One should never underestimate the stupidity that can emanate from the confines of the offices of Media Matters.
The organization that bills itself as a conservative media watchdog, but really operates as an arm of the DNC and the Obama White House, spends the bulk of its time whining about something a Fox News Channel host or Rush Limbaugh said rather than being an actual “watchdog.”
Their latest salvo was fired against George Will. In a lazy piece written by Ben Dimiero, they argue George Will failed to disclose a recent conflict of interest:
Weeks after appearing at a VIP dinner for the Koch brothers-backed political group Americans for Prosperity (AFP), George Will devoted his Washington Post column to promoting one of the Kochs’ favored political candidates without disclosing the conflict of interest.
Last month, Politico reported on Will’s attendance at a private dinner featuring an “exclusive group of major donors and VIPs” as part of AFP’s Defending the American Dream summit. Despite repeated attempts by Media Matters, neither Will nor AFP would answer whether he had been paid for the appearance or compensated for his travel expenses. Will has repeatedly devoted column space in the past to promoting Koch-backed candidates and policy issues.
When the journalism group Society of Professional Journalists released its new Code of Ethics in September, the group’s ethics chair cited Will’s relationship with AFP — and his refusal to disclose whether he had been paid by the group — as the type of conflict journalists should try to avoid.
Apparently undeterred, in his September 26 column, Will sang the praises of Republican Iowa Senate candidate Joni Ernst — a candidate who has received massive financial support from the Kochs and their political groups — without disclosing his conflict of interest.
This is simply ridiculous. Media Matters often relies on the logical fallacy of appealing to authority to make their “arguments” and they did just the same here. However, that authority isn’t always right and in this case, it’s nit picking at its worst:
Smith said Washington Post columnist George Will attending a private VIP dinner hosted by the Koch-backed conservative group Americans for Prosperity after spending months using his columns to champion the candidates and ideas favored by the Koch brothers and refusing to disclose whether his participation was paid was one of the “most noted examples” of recent transparency failures.
Since when did it become a transparency failure for a conservative political columnist and commentator to support similar ideas and candidates as somebody else?
So George Will supports Joni Ernst. And Media Matters is suggesting Will should have disclosed whether or not he was paid to speak at the Defending The Dream Summit because AFP also supports Ernst’s candidacy?
I am the only one who sees how absurd this is?
Where is the conflict? Had Will headlined a fundraiser for Ernst and was paid for the service and followed that up with a glowing article about her, then there would be an obligation to disclose it. In this case, George Will was asked by a DC based organization to fly out to Texas to deliver remarks. He then writes about Joni Ernst and Media Matters flips their lid because AFP also supports Ernst.
It may come as a shock to some people but it’s pretty common for conservatives to support the same candidates. Seriously, who is Will supposed to support in Iowa? Democrat Bruce Baley? Is anybody surprised he supports Ernst?
One other thing that should be noted. George Will is very open about his ideology. He doesn’t pretend to be non-partisan journalist only to stake out conservative positions on all issues. In contrast to Will, how often does Chuck Todd disclose his ties to the Democrats? He was a staffer on Tom Harkin’s 1992 Presidential campaign and his wife Kristian is a political consultant for Democrats.
Yes, journalists should disclose any potential conflicts of interest when they are writing. But this is not one of them. This just just another lazy attack by Media Matters on a conservative, nothing more.