Attorney General files suit against Media Matters over alleged anti-X initiatives

Credit: Elon Musk/X

Attorney General Andrew Bailey has filed a lawsuit against Media Matters of America in an attempt to force the nonprofit to turn over documents that are allegedly related to its efforts to bully advertisers out of social media X. Media Matters published a report last year claiming X was showing advertisements from major corporations alongside extremist content. 

X has defended itself against Media Matters’ claims, arguing that the nonprofit essentially manipulated the social media platform’s system by specifically following accounts only known to produce provocative content and accounts of the company’s big-time advertisers. X noted that Media Matters then reportedly scrolled and refreshed its feed an unnatural number of times until a screenshot could be taken showing paid posts from a major advertiser next to controversial content. 

In a press release, Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey noted that he launched an investigation into Media Matters’ practices after alleged evidence came to light suggesting that the nonprofit was soliciting “donations from Missourians under false pretenses to target X.” This, the Attorney General argued, was “in direct violation of the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act.” 

“My office has reason to believe Media Matters used fraud to solicit donations from Missourians in order to bully advertisers into pulling out of X, the last social media platform dedicated to free speech in America, so we launched an investigation to get to the bottom of it. However, Media Matters has a sordid history of refusing to cooperate with investigations. I’m not going to let this activist group stonewall us. If there has been any attempt to defraud Missourians in order to trample on their free speech rights, I will root it out and hold bad actors accountable,” Bailey wrote. 

X owner Elon Musk has praised the Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey‘s legal action.

Following is a pertinent portion of the Missouri Attorney General’s press release. 

Media Matters came under fire after allegations surfaced that the organization deceitfully manipulated X’s algorithm to place advertisers’ content next to contrived controversial posts, causing X to suffer astronomical financial losses when affected advertisers pulled their money from the site. Media Matters has been outspoken in its attempts to defame X for its refusal to censor disfavored viewpoints.

General Bailey’s lawsuit details how, “Media Matters, a self-styled not-for-profit ‘progressive research and information center,’ envisions itself monitoring, analyzing, and correcting ‘conservative misinformation’ in the U.S. media. In fact, this description falls far short of reality for this political activist organization. Instead, rather than passively ‘monitoring,’ Media Matters has used fraud to solicit donations from Missourians in order to trick advertisers into removing their advertisements from X, formerly Twitter, one of the last platforms dedicated to free speech in America.”

The suit further notes, “Media Matters has pursued an activist agenda in its attempt to destroy X, because they cannot control it. And because they cannot control it, or the free speech platform it provides to Missourians to express their own viewpoints in the public square, the radical ‘progressives’ at Media Matters have resorted to fraud to, as Benjamin Franklin once said, mark X ‘for the odium of the public, as an enemy to the liberty of the press.’ Missourians will not be manipulated by ‘progressive’ activists masquerading as news outlets, and they will not be defrauded in the process.”

The suit asserts, “Based on serious allegations of false and deceptive behavior, the Attorney General’s Office has issued a Civil Investigative Demand (‘CID’), as authorized by Missouri Law, to Media Matters to investigate possible violations of the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act. Because Media Matters has refused such efforts in other states and made clear that it will refuse any such efforts, the Attorney General seeks an order from the Court, 2 pursuant to section 407.090, compelling Media Matters to comply with the CID within 20 days.”

Media Matters has responded to the Missouri Attorney General’s legal action. In a comment, Media Matters President Angelo Carusone criticized Elon Musk, stating that the investigation is meritless and it is a way for the CEO to punish his critics. He also noted that the lawsuit is part of an attempt to curb free speech. 

“Far from the free speech advocate he claims to be, Elon Musk has actually intensified his efforts to undermine free speech by enlisting Republican attorneys general across the country to initiate meritless, expensive, and harassing investigations against Media Matters in an attempt to punish critics. This Missouri investigation is the latest in a transparent endeavor to squelch the First Amendment rights of researchers and reporters; it will have a chilling effect on news reporters,” Carusone noted. 

Following is the Missouri Attorney General’s Investigative Demand, as well as his lawsuit against Media Matters. 

Final CID to Media Matters by Simon Alvarez on Scribd

Final Media Matters Petition by Simon Alvarez

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Attorney General files suit against Media Matters over alleged anti-X initiatives
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