David Brock was once a young college student who got sucked into the vortex of the conservative movement. Once inside, he stretched and twisted the truth to go after his clique’s enemies, writing attack pieces on Anita Hill, Bill Clinton, and others.

Several years ago, he began to realize he’d gone wrong and he finally told his story in Blinded by the Right. Earlier this year he published The Republican Noise Machine which tells the larger story of a well-funded conservative apparatus with the aim of pulling the media to the right with phony charges of “liberal bias”, alternative news outlets pumping their disinformation, and the production of misleading reports and studies from conservative think tanks that the press can just drop in their reports.

But apologizing and explaining wasn’t enough for him and not long afterwards he launched Media Matters for America, a not-for-profit which uploads clips of conservative misinformation with detailed reubuttals and corrections in near-real-time. The site has already had a serious impact, most recently by getting Republican pollster Frank Luntz fired from his post as a suppposedly-neutral MSNBC analyst, thanks to letter-writing of their action network.

(Book cover)The Media Matters Action Network recently published their first book, Misstating the State of the Union. The book lays out, in unrelenting detail, how conservative pundits relentlessly lie about the effects of policies on our country in every area. One of the most amazing themes in the book is how frequently conservatives get things completely backwards, as when the Wall Street Journal gave Attorney General Ashcroft credit for the decline in gun violence under the Clinton administration. These kinds of errors are made again and again.

To discuss the book and related topics, I had the privilege of interviewing David Brock himself:

Q: What are your goals for the book? Correcting the record? Shaming the media?

David Brock: Misstating the State of the Union was written to provide consumers and producers of news with concrete examples of how conservatives have systematically denied the proven success of progressive policies while covering up conservative failures.

On issue after issue, progressive policies have proven far more successful than conservative policies. Progressive policies have led to the largest budget surplus in history, declining crime rates, improved education, increased funding to fight deadly diseases, an effective retirement security program for seniors, and responsible environmental protections.

Conservative policies, meanwhile, have led to soaring deficits, a stagnant job market, arsenic in our drinking water, increased crime, and a diminished world stature for our nation. They’ve made America less secure at home and less respected abroad.

But what do we hear in the media? On Fox News the economy is “growing like crazy,” Brit Hume tells us that “coalition forces have found further weapons of mass destruction in Iraq,” and numerous pundits have repeated the false charge that John Kerry is the most liberal member of the Senate.

This book helps to set the record straight. A healthy democracy depends on the public’s access to reliable and credible information in the news media, and people willing to stand up and demand it.

Q: Is the book mostly a collection of pieces from the site or new material?

The book itself is mostly new material, though it drew heavily, in both content and spirit, on pieces posted on our site in our first few months.  The book gave us a chance to go into greater detail about some of the conservative misinformation we’ve previously identified. 

Our web site is largely focused on timely responses to misinformation; in the book, we were able to take a little longer view and go into greater detail in some cases.  So readers of our site will certainly recognize some similar themes and types of misinformation in the book, but they won’t be re-reading material they’ve already seen before.

Q: MMFA was founded in late April. The book was finished in August. How did you manage to put together a book in should four months?

We’re lucky to have an incredibly talented and dedicated staff that has put in a tremendous amount – and quality – of work since we launched in April; this book wouldn’t have been possible without the contributions of each and every member of our staff.  And we were lucky to have some fine outside research and writing help.

Q: The book is published by the Media Matters Action Network. What is it and why a separate organization from Media Matters for America?

MMAN is our sister organization, and focuses primarily on activism efforts, allowing MMFA to keep our focus on identifying and correcting conservative misinformation in the media.

Q: Media Matters seems largely focused on the more extreme ends of conservative misinformation — FOX News, Frank Luntz, etc. — but as your own book, The Republican Noise Machine, notes the problem is much larger. How do you plan to take on the entrenched Republican bias of the more “mainstream” news outlets?

Although Fox News certainly provides a lot of fodder for our work, we have also exposed conservative misinformation in mainstream news outlets. We have documented patterns among major news outlets of repeating conservative talking points, neglecting to “fact check” statements made by prominent conservatives, and otherwise questionable reporting.

Let me give you a few examples:

Thanks to David Brock and Media Matters for this opportunity. Some minor formatting changes have been made to the interview.

posted October 15, 2004 04:22 PM (Books) (2 comments) #


Day 15
Day 16
Of Conspiracies and Filing Cabinets
Got Money?
Misstated Union: An Interview with David Brock
Stewart on Crossfire
Stanford: Day 27


I see you have an animadversity toward conservatism. It’s a pity, but it is the least worst political philosophy available. Unaffortunately, -and as it happens in many other things- a small group of uber-conservatives can make and say some things and get all the world against the ‘true’ philosophy, that they are NOT representing. Neo-conservatives do not represent conservatives, as well as ‘The Angry Left’ does not represents a ‘human’ liberalism. Have that in mind. ;)

posted by Jesus at October 16, 2004 09:25 AM #

this one’s for Jesus - with heartfelt greetings from the reality-based community…

posted by thorolf smør at October 17, 2004 10:13 AM #

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