On Friday, George Soros-funded hit group Media Matters for America declared victory over its arch-nemesis Fox News. In a puff piece by Amanda Terkel for the Huffington Post, Media Matters leaked that “in the coming years, Fox will no longer be the center of Media Matters’ universe.” What changed? Nothing, really, considering that Fox News still effectively dominates the ratings, with better numbers than MSNBC and CNN combined. But Media Matters reports that it has “effectively discredited the network’s desire to be seen as ‘fair and balanced.’”
However, polls show that simply isn’t the case. The 2012 Public Policy Polling TV News Trust poll showed that 34 percent of respondents trusted Fox News more than ABC News, CBS News, CNN, MSNBC, Comedy Central, NBC News, and PBS. Even among Democrats, Fox News polled better than MSNBC. The 2013 numbers were similar.
Fox has successfully introduced new primetime host Megyn Kelly, who is not an opinion host. Media Matters admits that it has been having difficulty targeting Kelly, with new Vice President Angelo Carusone explaining, “We deal with reality. She's not as vitriolic. On the other hand, she is in some ways more pernicious because her credibility has not been completely and totally eroded ... so she has the potential to legitimize and validate smears and lies in ways that some of the more disreputable figures on Fox can no longer do, which just presents a new challenge."
Meanwhile, MSNBC, by way of contrast, has lost both Martin Bashir and Alec Baldwin in the aftermath of their increasingly extreme commentary and extra-curricular rhetoric.
But that means success for Media Matters, with Carusone stating, “The war on Fox is over. And it’s not just that it’s over but it was very successful. To a large extent, we won.”
Media Matters has laid out its strategic plan for the coming years, and handed a copy over to Huffington Post – no surprise, since Media Matters preps other media outlets regularly, coordinating with the Obama White House as well. Media Matters wants to shift to “new, increasingly influential targets, including Spanish-language media, social media streams, alternative online outlets and morning and entertainment sources.”
While Media Matters has declared victory, the truth seems more that Media Matters has decided that Fox just wasn’t vulnerable enough to its tactics. Instead, it will move on to smaller and lesser things.