AG Bailey Goes After Media Matters for Alleged Fraudulent Business Practices on X


Attorney General Andrew Bailey, in Missouri, is one of the few AGs in America who have gone hard on protecting free speech. He has been a key litigator in the ongoing Missouri v. Biden lawsuit, one of the most important First Amendment cases of our time. On Monday Bailey filed a suit against Media Matters for its refusal to turn over documents pursuant to his investigation into its alleged fraudulent business practices. The lawsuit alleges Media Matters solicited donations from Missourians to make advertisers pull their content from X. Bailey says the non-profit Media Matters is notorious for refusing to cooperate with investigations into its operations. Bailey's press release confirms his promise to "root out and hold bad actors accountable." According to the press release, Media Matters has caused Musk to suffer financial losses because of its deceitful manipulation of the platform. Musk also sued Media Matters in November 2023. 
"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 alleges Media Matters actively works against conservative media in the U.S. by "monitoring, analyzing, and correcting 'conservative misinformation." The lawsuit goes on to state that Media Matters has been aggressive in its efforts with regard to X. Media Matters is, according to Bailey, "attempt[ing] to destroy X." Bailey continues, "Media Matters has pursued an activist agenda in its attempt to destroy X because it cannot control it." According to Bailey, X is one of the world's last bastions of free speech. 

Missouri law authorizes the Attorney General of Missouri to issue a Civil Investigative Demand (CID) (subpoena) "to investigate possible violations of the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act." Bailey's lawsuit claims that a court order is necessary because Media Matters "has refused such efforts in other states," and he must, therefore, pursue "an order from the Court." Bailey states in his X post that he refuses to be stonewalled. 

The demand letter, among other things, requests any information identifying donations from donors in Missouri between January 1, 2023, and March 25, 2024. The list of donations should include the following information as pictured below:

More importantly, the demand letter asks for promotional and marketing information that solicits donations, how those solicited donations were used, and any materials related to strategies and operations "intended to cancel, deplatform, demonetize, or otherwise interfere with businesses located in Missouri, or utilized by Missouri residents." All the ways Media Matters strategized to "pressure advertisers into pulling advertisements" from X. Not unlike Missouri v. Biden, where evidentiary documents came through, it is in the communications where the sausage, so to speak, is made, this time it is Media Matters' manipulating not the federal government. This time, Media Matters is the tyrant; according to Bailey, "I'm fighting to ensure progressive tyrants masquerading as news outlets cannot manipulate the marketplace in order to wipe out free speech."

It seems that Media Matter did succeed in exerting its influence on advertisers on the X platform. IBM stopped advertising on X in November 2023, and Walt Disney also "paused" its ads on X around the same time. Other companies soon followed. Even the White House joined in, arguably disingenuously, accusing Musk of repeating a "hideous" antisemitic lie on X. "It is unacceptable to repeat the hideous lie behind the most fatal act of antisemitism in American history at any time, let alone one month after the deadliest day for the Jewish people since the Holocaust," White House spokesperson Andrew Bates said. The post (below) to which Bates responded was one that Musk appeared to have endorsed by replying, "You have said the actual truth."

Musk later seems to clarify his stance by going after the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in a subsequent post, saying ADL "unjustly attacks the majority of the West, despite the majority of the West supporting the Jewish people and Israel. This is because they cannot, by their own tenets, criticize the minority groups who are their primary threat." Musk later posted how "deeply offended" he is by ADL's messaging.

From this last post, it seems Musk is just against any form of racism. Notably, Bailey also references an article about Musk's alleged antisemitic stance by Eric Hananoki entitled, "As Musk endorses antisemitic conspiracy theory, X has been placing ads for Apple, Bravo, IBM, Oracle, and Xfinity next to pro-Nazi content." Bailey asks explicitly for any documents related to images in the article "referenced in paragraph 9." Those images allegedly contain anti-semitic content and hashtags. Hananoki reports for Media Matters. 

The CID compels Media Matters to comply within 20 days. 


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