Should Media Matters Lose Nonprofit Status for Fighting Fox?

Politico Arena question of the day really hit a nerve with me. We live in such a mediated society that there is no question the media forms us as it informs us. Nor is there any questions of Fox News’s slant. But ownership of the airwaves apparently isn’t enough for this greedy group. Read on, and then share your thoughts.

Arena Question: Fox News is ratcheting up its counterattack against Media Matters, a liberal advocacy group and the network’s most persistent critic. The news channel has recently run more than 30 segments calling for the nonprofit group to be stripped of its tax-exempt status.

Has Media Matter’s reporting on Fox been unfair? And should the self-proclaimed watchdog group lose its nonprofit status?

How I Answered: Oh good grief. Fox going after Media Matters reminds me of the time my sister complained to our mother that I had hit her back.

Fox is a corporate Goliath that uses its powerful franchise of the airways to skew public perception to advantage right-wing political power, and yet it has the hubris to call what it does “fair and balanced.” For giant Fox to attack the tax exempt status of its David-sized critic is as ludicrous as my sister’s complaint.

To begin with, as the legal experts have pointed out, there is the small point of free speech on the side of Media Matters. The Constitution applies regardless of whether an an organization is for profit or not. Equally important, it’s only fair and balanced that the left should have the opportunity to research and respond to news reportage, since in addition to the Fox behemoth, the right has funded nonprofit organizations that criticize the mainstream media for decades. In fact, these conservative groups have prevailed largely by intimidating journalists with the fear of being labeled “liberal” regardless of the veracity of their reportage. If Fox News is so sure of its reporting quality then it should have nothing to fear from its far less well-heeled critics. (NB: here’s one example of a correction of Fox’s fact mangling from Media Matters website.)

But then perhaps the big media bully remembers how the Biblical story ends.

Gloria Feldt is the author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Buy the book here. Engage Gloria for a Speech or Workshop. Tweet @GloriaFeldt and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ Gloria is the co-founder (with Amy Litzenberger) of Take the Lead, a new initiative to prepare and propel women to leadership parity by 2025. Find them @takeleadwomen and on Facebook.