Fox News is apparently getting tired of media watchdog Media Matters pointing out the network’s inaccuracies and right-wing bias. How else to explain the recent even-less-fair-and-balanced-than-usual attack on Media Matters and its tax status?
While flashing phrases like “Tax-Paid Propaganda” and “Gov’t Funded Group Launching Media ‘War’” on the screen, Fox News’ Steve Doocy complains about Media Matters’ nonprofit status “subsidizing their agenda and their war on Fox News” and asking why the IRS and the Federal Government lets Media Matters “get away with it.”
Doocy sought out Jordan Sekulow of the American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ), a Religious Right legal group created when Pat Robertson wanted a legal arm for the Christian Coalition. Sekulow gave Fox what it was looking for:
You cannot be a wing of the Democrat Party and get 501 c3 status. The terminology that they’re using, their founder and their directors are using, is very dangerous if you’re trying to keep your tax exempt status, saying that Fox news has now taken over the Republican Party and that they’ve declared a guerilla war on Fox News means that they are a purely partisan organization. That doesn’t qualify under 501 c3 status.
There’s a huge basic flaw in this argument. Engaging in a public battle of ideas, like calling out Fox for its demonstrated bias, is not the kind of electoral work that is off-limits for 501 c3 groups, even if you accept, as Sekulow seems to be saying, that Fox has indeed become simply an arm of the Republican Party.
Moreover, Sekulow was an extremely odd choice to be making accusations about partisanship. “I’m a pretty partisan guy, as you know,” he told attendees at the recent Faith & Freedom Coalition summit, where he represented ACLJ. “If we actually want to beat this administration, which has been the most aggressive on these issues, we still have to vote Republican, we still have to unite….Let’s get ready to unite, whoever the GOP nominates, and stop this administration.” He also bragged that the Religious Right had taken over the Republican Party and “made it ours.”
As Sekulow acknowledged, the ACLJ is itself a 501 c3 organization. So by Doocy’s logic, shouldn’t the “government-funded” ACLJ and the “tax-paid propaganda” put out by Sekulow and the ACLJ warrant a federal investigation? How about the “federal subsidies” going to support the lavish multiple-homes-and-private-jet lifestyle reportedly enjoyed by Sekulow’s father, Jay, thanks to the tax-exempt dollars that flow into the ACLJ and connected organizations?