Thursday, September 20, 2012

Media Matters: Obama Administration Mouthpiece

by Arnold Ahlert

The Obama administration apparently has yet another burgeoning scandal to add to its already long list. Emails obtained by the Daily Caller reveal that there has been regular collaboration between Department of Justice staff and the left-wing advocacy group Media Matters for America. Dozens of communications that the Caller obtained via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request demonstrate that DOJ Office of Public Affairs Director Tracy Schmaler was coordinating efforts with Media Matters to attack reporters who covered various DOJ scandals. “We received a massive amount of these communiques that indicate direct coordination between the Obama Justice Department…and Media Matters to subvert news stories,” Daily Caller editor Tucker Carlson said Tuesday. “This proves coordination.”

The first attempt at such subversion concerns the New Black Panther voter intimidation case that was dropped by the DOJ, a move subsequently revealed as blatantly political. So much so that a judge awarded attorney fees to Judicial Watch because the DOJ had stonewalled the release of documents demonstrating that political appointees within the Department squelched the case, and that Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez lied under oath when he denied it during a hearing conducted by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

The dropping of that case led former DOJ attorney J. Christian Adams to tender his resignation in protest of the DOJ’s “racially motivated” reasons for doing so. The DOJ was also heavily criticized by Hans A. von Spakovsky, Senior Legal Fellow at the Heritage Foundation and former Federal Election Commission commissioner, who also concluded that the “fix was in at the Justice Department in its internal investigation of the New Black Panther Party case.”

Emails sent in September and November 2010 show Schmaler working with Media Matters staffer Jeremy Holden, who obliged Schmaler with an article published Sept. 20, 2010 criticizing both men for what he called an attempt “to reignite the phony New Black Panther Party scandal.” Prior to his posting of that article, Holden received several emails from Schmaler detailing ways to attack the men. Holden reiterated his attack against Adams in a subsequent article November 18, 2010. Former DOJ attorney Christopher Coates, who, like Adams, testified before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights that the dismissal of the Black Panther case was racially motivated, was also attacked by Holden. In response, Schmaler sent Holden an email titled “Great piece…”

The next scandal that needed squelching was the Fast and Furious gun-walking fiasco. The DOJ allowed guns to “walk” into the hands of Mexican drug cartel members, and Border Agent Brian Terry was killed as a direct result of that malfeasance. The subsequent investigation into who knew what and when remains ongoing, due to the DOJ’s refusal to hand over documents subpoenaed by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The standoff burgeoned into a full-blown confrontation, when President Obama invoked executive privilege to prevent the documents from being released, and Attorney General Eric Holder was subsequently held in contempt of Congress.

This time Media Matters’ Mark Gertz coordinated with Schmaler. On July 8, 2011, he wrote to Schmaler asking for her help “debunking what I think is a conservative media myth about Operation Fast and Furious” further noting that “Xochitl directed me to you as the person to talk to.” Xochitl Hinojosa is a DOJ spokeswoman–and a former Media Matters staffer. Gertz was apparently alarmed. “Several media outlets, including Fox News this morning, are claiming that Fast and Furious was paid for with stimulus dollars,” he wrote to Schmaler. “My research suggests that this is not true, and I was hoping you’d be able to confirm that,” further noting that he had to have the information quickly because the controversy was “likely to snowball if it isn’t stopped.”

The two remained in contact throughout media coverage of the scandal, including a Jan. 31, 2012 email chain titled “per our conversation,” during which Schmaler and Gertz collaborated on an article attacking House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa. Another effort initiated by Schmaler was aimed at orchestrating an attack against Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips for his public comments aimed at getting Republicans to take action on the gunwalking scandal. During a Fox News interview, Phillips said Fast and Furious “should be investigated, but we also have to remember the program itself was a partisan program.” Schmaler sent a transcript of the interview to Gertz with the talking points, noting that gun-walking had also been attempted during the Bush administration.

On the same day this exchange was taking place, Media Matters’ Chris Brown wrote a piece criticizing Phillips for referring “to Fast and Furious as a ‘partisan program’ despite the fact that Bush-era investigations featured similar ‘gun walking’ tactics as those used in Fast and Furious.” However, unlike Fast and Furious, the scope of the Bush program “Operation Wide Receiver” was far smaller, specific safeguards such as RFID chips were planted in the guns to keep track of them, the Mexican government was kept in the loop, and finally, no one died as a result of the program. As the Caller notes, within minutes of Brown’s piece appearing online, Schmaler sent an email to Gertz with the full text of the blog under the title “FYI.”

With respect to the bigger picture, the Daily Caller further revealed that there are “numerous examples” of Gertz and Media Matters staffers sending the DOJ full texts of blog entries attacking those in the media who challenged the DOJ. Those who were attacked include Townhall’s Katie Pavlich, writers Joel Pollak and Ken Klukowski; Fox News Channel’s William LaJeunesse, Judge Andrew Napolitano, Megyn Kelly, Martha MacCallum, Bill Hemmer, Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity; Sipsey Street Irregulars blogger Mike Vanderboegh; DirectorBlue blogger Doug Ross; National Review’s Andrew C. McCarthy; and the Daily Caller’s Matthew Boyle, who broke this story.

The conclusions to be drawn from these email exchanges are obvious. Media Matters purports to be a “progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media.” In reality, Media Matters is little more than a mouthpiece for the Democrat Party’s agenda in general, and a virtual public relations firm for the Obama administration’s agenda in particular. And when the mainstream media pick up their cues from Media Matters, which they frequently do, the unseemliness of the relationship, not to mention the Obama administration’s influence on the press, is only further compounded. That kind of unholy alliance isn’t about “correcting” misinformation. It’s about creating it.

Arnold Ahlert


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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