Politics

Inside Media Matters: Sources, memos reveal erratic behavior, close coordination with White House and news organizations

Media Matters also began a weekly strategy call with the White House, which continues, joined by the liberal Center for American Progress think tank. Jen Psaki, Obama’s deputy communications director, was a frequent participant before she left for the private sector in October 2011.

Every Tuesday evening, meanwhile, a representative from Media Matters attends the Common Purpose Project meeting at the Capitol Hilton on 16th Street in Washington, where dozens of progressive organizations formulate strategy, often with a representative from the Obama White House.

In the past several years, Media Matters has focused much of its considerable energy on the Fox News Channel. The network, declares one internal memo, “is the de facto leader of the GOP and it is long past time that it was treated as such by the media, elected officials, and the public.” At the end of September 2009, Burns made the case publicly in an interview on MSNBC.

Fox, he said, “is a political organization, and their aim is to destroy a progressive policy agenda.”

Less than a month later, in language that could have been copied directly from a Media Matters press release, White House communications director Anita Dunn leveled almost precisely the same charge, dismissing Fox as “more a wing of the Republican Party.”

Were the lines of attack coordinated? “To my knowledge, there wasn’t coordination,” says a source. But at times there has seemed to be a kind of mind meld between the Obama political team and Media Matters.

WASHINGTON - MAY 4, 2010: (AFP OUT) U.S. President Barack Obama with senior advisor and assistant to the president for Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs Valerie Jarrett. FILE (Photo by Ron Sachs-Pool/Getty Images)

During the 2008 presidential campaign, for example, author Jerome Corsi wrote a highly critical book about the Democratic candidate, titled “The Obama Nation.” The Obama campaign responded immediately with a detailed memo. The title of that memo, “Unfit For Publication” (a play on Corsi’s 2004 book, “Unfit for Command,” about then-presidential candidate Senator John Kerry), was the same title used by Media Matters just weeks before in a similar memo about the same book.

The irony of Brock’s relationship with the White House is that at certain points he has been openly hostile to Barack Obama, especially in conversations in social settings. Described by some who know him as a passionate and emotional Hillary Clinton supporter, many Democrats believe Brock maintained regular contact with the highest levels of Clinton’s campaign and its advisers.

As late as 2010, Brock was still exchanging personal emails with longtime Hillary Clinton consigliore Sidney Blumenthal, in which the two seemed to grouse about Obama and bond over their shared connection to Hillary.

The intensity of the 2008 campaign, say those who knew Brock at the time, seemed to exacerbate his bouts of what appeared to be mania, a condition from which he had apparently suffered for some time. In 2002, the Drudge Report reported that Brock had “suffered a breakdown” the year before and was treated in the psychiatric ward of Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington.