When I saw Hillary Clinton at Yearly Kos she took credit for co-creating Media Matters for America, the lefty doppleganger of the Media Research Center that catalogues mean right-wingers and dippy pundits saying bad things about Democrats.
"I wish we had this infrastructure 15 years ago," she says. "We've gotten better at building this infrastructure… that I helped start, with organizations like Media Matters and ThinkProgress."
So we're coming out of a weekend, into a new debate, and the big Democratic story has been whether the Clintons and surrogates have been playing subtle games with Barack Obama's race and long-admitted youthful drug use, and how Obama's responded. The big Republican story is John McCain's comeback, abetted by pundits and editorial pages fibbing or fudging on his record. And the big Media Matters coverage is of… people being mean to Hillary Clinton.
Check out the top stories. They're Tim Russert asking Clinton about Iraq, Chris Matthews tying Clinton's support to her husband's scandals ("the reason she's a candidate for president, the reason she may be a front-runner is her husband messed around"), a fact-check pointing out that Clinton cast the same Iraq vote as Chuck Hagel, The Nation's Washington editor arguing that people are frustrated with Matthews, John Gibson defending Matthews, the Washington Post truncating Clinton comments on MLK, and… oh, one Obama story, where Howard Kurtz leaves a few words out of an Obama quote.
My instinct is to say this is good for the Clintons, but the uptick in HRC shilling seems to correspond with a downturn in traffic. Media watchdog groups and bloggers get more oomph when they promote statements that everyone elsed missed (stuff from hour 2 of Rush Limbaugh or Michael Savage) than when they blubber about cable TV hosts. Still, it's something the Republicans probably wish they had. The MRC is nowhere near so targeted for or against a particular candidate.