Updated 10:04 p.m. Media criticism and social change activism are two different things.
Sometimes the first can be oriented toward the second, but watchdogs groups that work the refs. are in general far less effective than the sort of activists who take direct action against their cultural opponents and organize for change -- activists who have been a critical part of every rights-based social change movement in the past century.
So it is interesting to see this week that Media Matters for America, a well-funded and well-staffed liberal Washington media watchdog group that has spent more than half a decade tweaking members of the press and turning right-wing talk radio and television hosts into villians ad seriatim, has moved to create its first explicitly activist site on behalf of a specific cause.
Launched officially on Monday, Equality Matters is a Web site and enterprise within the larger organization dedicated to fighting homophobia in the press -- and also pressuring Congressional and policy leaders to support same-sex marriage.
"I think it's the first time they've done it like this, but I think that you might see more as they look for ways to do this better, faster," said Equality Matters director Richard Socarides, a former Clinton administration official who spent the past decade as a media and entertainment lawyer. "I think they are thinking of having similar treatments for other issues. But this has been way out in front."