Media Matters Gets Some Right-Wing Competition

Al Sharpton
Al Sharpton
 Jemal Countess/Getty Images

A nonprofit group that bills itself as a right-wing version of Media Matters for America launched Monday with calls for boycotts against companies that advertise on PoliticsNation With Al Sharpton, a show on Comcast-owned MSNBC.

The group is called TruthRevolt, and the first advertiser it is targeting is Ritz Crackers, which a petition that was quickly signed by more than 1,000 people Monday morning says is footing "the bill for vile racial demagoguery" with its sponsorship of the Rev. Al Sharpton's show.

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TruthRevolt details Sharpton's involvement in several controversial causes, including Tawana Brawley, the Duke lacrosse team, riots in Crown Heights and murders at Freddie's Fashion Mart and says: "In any rational world, Sharpton would certainly not have a primetime slot on MSNBC."

The group calls Sharpton "demonstrable proof not just of the unseriousness of the mainstream media, but of their vile race-baiting for ratings."

TruthRevolt is a project of the David Horowitz Freedom Center and is funded in part by Dr. Robert J. Shillman, a wealthy philanthropist who co-founded technology firm Cognex Corp.

Radio talk show host Ben Shapiro, who is also editor-at-large of Breitbart News and author of the book Primetime Propaganda, created the concept of TruthRevolt and runs it. He said Ritz Crackers earned the designation of becoming the first company to be targeted with a boycott because of its claim, made to TruthRevolt, that it only sponsors "tasteful, believable television programming."

Shapiro said the petition will eventually be delivered to the board of directors at Ritz Crackers' parent company, Mondelez International in Chicago, as well as to large shareholders.

TruthRevolt, though, has its eye on other sponsors, shows and media personalities, including George Stephanopoulos of ABC News; David Gregory of NBC News; John King, Piers Morgan, Anderson Cooper and Candy Crowley of CNN; and Chris Matthews, Rachel Maddow, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski of MSNBC.

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TruthRevolt also says it will focus on "institutional leftist outlets" like The New York Times and the Washington Post, as well as Comedy Central personalities Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, "the most effective messengers of the left in the media."

Shapiro didn't say exactly how much money TruthRevolt is operating with, but he said it is less than the $8.5 million raised by billionaire activist George Soros, President Bill Clinton and others to launch Media Matters, a progressive group that has convinced many advertisers to drop their support of Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and other conservatives in the media.

"We bill ourselves the anti-Media Matters," Shapiro said. "Media Matters is an incredibly effective group, so it's foolhardy to ignore their tactics."

Shapiro says TruthRevolt is starting off "lean and mean" with about 10 writers and interns, as opposed to the 27 staffers Media Matters employed when it launched in 2004. He said, though, that thousands of people from across the country have volunteered their services and are expected to be crucial in spreading the word about advertising boycotts and in alerting TruthRevolt of obvious left-wing bias in the media.

"It's straight from the Andrew Breitbart school of citizen journalism," Shapiro said.

On Monday, Media Matters posted the following at its website: "Conservatives have launched TruthRevolt, a website which aims to 'unmask leftists in the media for who they are, destroy their credibility with the American public, and devastate their funding bases.' The history of two main TruthRevolt figures, Ben Shapiro and David Horowitz, suggests the site won't prioritize accuracy or refrain from smears."

E-mail: Paul.Bond@THR.com

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