3/28/2011

Is Media Matters breaking the law?

Mark Tapscott at the Washington Examiner raises an interesting question. Media Matters opposed the Supreme Court's United Citizens v. FEC decision. The government wanted the power to ban movies and books because simply the mention of a politician's name constituted a campaign donation. If that is true, shouldn't Media Matters count their activity as political activity? This tax status adds an interesting twist to the discussion.

Media Matters, the George Soros-backed legion of liberal agit-prop shock troops based in the nation's capital, has declared war on Fox News, and in the process quite possibly stepped across the line of legality.

David Brock, MM's founder, was quoted Saturday by Politico promising that his organization is mounting "guerrila warfare and sabotage" against Fox News, which he said "is not a news organization. It is the de facto leader of the GOP, and it is long past time that it is treated as such by the media, elected officials and the public.”

To that end, Brock told Politico that MM will “focus on [News Corp. CEO Rupert] Murdoch and trying to disrupt his commercial interests ..." Murdoch is the founder of Fox News and a media titan with newspaper, broadcast, Internet and other media countries around the world.

There is nothing in the Politico article to suggest that Brock, who was paid just under $300,000 in 2009, according to the group's most recently available tax return, plans to ask the IRS to change his organization's tax status as a 501(C)(3) tax-exempt educational foundation.

Being a C3 puts MM in the non-profit, non-commercial sector, and it also bars the organzation from participating in partisan political activity. This new, more aggressive stance, however, appears to run directly counter to the government's requirements for maintaining a C3 tax status.

Since Brock classifies Fox News as the "leader" of the Republican Party, by his own description he is involving his organization in a partisan battle. High-priced K Street lawyers can probably find a federal judge or a sympathetic IRS bureaucrat willing to either look the other way or accept some sort of MM rationale such as that it is merely providing educational information about a partisan group. . . .

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2 Comments:

Blogger Informed Discontent said...

Very funny. Do you realize that making this argument requires you to admit that Fox is a partisan organization (ala your last paragraph)? Otherwise, how are they breaking the law?

I think if Fox came out and admitted they were a partisan group, Media Matters would probably stop attacking their journalism, since Fox would have already admitted that they don't really care about it.

3/28/2011 7:20 PM  
Blogger John Lott said...

Dear Informed Discontent:
No, I was just taking Media Matters at their word on what they were doing. They are saying that they are doing things to attack Republicans and influence election outcomes. That is what they are saying they are doing. There is the IRS code. Their tax exempt status doesn't allow Media Matters to engage in political activity. Media Matters gets a tax subsidy. Should they?

3/29/2011 2:48 AM  

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