The political arm of Media Matters drew sharp criticism on Wednesday when it released a series of talking points defending the Department of Justice's seizure of Associated Press phone records.
Journalists ,and liberals and conservatives alike, recently grew outraged over revelations that the DOJ secretly obtained the records for over 20 phone lines at the AP. White House press secretary Jay Carney was grilled over the issue at Tuesday's press conference, while the scandal has prompted comparisons of Obama to President Nixon.
Media Matters Action Network — the lobbying portion of Media Matters, a liberal watchdog group — had a different take on the situation, releasing talking points "for those interested in pushing back against partisan attacks."
The group suggested that the AP should be investigated instead of the DOJ. "If the press compromised active counter-terror operations for a story that only tipped off the terrorists, that sounds like it should be investigated," it wrote. Another talking point was, "Is this story about a government source blowing the whistle on government misbehavior, or about a source gratuitously exposing ongoing counter-terrorism operations?"
Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich asked, "Why does the Department of Justice actively work with Media Matters to squash scandals and smear journalists?"
"Terribly shocked to hear today Media Matters is not on the level," wrote BuzzFeed's Andrew Kaczynski. Ben Smith also tweeted, "Don't think reporters ever saw @mmfa as a "media critic," rather than political org tracking foes, working refs."
When asked about the criticism by the Washington Post's Erik Wemple, Media Matters chair David Brock responded with a statement saying that Media Matters Action Network, and not Media Matters, produced the talking points. He referenced the news outlets who have protested the DOJ probe, and said, "We stand with those news organizations and share their concerns."
Journalists from all corners have spoken out against the DOJ's actions since the story broke Monday. Fifty-two media outlets protested the agency's decision on Tuesday in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and Deputy Attorney General James Cole, while individual journalists have criticized the White House.