A plan to split Media Matters and its political messaging project is in the works, chairman David Brock told BuzzFeed on Wednesday, when responding to criticism of the latter's talking points about the Department of Justice's Associated Press scandal.
Media Matters Action Network, the lobbying portion of Media Matters, came under fire for releasing a series of talking points that seemed to defend the DOJ's secret probe into AP phone records. Brock told the Washington Post's Erik Wemple that the document did not come from Media Matters — which he stressed "stands with" the news outlets who have protested the DOJ's actions — but rather, a project at its sister organization called Message Matters.
In an interview with BuzzFeed, he explained why it released the talking points and admitted that there was a potential conflict of interest between the project and Media Matters, which he said is "entirely-fact-based."
“We would not say it the way we said it by itself, if we had it to do over again,” Brock told BuzzFeed. “People did not understand what we were trying to do and why we were trying to do it.”
He also said that even before the controversy over the talking points, he had proposed turning the Message Matters project into its own organization independent of Media Matters. BuzzFeed reported that the split will come “very soon,” according to Brock.
Media Matters took a big hit as journalists, and conservatives and liberals alike, criticized the group over the talking points. BuzzFeed's Andrew Kaczynski and the Daily Beast's Kirsten Powers both said on Wednesday that they were "shocked" by the organization's response to the scandal, while The Huffington Post's Jason Linkins called it "gross."
Since the story broke on Monday, journalists from all corners have spoken out against the DOJ's actions. Fifty-two news organizations signed a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and Deputy Attorney General James Cole on Tuesday protesting the probe, while individual journalists continue to blast the agency's decision.