CNSNews.com covered the bejeezus out of a tiny rally of "almost two dozen black pastors and leaders of the pro-life movement" demanding that a bust of Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger be removed from a Smithsonian exhibit. There was a main article by Penny Starr and Lauretta Brown and five more articles isolating comments by rally speakers.
What's missing from those articles: full disclosure of how much CNS' parent organization and its president contributed to the rally.
The main article identifies rally speaker Brent Bozell only as "chairman of For America." But Starr and Brown failed to mention the important fact that Bozell is also president of CNS' parent, the Media Research Center and is, in fact, at the top of CNS' masthead. (The two articles focused on Bozell's comments do not this, but not until the end of the article.)
Further, none of the six CNS articles mention the fact its parent organization is leading a campaign to get the bust removed.
An Aug. 26 email by the "MRC Action Team" cherry-picked "controversial statements" by Sanger that are ripped out of context, adding:
[A] coalition of black pastors has petitioned the Smithsonian Institute to remove a prominent bust of Sanger from the Congressionally-funded National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C. The bust of Sanger appears as part of their “Struggle for Justice” exhibit along with baseball player Jackie Robinson and Martin Luther King, Jr.
However, the National Portrait Gallery has refused to comply with this request and continues to memorialize someone who is highly controversial and extremely offensive.
That is why we need your help by calling the Smithsonian Institute directly and asking them to remove this bust!
This was followed by a phone number for the Smithsonian where people can "be sure to let them know that our taxpayer dollars should not be used to honor a woman who wanted to exterminate everyone that she deemed 'unfit'."
The next day, the MRC sent out another email describing how "MRC Action launched a campaign" to remove Sanger's bust, proudly proclaiming that "Over 700 calls poured into the office of the head of The Smithsonian yesterday, prompting them to call and ask that we stop."
That was followed on Aug. 28 by a third email touting more alleged phone calls (it'snever stated how the MRC knows how many people called) and stating, "We cannot stop these calls until the taxpayer-funded bust of Margaret Sanger is removed!" (The MRC offered no evidence that the existence of the Sanger bust is "taxpayer-funded.")
Meanwhile, the Bozell-led For America -- which purports to be a separate organization from the MRC but appears to share the MRC's office address in Reston, Va. -- promoted its role in the rally: "The concerted effort joined ForAmerica with a coalition of black pastors and included a protest in front of the gallery this morning as well as a social media campaign that made “#BustRacism” a trending hashtag."
It looks to us that the MRC and For America, which shares a leader with the MRC, collaborated with the small group of black pastors -- who, as we've noted, appear to already be collaborating with CNS and reporter Penny Starr by uncritically promoting their lie-filled attacks on Sanger -- to manufacture a small event for the main, if not sole, purpose of giving CNS something to cover as "news," which it proceeded to do well beyond its importance.
If true -- and it sure looks that way; the MRC is free to speak up and untangle all of the behind-the-scenes self-dealing that appears to be going on -- CNS is engaging in a serious breach of journalistic ethics, and its failure to fully and honestly disclose its relationship to the rally's organizers makes the situation worse.
As a result, it's painfully clear that CNS is not an independent news organization, it's not a news organization at all -- it's just another cog in the MRC's right-wing propaganda machines. There's simply no reason to any sane person to treat it as legitimate.