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Fox News Going After Media Matters’ Tax-Exempt Status With Questionable Tactics

Reported by Ellen - June 24, 2011 -

On Tuesday (6/21/11), Republican activist C. Boyden Gray published an article in the Washington Times alleging that Fox News nemesis Media Matters is improperly receiving tax-exempt status. I don’t pretend to know the in’s and out’s of tax-exempt statuses. But I do know that Gray, who received something of a demotion on Fox after Media Matters revealed his conflict of interest in acting as a Supreme Court analyst on Fox, is not exactly a disinterested party. I also know that Bill O’Reilly’s subsequent attempt to suggest that President Obama is in cahoots with some kind of attempt to defraud taxpayers was completely unfounded and a transparent effort to up the ante against an organization that he also has a vested interest in taking down. On top of all that, Gray’s appearance on The O’Reilly Factor last night (6/23/11) was nothing less than a thinly-veiled effort to get a viewer to file a complaint against Media Matters with the IRS.

SourceWatch (quoting from a 1997 article in The New Republic) says about Gray, “So many different money trails lead to, by and through Gray it is bewildering." Just about every one of those trails, if not every single one, is connected to a Republican and/or conservative cause.

It’s entirely possible that Gray just came up with his concern about Media Matters’ tax-exempt status on his own, as an interested citizen. But even if that were the case, he’s not likely to be impartial toward them. In 2005, in the wake of Sandra Day O’Connor’s resignation from the Supreme Court, Media Matters objected to Gray working as a “Supreme Court analyst” on Fox News because at the same time Gray was also involved with a group created to help then-President George W. Bush get his judicial nominees confirmed. On July 1, 2005, Media Matters’ David Brock wrote to Fox demanding that Gray be removed from his position. Four days later, Media Matters noted that Gray had been “demoted” to “contributor” status.

But somehow, the producers of the “we report, you decide” network’s O’Reilly Factor didn’t feel the need to relay that history to their viewers. Instead, host Bill O’Reilly introduced Gray as “former White House Counsel under President Bush the elder.”

O’Reilly kind of tipped his hand early in the interview when he described Media Matters as “the vicious, and I mean vicious far-left website… in business to hurt the Fox News Channel and other perceived conservative concerns.” He later upped the ante to say Media Matters was on a “crusade against conservative Americans.”

If O’Reilly is so sure that Fox News is truly fair and balanced, you’d think he and the rest of the crew there would be falling over themselves to discredit Media Matters – and folks like us – by proving their fairness and lack of bias. So it’s pretty telling that instead of doing that they’re trying to get at the organization through the IRS. “So the IRS, I guess, is the agency that should revoke their status immediately, correct?” O’Reilly "asked."

Gray agreed and added suggestively, “Someone should file an application or letter with them to question this – I don’t think it should be Fox – but someone should and I suspect after these stories that are being run, that probably will (happen) and then we’ll see what the IRS does.”

O’Reilly did note “to be fair – and we always want to be that” (even though a graphic of George Soros with the description “far left billionaire” had just appeared on the screen) that Media Matters was originally granted its tax-exempt status during the George W. Bush administration.

Gray defended that decision partly by saying it had been made at the “tail end” of the Bush administration. That’s totally wrong because Media Matters began shortly before our blog did – in May, 2004, more than four years before the “tail end” of the Bush years.

But that didn’t stop O’Reilly from suggesting that somehow Obama is complicit in defrauding the taxpayers. “Do you think it is that the Obama administration is actively knows about this and wants this to happen?”

Gray said, “It should know and after this broadcast it will know about it.”

And in case you hadn’t already guessed, Gray added, “That’s the point, I think, of writing about it and speaking about it.”

O’Reilly repeated the “suggestion” that “What has to happen now is that some American or a group has to file an objection with the IRS,” but he went on to complain that it would “take years.”

Not so, according to Gray. If that does turn out to be the case, he recommended going into court “to force a little action in that way.”

By the way, Gray's article was also showcased on Fox Nation.

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