Media Matters Expands Mission to Combat Government 'Misinformation'

Dark money group to target administration officials in significant shift

Donald Trump
January 20, 2017

AVENTURA, Fla.—The left-wing Media Matters for America plans to expand its opposition research operation beyond its traditional focus on media to directly combat statements from the incoming Trump administration, according to internal documents.

The dark money group will continue to attack conservatives in the press, but it will also take on what it calls "misinformation" emanating from public officials, a significant expansion of the 12-year-old group's mission.

"Media Matters must be fully prepared to identify misinformation coming from government and fight it at every turn—both directly and indirectly by prodding journalists to scrutinize federal claims," the group wrote in a briefing book provided to current and prospective donors and obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

The donor pitch was handed out at an ongoing conference in Aventura, Fla., this weekend, where Media Matters founder David Brock has assembled deep-pocketed allies to plot strategy under a Donald Trump administration.

According to the briefing materials, Media Matters is seeking $13.4 million in funding in 2017 to support a staff of 81, including a new "dedicated team of media analysts" devoted to tracking statements by Trump and members of his administration.

The donor pitch portrays the newly sworn-in president as a uniquely malignant source of misinformation.

"What happens when the most dangerous source of misinformation is no longer right-wing radio hosts or Fox News, but the federal government itself?" the group asks.

"The notion that the United States government under Donald Trump could become a source of misinformation is not far-fetched—and in fact seems all but inevitable," it warns. "Media Matters is prepared to confront the United States government under a proven and dangerous dissembler."

In addition to directly challenging the administration, the group will work to affect White House policy governing media treatment and access. The donor pitch mentions efforts to "defend standard practices" in areas such as the presidential press pool and White House media credentialing.

Those issues recently caused tensions between Trump and the White House press corps, after his transition team suggested that it might relocate the press briefing room to a larger area.

Media Matters senior fellow Matt Gertz called the move an "insidious" effort "to flood White House press briefings with sycophants and propagandists."

After a media backlash, Trump reversed that decision, but said that he will "just have to pick the people to go into the room."

As it works to affect White House policy towards the press, Media Matters also hopes to ensure that reporters remain hostile to the new president.

"Media Matters will be vigilant in holding news media accountable for even the slightest bit of normalization of Trump," the donor pitch states.

Free Beacon reporter Joe Schoffstall contributed to this report.