Media Matters Gives Pass To Major Radio Network With Overlapping Board Membership

Andrew Kerr 

  • A longtime Media Matters director joined the board of Cumulus Media in 2018, and since then the radio network has been spared from the liberal media watchdog’s advertiser boycotts.
  • Media Matters mentioned Cumulus at least 160 times before Tom Castro joined the radio network’s board in 2018. Media Matters has mentioned Cumulus just three times since.
  • Since Castro’s appointment to the Cumulus board, Media Matters published over a dozen stories suggesting that Fox News bears responsibility for comments made by conservative commentators on Cumulus-owned properties.
  • Media Matters targeted Cumulus as part of a 2012 advertiser boycott against the late Rush Limbaugh.
  • Media Matters has not targeted Cumulus since Castro’s appointment to the radio network’s board, despite organizing multiple boycott campaigns against Fox News during the same timeframe.

A major radio network that produces shows for prominent conservative hosts appointed a Media Matters director to its own board in 2018. Since then, the network has escaped the ire of the liberal media watchdog group known for its efforts to defund and cancel conservatives.

Investment fund manager Tom Castro, who has served as a Media Matters director since 2013, joined the Cumulus Media board in early 2018. Media Matters mentioned Cumulus in at least 160 articles prior to Castro joining the radio network’s board; since then, Media Matters has mentioned the word “Cumulus” in just three articles, according to a Daily Caller News Foundation review.

Cumulus is one of the largest radio companies in the nation, boasting that its content reaches over a quarter billion people every month. The company owns 415 stations across the country, and delivers content to nearly 7,300 affiliated stations through its subsidiary Westwood One.

Cumulus produces daily talk shows for prominent conservative commentators that are often targeted by Media Matters, including Mark Levin, Ben Shapiro, Dan Bongino and Michael Knowles.

While Media Matters has covered Westwood One’s conservative talent during Castro’s simultaneous tenure on the two organizations’ boards, the media watchdog group has spared Cumulus from the types of advertiser boycotts it has recently organized against Fox News.

Media Matters reported in May that any advertiser that sponsors Fox News puts their brand “in danger.” A month prior, the watchdog group reported that “every Fox News advertiser bears responsibility” for host Tucker Carlson’s “vile rhetoric.”

Media Matters also launched the “Drop Fox” campaign in early 2021 explicitly calling on major brands to stop buying ads on the network. The group has also operated the “UnFox My Cable Box” campaign since at least 2019 to pressure television providers to stop paying subscriber fees to Fox News.

While Media Matters did publish a story in January about Cumulus asking their conservative hosts to cease spreading election misinformation, the story contained no insinuation that Cumulus advertisers bear responsibility for the election misinformation spread by Cumulus hosts. In fact, the story did not make any mention of Cumulus advertisers whatsoever.

As part of its extensive coverage of Fox News, Media Matters often frames comments made on Cumulus-produced radio shows as being the responsibility of the television network.

For example, Media Matters has published at least 15 stories since late 2019 covering comments “Fox host” Mark Levin made on his radio show produced by Cumulus subsidiary Westwood One, a review of the Media Matters website shows.

While the Media Matters stories about Levin do disclose that his comments came from his radio show and not his Sunday evening Fox News show, the headline, framing and featured image of the stories often give the impression that Fox News bears responsibility for the comments.