George Soros Gives Media Matters $1M to Thwart Fox News

"This is more of a symbolic gesture than anything else"

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For years, liberal billionaire George Soros has denied claims that he funds the left-wing media watchdog group Media Matters. However, on Wednesday he announced that he's giving the group $1 million:

Despite repeated assertions to the contrary by various Fox News commentators, I have not to date been a funder of Media Matters. However, in view of recent evidence suggesting that the incendiary rhetoric of Fox News hosts may incite violence, I have now decided to support the organization. Media Matters is one of the few groups that attempts to hold Fox News accountable for the false and misleading information they so often broadcast. I am supporting Media Matters in an effort to more widely publicize the challenge Fox News poses to civil and informed discourse in our democracy.

Here's how media observers are digesting the news:

As the NYT (and frequently, Glenn Beck) points out Soros has long been rumored to be the money behind Media Matter even though officials there “regularly denied that they had ever taken money from Mr. Soros” something Soros again denies in his statement. However, Politico points out that Media Matters “has received funding from or formed partnerships with several groups that Soros funds. These include the Tides Foundation, Democracy Alliance, and the Center for American Progress.”

Judging from the tone of Soros’ statement and the fact that $1million does not go as far as it used to (nor will it presumably put much of a dent in Soros’ bank account) one imagines this is more of a symbolic gesture than anything else.
  • I Know Exactly How This Will Play Out, writes Allahpundit at Hot Air:
Everybody wins here, no? The Brock boys win by getting a cool mil to spend on new Tivos for recording Fox or whatever the hell it is they do with their money. Fox wins by having something juicy for Bill, Glenn, and Sean to talk about tonight on this otherwise extremely slow news day. Soros wins by kicking up a little insta-PR for himself among disgruntled lefties: Remember, he’s been sitting out the midterms this year despite Democrats desperately needing more outside money to try to stem the Republican tide. Dropping seven figures on the left’s favorite hatchet shop to keep screeching about Fox is right in the nutroots’s pleasure zone, and the fact that he’s making a big show of doing it publicly helps their talking point about shadowy Republican donors and the Chamber of Commerce.
  • It Shows that Soros Still Cares, writes Michael Shear at The New York Times:
Mr. Soros has been a disappointment to some liberals during the current election cycle because he has largely sat on the sidelines. In an interview with my colleague Sewell Chan earlier this month, Mr. Soros said he was concerned about a Republican surge in Congress but was not participating as he did in the past...

The $1 million donation by Mr. Soros to Media Matters will not alter that calculus. But it could signal a return to greater participation by him during the 2012 presidential campaign. And it suggests that liberals intend to continue pressing their case against the flow of undisclosed money into political campaigns.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.