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Thursday, December 16, 2010
NewsBusters' Petty Apologizing for Fox News
Topic: NewsBusters

Apparently, the Media Research Center has forbidden all direct references to Media Matters (disclosure: our employer). Indeed, we know of at least NewsBusters criticism of Media Matters that was deleted shortly after posting, presumably because it directly referenced the MRC's most prominent media-watchdog competition.

The MRC also has a mission of defending Fox News wherever and whenever. When these two directives collide, wackiness (or at least awkward writing) ensues.

When Media Matters released a leaked memo last week highlighting how Fox News Washington managing editor Bill Sammon directed Fox News personnel, during the debate over health care reform, to use the Republican-preferred terminology of "government option" to describe what was more commonly referred to as the public option, NewsBusters' Lachlan Markay was eager to serve as a Fox News apologist -- albeit without acknowledging where the story originated.

Markay's Dec. 9 post on the issue makes no mention of Media Matters and doesn't even link to the original Media Matters item. Instead, he huffs that the story is merely "the latest meme among the legions of lefty Fox-haters" and links to the first page of Memeorandum's politics section. Ooh, that'll totally show Media Matters!

After digressing into other ideological debates over terminology, Markay finally gets around to taking Fox News' side, asserting that "while Fox's replacement of the 'public option' label with 'government option' made the proposal sound less appealing, it also presented the issue more accurately and in far less vague (arguably propagandistic) terminology." Of course, Markay doesn't concede that "government option"is "arguably propagandistic" too -- indeed, Republican pollster Frank Luntz appeared on Fox News to advise Republicans to use "government option" because "if you call it a 'public option,' the American people are split," but that "if you call it the 'government option,' the public is overwhelmingly against it." Conservative host Sean Hannity enthusiastically agreed, saying, "it's a great point, and from now on, I'm going to call it the government option."

That's in the original Media Matters article. If Markay had bothered to link to it instead of playing hide-and-seek through Memeorandum, he would know that.

When Media Matters released another memo from Sammon telling Fox Newsers to "refrain from asserting that the planet has warmed (or cooled) in any given period without IMMEDIATELY pointing out that such theories are based upon data that critics have called into question," Markay pulled the same stunt -- blindly defended Fox News and studiously avoiding any mention of the source of the memo.

In his Dec. 15 NewsBusters post, Markay rants again about "far-left Fox News haters" and links again to Memeorandum -- the exact same page he linked to before. Markay appears not to understand that the content on Memeorandum pages changes constantly. Markay went on to note that Politico "reported on the leak" but didn't mention who leaked it.

Markay asserted: "So Sammon instructed staff to incorporate the most basic tenets of science and journalism - skepticism and political neutrality, respectively - into their reporting on contentious scientific issues with tremendous political implications. And this is a problem?"

Well, yes -- and, again, if Markay had put in the effort to link to the original Media Matters story, he would know that. The point is that Sammon issued his directive less than 15 minutes after Fox correspondent Wendell Goler accurately reported on-air that the United Nations' World Meteorological Organization announced that 2000-2009 was "on track to be the warmest [decade] on record." That was a demonstrable fact, and the arguments of skeptics served simply to provide an opinion in response to a fact.

So, Markay's defenses of Fox News are both disingenuous and petty. Apparently, that's how you get to be an MRC blogger.


Posted by Terry K. at 2:18 AM EST

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