Media Matters and the Fake News Era Go to Court
The X/Twitter lawsuit against David Brock's media arm could become a referendum on the fake news era
On Tuesday, X/Twitter filed a lawsuit against Media Matters for America (MMfA), the media arm of political smear artist David Brock. Brock made his living in the nineties attacking Democrats, pushing the Paula Jones story and writing The Seduction of Hillary Rodham, until announcing a religious conversion via his 1997 Esquire piece “Confessions of a Right-Wing Hitman” and moving to team blue to head up orgs like Media Matters and Correct the Record. Brock is a unique figure in our history, as perhaps no American has ever turned his face so completely inside out in public.
I can’t indulge in homilies to Elon Musk’s X as a haven for free speech while he also continues to suppress disfavored accounts (including all Substack contributors), but the X suit at least has a chance of becoming a referendum on serious forms of media manipulation. The X allegations, which obviously need proving out, detail in microcosm a phenomenon that’s been unpleasantly familiar to Americans since about 2016. We’ve grown used to a Twilight Zone existence in which nearly every news story of consequence, from Nord Stream to Bountygate to sonic weapons in Cuba, the Dancing Syringe Panic to “Russia Trying to Help Bernie Sanders” to the pee tape have the feel of invented stories. Later, they’re often proved to be, and worse, we’ve been conditioned to forgive the institutions caught routing such fakes our way, and salute the next narratives sent up the flagpole. The method is never put on trial.
In this case, it might be. MMfA is accused of creating a news story, reporting on it, then propagandizing it to willing partners in the mainstream press. Again, the X allegations need to hold up in an adversarial process, but the company claims to have fully captured a dollhouse version of a generation’s larger media frauds, making this a fascinating case to watch. From the suit: