When one thinks of women’s rights groups, names like the National Organization for Women (NOW), the Susan G. Komen Foundation, or even Planned Parenthood usually come to mind. But an obscure group called Ultraviolet just took down Chris Matthews—the former speechwriter for Tip O’Neill and Jimmy Carter who had successfully transformed himself into a professional talking head. Just like that, his 23 year run as an MSNBC staple on “Hardball” came to an abrupt end this week.
Founded in 2012, Ultraviolet did not achieve this awesome feat on its own. On the contrary, a sophisticated and well-funded progressive machine and media echo-chamber created, amplified, and executed the plan to take out Matthews—and many more individuals, companies, and organizations before him.
With hundreds of millions of dollars from billionaire financier George Soros and dozens of his comrades-in-arms at the “Democracy Alliance,” the progressive network of labor unions, activist investment firms, social justice organizations, and ideological media outlets is the tip of the spear in “cancel” culture.
Matthews was accused of sexually inappropriate comments by Laura Bassett in a GQ column. The “Hardball” host’s precise crime? Boorish and slightly creepy comments about her appearance and his penchant for “falling in love” with her. Matthews did not touch her or proposition her. Inappropriate? Probably. But Matthews is no Matt Lauer or Harvey Weinstein.
Nevertheless, Bassett persisted. After writing in vague terms about her awkward encounters with the cable talk show host in 2017, she unleashed a fresh volley in February 2020 after Matthews criticized progressive heroes Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. It was Matthews’ attack on Warren, in particular, that sent Bassett over the edge. The problem, evidently, is that the boorish Matthews gave Mike Bloomberg the benefit of the doubt over his secret nondisclosure agreements.
Questioning Warren’s dogmatic insistence that an accusation equals guilt was a bridge too far for Bassett. Soros, of course, had announced in October 2019 that he was backing Warren, calling her “the most qualified person to be president.” Soros and numerous Democracy Alliance supporters have put big bucks behind Warren’s campaigns. The Alliance’s treasurer is a high-dollar bundler for the Massachusetts senator.
Bassett, a long-time Huffington Post writer who went all in with the anti-Kavanaugh mob, repeatedly called the then-Supreme Court nominee a “rapist” and compared him to convicted sex predator and pedophile R. Kelly for expressing indignation at the accusations leveled against him.
These groups and outlets, working in concert, orchestrated the downfall of Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, targeted Breitbart, and attempted to knock Laura Ingraham off the air through advertiser boycotts. Ultraviolet, in particular, led the anti-Kavanaugh protests—projecting “Kavanaugh is a sexual predator” onto the D.C. Court of Appeals where he sat before joining the highest court, running TV ads, and having their paid staff confront then-Senator Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) in a Senate elevator to convince him to oppose Kavanaugh.
Armed with unending funds from the Democracy Alliance donors, Ultraviolet’s press releases are often re-packaged and published as “news” by Huffington Post writers, including Bassett. Bassett also received awards from the neo-Malthusian and Democracy Alliance-funded Population Institute and Planned Parenthood for her pro-abortion reporting.
Their system works with extreme effectiveness. By identifying a target, Media Matters or one of its compatriots in the research game lays out a case for malfeasance and shops it around to the traditional media. When, as is often the case, the hit job garners little attention, the progressive media outlets jump into action and churn out “stories” and “exclusives” that rehash Media Matters’ claims. In turn, the astroturf “advocacy” groups—often funded via their parent organization Citizen Engagement Lab (CEL) from which Ultraviolet got $2.6 million in Soros cash in 2016 alone—get to work. They launch paid media campaigns, stage attention-grabbing protests, and issue a flurry of letters to their target’s corporate or institutional backers.
These seemingly futile appeals pack a punch because the Democracy Alliance machine has an ace up its sleeve—massive stock reserves in hundreds of public companies through allied investment funds including labor unions and private investors. Names you’ve never heard of hold billions of dollars in assets in Fortune 500 companies including As You Sow, Trillium Asset Management, Walden Asset Management, and Arjuna Capital.
These Democracy Alliance investment funds filed over 50 percent of the 1,600 “social policy” proxy motions lodged against Fortune 250 companies in the last decade on issues ranging from gay rights and abortion to political giving and climate change. Although these motions rarely succeed, companies prefer to avoid contentious and easily misconstrued public battles.
In 2019, these funds targeted hundreds of major corporations including Exxon Mobil, Google’s parent company Alphabet, Disney, and Macy’s. On the face of it, most of their efforts have failed. But in truth, they always win in fact. To get the activists to withdraw the resolutions and avoid controversy, companies frequently adopt a version of the activists’ policy, offer board seats to the activist investors, or even appoint their activists to serve as C-suite “advisors”—just down the hall or a phone call away from the executives who they are extorting. Last year alone, activists took 65 board seats on companies with market capitalizations over $500 million.
In November, the activist fund, Arjuna, offered a proxy resolution to the shareholders’ meeting of Comcast, MSNBC’s parent company, on sexual harassment “accountability” tying outcomes to the job security and compensation of Comcast executives.
So months later, Matthews’ fall from grace was anything but organic.