say about this nominee: Inkblot.” Suddenly remembering his passionate hatred for the 9th Amendment, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer immediately went into caucus with his fellow Democrats. Approximately 30 seconds later, the Democrats returned to the chamber and Schumer made a surprise motion for cloture on the nomination. To the even greater surprise of all in attendance, the vote on cloture was 99-1 in favor, with only Sen. Dave voting against.

                Judge Bork will be sworn in this afternoon in a ceremony in the DOJ’s recently-renamed (under President Romney’s sponsorship initiative) Blackwater Hall of the Iron Fist.

                *Angry Nihilists PartyReport

  3. Avatar greginak says:

    reading through the stuff a bit it does look like MM has wifed on this one. but i think you are going to far on them, they have a good amount of reasonable points. In fact the MM blog missed the low hanging fruit on this project, they seem to have Hans A. von Spakovsky working on this. Classic wingnut welfare, a guy who was engaged in at the least highly questionable activities and at the most used his job at DOJ to push partisan interests.Report

    • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to greginak says:

      But going after Heritage on this issue is counterproductive to criminal justice reforms that liberals have been passionate about for years since Heritage is staking out ground that is fairly consistent with that longstanding liberal passion. There’s no reason in the world to throw a bunch of ad hominems and distortions to discredit Heritage on this issue when Heritage is, from a liberal standpoint, actually on the side of the angels. Media Matters is first and foremost an anti-conservative organization, not a pro-liberal organization; I would hope this distinction is important to liberals in evaluating MM’s claims, otherwise they risk becoming more anti-conservative than pro-liberal themselves. Freddie has (correctly, I think) spilled a lot of virtual ink about the problems of a conservatism that is premised on anti-liberalism; placing organizations like MM on a pedestal (much as conservatives placed their own media critics on a pedestal) is in my view a not-insignificant mechanism by which this sort of thing happens.Report

  4. Avatar Kyle says:

    hear, hear…and tweeted.

    I’ve been critical of Media Matters for how sloppy they are, but I think you make a good case for how self flattering feel good-ery can negatively impact otherwise well-intentioned do good-ery.Report

  5. Avatar JosephFM says:

    Well, there’s nobody as zealous as a convert, I suppose, and if you’re crazy against one side I guess it’s easier to just become crazy against the other than really reform your thinking.Report