Politics
FILE - In this Sept. 7, 2011 file photo, Attorney General Eric Holder listens to a question about Medicare fraud enforcement at the Justice Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File) FILE - In this Sept. 7, 2011 file photo, Attorney General Eric Holder listens to a question about Medicare fraud enforcement at the Justice Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)  

Fox News: Justice Dept. thinks its collaboration with Media Matters ‘not a big deal’

Photo of Matthew Boyle
Matthew Boyle
Investigative Reporter

The Department of Justice continues to ignore requests for comment in response to the revelation its Office of Public Affairs director Tracy Schmaler has coordinated with left-wing advocacy group Media Matters for America, and is sending signals to at least one media organization that the cabinet agency doesn’t believe the collaboration has great significance.

“We have reached out to the Justice Department for some comment on this,” Fox News Channel anchor Jon Scott said on the air Tuesday morning. “Officially, they are not commenting about it — ‘no comment’ — although they are essentially saying, off the record, that it is not a big deal.”

Emails The Daily Caller obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request and published Tuesday show Schmaler, Holder’s top press defender, and Media Matters staffers working together to attack reporters covering DOJ scandals.

Schmaler and the DOJ have ignored TheDC’s requests for comment on the matter since before the first piece was published. She has also ignored TheDC’s requests asking her to confirm that the DOJ doesn’t think her apparent partnership with Media Matters is a “big deal.”

Media Matters spokeswoman Jess Levin has also ignored requests for comment from TheDC about this story.

Fox News’ James Rosen reported Tuesday afternoon that “a spokesman for Media Matters told me the group would comment only if it was offered a chance to appear live on this network, which is a request this reporter was in no position to grant.”

Levin has ignored follow-up requests from TheDC, including requests to confirm Media Matters threatened that it would only comment live and on the air.

Schmaler may find herself under investigation as a result of these revelations. American Center for Law and Justice chief counsel Jay Sekulow said on Fox News that the DOJ’s internal Office of Professional Responsibility could probe whether she engaged in unethical behavior or misconduct.

“They [Media Matters workers] get the e-mail praising them for the piece — whether it’s information on a hit piece on a former DOJ employee,” Sekulow said. “They [DOJ] have an Office of Professional Responsibility, and I don’t know if Tracy’s a lawyer or not a lawyer, but I will tell you this, the Office of Professional Responsibility should be looking at this because the idea that the Department of Justice is using Media Matters as its proxy — as its front group or its outside, unpaid consultant — to do this is outrageous.”

“And when professional ethics are involved, which raises a serious issue here — and media journalism ethics: the idea that you’re planting stories with Media Matters or giving them information to go after former employees of DOJ, that is over the top and needs to be seriously investigated by the Office of Professional Responsibility inside the DOJ.”

Sekulow suggested Holder also may have approved or encouraged Schmaler’s apparently improper behavior.

“Does it go to Eric Holder?” Sekulow asked. “I mean, who knows, you know?”

“I suspect between now and the election we probably don’t find out. But there are people looking at this now, and I think as long as we stay on it, we need to demand an answer to that. Why is it that Media Matters gets a special relationship with the United States Department of Justice? Somebody needs to be asking that question.”

Schmaler has also ignored TheDC’s requests for comment on whether the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility will be looking into her collaboration with Media Matters.

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