The Daily Caller's new critical look at Media Matters made a splash this morning but not enough to prompt responses from its subjects. The 2,700-word article suggests a range of independent reporters are in bed with the left-wing watchdog group but nobody is too concerned about beating back the allegations.
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In the story, current and former Media Matters employees brag about the ease in which they would manipulate reporters, including The Washington Post's Greg Sargent, BuzzFeed's Ben Smith, The Huffington Post's Sam Stein, the Los Angeles Times' Jim Rainey, and The San Francisco Chronicle's Joe Garofoli:
“If you can’t get it anywhere else, Greg Sargent’s always game,” agreed another source with firsthand knowledge. Reached by phone, Sargent declined to comment.
“The HuffPo guys were good, Sam Stein and Nico [Pitney],” remembered one former staffer. “The people at Huffington Post were always eager to cooperate, which is no surprise given David’s long history with Arianna [Huffington].”
“Jim Rainey at the LA Times took a lot of our stuff,” the staffer continued. “So did Joe Garofoli at the San Francisco Chronicle ... “Ben Smith [formerly of Politico, now at BuzzFeed.com] will take stories and write what you want him to write,” explained the former employee, whose account was confirmed by other sources. Staffers at Media Matters “knew they could dump stuff to Ben Smith, they knew they could dump it at Plum Line [Greg Sargent’s Washington Post blog], so that’s where they sent it.”
The reporters are said to have declined to comment on the claims in the story. The Atlantic Wire reached out to them this morning but none have responded. We asked Media Matters for a response but they declined to comment. On background, an employee noted that the timing of the piece by The Caller's editor-in-chief Tucker Carlson, a Fox News contributor, comes a week before Media Matters founder David Brock's new book attacking Fox News,The Fox Effect: How Roger Ailes Turned a Network into a Propaganda Machine, hits store shelves.
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As for why no one is responding to The Daily Caller's story, a few reasons come to mind. A) The anonymous allegations of being in bed with a partisan watchdog group are viewed as beneath the reporters in question; B) Giving any oxygen to the story will only increase its impact and exposure; or, C) though unlikely, the reporters are not bothered by the allegations.
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On the part of Media Matters, it likely declined due to how personal the attacks were against its founder David Brock (they include reports of him using cocaine, insulting ugly employees, being paranoid and "manic," and drinking heavily).
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But soaking in the overall lack of response from the reporters, The Washington Post's media blogger Erik Wemple makes a valid point. "Speak up, journos — that’s what you ask people to do every day."