Analysis

Media Matters Offers Absurd Justifications For Right-Wing ‘Extremists’ List

REUTERS/Mike Segar

Rachel Stoltzfoos Staff Reporter

Media Matters for America offered some absurd justifications for labelling people attending President Donald Trump’s social media summit as “right-wing” “extremists,” including criticizing Twitter censorship and joking about the White House press corps.

The list of so-called extremists includes the Heritage Foundation, the left-leaning Tim Pool, who has formerly worked for Vice News and Fusion, and Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee. A blurb at the top of the list characterizes those on it as either tied to white nationalists and the “far-right” or pushers of “extremism and conspiracy theories,” such as QAnon.

Many of the reasons Media Matters offers to justify the list are ridiculous, and would catch up large swaths of the country. Here’s a sampling.

1. Asking whether some cultures are better than others

Among the reasons offered for putting Prager University on the list are that it posts “anti-immigrant screeds that … claim to explore whether some cultures ‘are better’ than others,” MMFA’s Alex Kaplan writes.

2. Criticizing Twitter and Facebook for banning Infowars on speech grounds

One reason Media Research Center founder Brent Bozell is on the list is that he disagreed with social media platforms’ decision to ban Infowars. “I don’t support Alex Jones and what InfoWars produces,” he said, but added the bans are part of a “disturbing trend” intended to please liberals.

3. Joking about the White House press corps

Bozell is also on the list for joking that it would be “fun” for Trump to start banning journalists in the White House press corps. “They have no vested interest in objectivity,” he said, referring to some of the White House reporters.

4. Criticizing Hollywood’s value system as “immoral” 

Another reason cited for Bozell is that he said people in Hollywood, including an actor who plays a gay character on “Glee,” function as “evangelists for a revolution of sexual immorality.” In another bullet point, he is cited for saying Hollywood is selling a “radical devolution in moral standards.”

5. Holding a biblical view of marriage and sex

One reason cited for putting the Heritage Foundation on the list is the think tank’s defense of the biblical view of marriage as between a man and a woman, and of two distinct sexes as male and female. “Heritage has railed against LGBTQ equality for decades,” Kaplan writes, citing its opposition to gay marriage and “inclusive nondiscrimination protections” (such as forcing women to use the same bathrooms and locker rooms as biological men).

6. Ties to the Trump campaign

Ryan Fournier is on the list, in part because of “ties to the Trump campaign,” Kaplan writes, adding that “Fournier … claimed to have connections with the Trump campaign.” The administration disputed his characterization of their relationship.

7. Receiving money from the Donald J. Trump Foundation

James O’Keefe is an extremist, in part because his organization, Project Veritas, received a $10,000 donation from the Donald J. Trump Foundation in May 2015.

8. Taking issue with being censored by Twitter

The sole reason given for including Blackburn on the list is that she took issue with Twitter censoring one of her ads. Kaplan writes that Twitter did in fact refuse to allow her to pay to promote a video on Planned Parenthood that included the term “baby body parts,” then backtracked after criticism. A representative from Twitter later apologized to Blackburn.

9. Repeating information from a police report

Pool is on the list in part because he spread information contained in a Portland Police report about Antifa protesters. The report warned that some of the protesters at the event were throwing milkshakes containing dangerous quick-drying cement.