Yesterday, Rush Limbaugh joined Glenn Beck and other right-wing media in claiming that Media Matters for America is breaking the law because its founder David Brock promised "guerrila warfare and sabotage" against Fox News.
Limbaugh claimed, “Media Matters as a 501(c)(3). Media Matters, as such, is not permitted to engage in "partisan political activity." Well, that's all Media Matters has ever done.” According to Limbaugh, “they're breaking the law.”
One of Rush's advertisers, the Heritage Foundation, is also a 501(c)(3) charitable group. But Heritage engages in the very same “political” activism Rush thinks is illegal. How do we know that Heritage is involved in partisan political activity? Because Rush said so. When Heritage began advertising on Rush Limbaugh's show, he praised them because “they were, in large part, responsible for many policies that came out of the Reagan administration.” He said Heritage was Reagan's “favorite think tank.” He noted that “they attempt to influence budget questions.”
Of course, neither Media Matters nor the Heritage Foundation are breaking the law, although Heritage comes much closer to violating the law than Media Matters ever has. Heritage is involved directly in politics and legislation. The only connection Media Matters has to politics is criticizing the conservative bias of the media.
Rush added another legal theory to claiming that Media Matters should be criminalized: “What Media Matters is doing, you can call it 'tortuous interference,' which occurs when a person intentionally damages the plaintiff's contractual or other business relationships, and this is what Brock has announced: They're out to harm Murdoch's business interests. You cannot use a tax exempt organization to break the law.”
If criticizing media corporations and wishing ill upon them is a crime, then Limbaugh himself is guilty of it. After all, Rush has been denouncing “liberal” media corporations for years and taking credit for causing their ratings (and profits) to drop. Rush himself has repeatedly called for de-funding public broadcasting (another media corporation) and hurting their profits. So why shouldn't David Brock be free to seek to destroy Fox News Channel corporate interests if that's what makes him happy? Unless we carve out a “criticism of Rupert Murdoch” exception to the First Amendment, everyone should be free to criticize any person or corporation that they want to.
As I note in my new book, The Most Dangerous Man in America: Rush Limbaugh's Assault on Reason, Limbaugh only believes in free speech when it applies to him. He denounces progressive non-profit groups, while he takes money to praise conservative non-profit groups engaged in the very same activism. Limbaugh is a professional, partisan hypocrite.
Crossposted at DailyKos.