Fox News Goes After Media Matters' Tax-Exempt Status

Fox News is going on the offensive against its nemesis, the liberal think tank Media Matters. Over the past ten days, the network has run more than 30 segments calling for Media Matters to be stripped of its non-profit tax status.

This level of coordinated activism by the network bolsters Media Matters' contention that Fox is a political organization. Ironically, Fox's complaint against Media Matters is the latter's claim that Fox is a mouthpiece for the Republican Party:

Its argument was first laid out in a June 22 column in the Washington Times by C. Boyden Gray, George H. W. Bush’s White House counsel, who cited two actions by Media Matters: its “unsupported” claims about Fox News being the voice of the Republican Party; and a “sophisticated Democratic-leaning media training boot camp” sponsored by the group that, in essence, Gray said, provided support to the Democratic Party.

“The declaration of war itself is a rhetorical device,” said Gray, a former Fox News consultant. “But when you go further and make allegations that are not substantiated, then it slips into ‘Wow, this looks like it’s for and in support of the Democratic party…It’s absurd to say that Fox is the Republican Party. There’s no factual basis for that.” [Politico]

Alleging that Fox is a mouthpiece for the GOP is an assertion of fact, or well-supported opinion. It's hardly an incursion into electoral politics.

In One of Fox's top anchors, Chris Wallace, has said repeatedly that his network will profit from the Republican presidential primaries because the network "owns" so many of the leading candidates.

"As I said on [Jon Stewart's show], because we own all of the people who are running for president, we're going to turn it into a 13-week series, like Dancing with the Stars or something," Wallace said last year on Imus in the Morning.

Indeed, according to a report by Media Matters, Fox gave GOP presidential hopefuls the equivalent of $55 million of free advertising over the course of 85 hours of friendly airtime to promote their political views. That's in addition to the paid commentator gigs that many candidates enjoy.

To learn more about Fox News and the GOP check out Tim Dickinson's Rolling Stone cover story, "How Roger Ailes Built the Fox News Fear Factory."

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