Liberal media watchdog group Media Matters once contemplated harassing Fox News employees with yard signs in their neighborhoods, hiring private investigators to dig into their personal lives and retaining a “major law firm” to study legal action against the network, according to a report Tuesday in the Daily Caller.
The report cited a September 2009 memo from Media Matters contributor Karl Frisch to Media Matters bosses David Brock and Eric Burns.
It’s unclear to what extent the organization, a 501(c)3 tax-exempt nonprofit group, followed through on the detailed suggestions, but they would appear to comport with Brock’s early 2011 claim that he planned to prosecute a “war on Fox.”
The tactics floated by Frisch were likened to a “presidential-style campaign,” one which he hoped would “discredit and embarrass the network.”
He suggested hiring “trackers” to “stake out” events with Fox News employees, sending “anti-Fox News literature” to employees’ homes and even convincing director Michael Moore to make a documentary about the network. Frisch also suggested establishing a “front group” of shareholders to target parent company News Corporation.
At least one of the ideas appears to have come to fruition — a suggestion that Media Matters publish an anti-Fox News book under Brock’s name. “The Fox Effect,” co-written by Brock and the Media Matters organization, is due for release next week.
The memo is the latest revelation in a Daily Caller series about Media Matters’ campaign against Fox News. The online news outlet also reported that when ex-Politico writer Ben Smith wrote about Media Matters’ “war” in 2011, he left out certain parts of a 2010 Media Matters planning memo.
The memo, according to the Daily Caller, also suggested targeting the libertarian Cato Institute and conservative Heritage Foundation, as well as Republican officials like House GOP Leader Eric Cantor, and websites including Newsmax.
Smith, who now works at the website BuzzFeed, has since posted most of the memo online, minus a five-page budget section that Smith said he never received.
A former Media Matters employee told the Daily Caller that several mainstream media reporters were known to reliably incorporate Media Matters items in their own reporting. Smith, the source said, would “take stories and write what you want him to write.”
Politico frequently picked up Media Matters items in its articles, a rough list of which can be seen here.
Smith has defended his own work, tweeting that he’s both “used … & rejected tips from MM, just as from conservatives.”
Politico continues to write about Fox News, as recently as Tuesday offering a top story on its web site about what it deemed a course correction leftward in Fox News’ political reporting. The outlet’s media blogger, Dylan Byers, who used to work for Smith, also wrote two rebuttals to the DC story on Monday suggesting that the piece and DC founder Tucker Carlson, a principal writer in the Media Matter series, did not back up the criticism of Politico with examples and was not accurately reporting the story.