Topic: Media Research Center
A Dec. 16 MRC CyberAlert item (and NewsBusters post) by Brent Baker, under the headline "CBS and ABC Tout Shoe-Thrower as 'Celebrity' and 'Folk Hero,'" confuses reporting facts with taking sides by falsely framing the the TV networks as celebrating the guy who threw his shoes at President Bush. But it's clear from the reports Baker excerpts that the networks are reporting on the thrower's popularity in Iraq, which even Baker tacitly admits between the lines.
Usually rude protesters who disrupt events by throwing objects at state leaders don't earn media celebrations, but instead of being embarrassed by their Iraqi media colleague who, as he spewed venomous hatreds, dangerously threw his shoes at President Bush on Sunday in Baghdad, ABC and CBS on Monday night championed his popularity amongst Iraqis. ABC put "Folk Hero?" on screen as fill-in anchor Elizabeth Vargas trumpeted how Muntathar al-Zaidi has "become an instant celebrity to many of his countrymen" while CBS anchor Katie Couric hailed how "many Iraqis are calling him a hero" before reporter Elizabeth Palmer snidely concluded: "Al-Zaidi should do jail time, said the Iraqi bloggers, because he missed."
From London, ABC's Jim Sciutto maintained: "Shoes have become a new symbol of anti-Americanism in the Arab world. And the Iraqi reporter who threw them, Muntathar al-Zaidi, a folk hero." Sciutto touted how "more than 100 lawyers volunteered to defend him. It was a heroic way to say goodbye to Bush, said one Iraqi." Though Sciutto at least noted how "some Iraqis are embarrassed," he countered: "Still, in news coverage, on new fan Web sites, in Arabic text messages, the overwhelming sentiment: giddy satisfaction."
CBS Palmer, also from afar in London, asserted "al-Zaidi's become an instant hero. Today, thousands demonstrated for his release."
Once more, to make it clear to Baker: The networks are reporting what happened in Iraq. Baker's the one spinning facts into bias -- but that's the skewed tunnel vision through which the MRC views everything.
Indeed, the MRC is quite put on that the media is even reporting this at all. Posts on NewsBusters highlight the coverage without pointing out any factual errors -- which tells us that they object to any coverage of it.