I’ve become increasingly fascinated by the “Fox News Effect”: Why it is that Fox viewers believe more misinformation about science, and also about politics, as documented in multiple studies. But of course, I’m not the only one who has been pointing this out–so, of course, has David Brock’s organization, Media Matters, the top press watchdog coming from the progressive corner.
Apparently, Media Matters’ attacks are getting under Fox’s skin, and as Politico reports, the network has responded by arguing that Media Matters ought to lose its tax exempt status. One slight problem: that’s a weak legal argument, and one that seems specially designed to serve a political goal–just as Fox’s claims about global warming and other topics often are…just as Media Matters and others have often observed.
Why should Media Matters be tax exempt, a nonprofit? Because while it surely expresses opinions, it is centrally an organization that educates about media bias, and does not directly support campaigns, candidates, or legislation. In this, it is just like umpteen other such organizations in Washington and around the country. It is just like all the conservative think tanks, and all the liberal think tanks, and all the advocacy groups…and on, and on, and on.
Indeed, there is an exact parallel of Media Matters on the right: The non-profit Media Research Center, which calls itself “a 501(C)3 organization whose mission is to educate the public and media on bias in the media.” I don’t think any of these organizations should lose their status…neither those with which I agree, nor those with which I disagree. Rather, I simply think that Fox should stop generating questionable arguments and claims for ideological reasons–both in its treatment of climate science and other factually contested issues, and in its dealing with critics.