Topic: Media Research Center
CNN's Brian Stelter mentioned NewsBusters in a segement on right-wing faker news -- actually, didn't even mention it; he just used a screenshot of a couple of NewsBusters items in passing -- and the Media Research Center got the vapors. Brad Wilmouth wrote:
In a pre-recorded piece aired on New Day Saturday, CNN's Brian Stelter included images of two NewsBusters articles (here and here) as he complained that many people were fooled by "BS" and "fake news," sharing such material with others through social media during the 2016 presidential election.
As the CNN media analyst fretted that Donald Trump's campaign had benefited from "fake news" articles, Stelter did not take the time to inform viewers of what he found to be "fake" about the NewsBusters articles that were that were authored by our Matt Philbin and contributing writer Christian Toto.
As articles from several websites appeared on screen, two NB articles were among the group -- "Hypocrisy: Net Frets About Bannon; Gave Catholic-Hating Podesta a Pass" and "Amy Schumer: Trump Voters Weak, Clueless KKK Members." As Stelter did not specify his problem with either article, a similar article regarding Amy Schumer, albeit with a different title, had appeared at the Huffington Post.
After recalling that "Even President Obama is raising the alarm," Stelter recalled an article from one of the other websites which falsely claimed a protester was paid to disrupt Trump rallies.
There was still no explanation for why either NewsBusters piece was included among "fake news" articles as of this post's publication.
Wilmouth went on to state that "NewsBusters executive editor Tim Graham demanded that Stelter issue a correction and emphasized that all of us at NewsBusters take issues of accuracy seriously (despite what Stelter may consciously or erroneously think and opine to viewers)," adding links to Graham tweeting that "If you can't explain where we FAKED it, @BrianStelter we at NewsBusters want a correction" and "Anyone who reads @newsbusters -- if you find something "Pants on Fire" or "Fake" on NB, we will take it seriously. No flies in our soup!"
Wilmouth and Graham have a point -- to a certain extent. Of the two NewsBusters posts that got blink-and-you'll-miss-them appearances in the CNN segment, one is as run-of-the-mill right-wing rant by Christian Toto overstating what comedian Amy Schumer said about Trump voters; while she mocked them by questioning if they could read her Instagram post "through the holes in your sheets," the headline of Toto's post claims she called them "Clueless KKK Members." The post did contain an added editor's note asserting that Hillary Clinton's emails, which Schumer said caontined "nothing incriminating," actually contained "Classified information very likely hacked by foreign agents."
The second post was one by Matt Philbin, and as we noted, it complained that the media was examining the white-nationalist ties of Steve Bannon instead of Clinton campaign manager John Podesta, who Philbin smeared as an "anti-Catholic bigot." In fact, Podesta is a Catholic himself, and he merely complained about conservative Catholics, not attacked the entire religion.
In the MRC's defense, these types of items are not the fake news that has people concerned -- this sort of hyperbolic ranting is par for the course at NewsBusters.That's not to say the MRC hasn't been promoting fake news, however.
As we've documented, the MRC went all in in relentlessly promoting the Fox News story that an indictment of Hillary Clinton was imminent and that her email server was almost definitely hacked, with MRC chief Brent Bozell vowing to report "every hour" on the issue. But none of those hours were devoted to a post that told readers Fox News effectively retracted both claims -- in other words, fake news.
That not only undercuts Wilmouth's claim that "all of us at NewsBusters take issues of accuracy seriously" and Graham's assertion that "if you find something "Pants on Fire" or "Fake" on NB, we will take it seriously," it proves that the editor's note in Toto's post on schumer was fake as well. So maybe Stelter wasn't that much out of line.
There are also things like NewsBusters blogger Tom Blumer deceptively trying to blame all birtherism on Hillary Clinton (which, to the very limited extent her campaign was associated with the issue, ended around the time her 2008 campaign did) as a ploy to get Trump off the hook for pushing the issue for five years. NewsBusters also has a blogger hiding behind the fake name of "Bruce Bookter"and hired aggressively pro-Trump partisan Jeffrey Lord to blog there as well, who has his own history of fake news.
The fake news the MRC puts out isn't the crude clickbait eesigned to make money; it's things like dubious studies so narrowly defined and unscientifically conducted they're meaningless as anything except a partisan cudgel.
On Nov. 20, the MRC went after Stelter again; this time, Nicholas Fondacaro complained that, in repeating the claims of a fake-news writer reported by the Washingtion Post, he "taking the opinion and the insults of a fake news publisher as fact. On top of ranting that "Stelter tried to smear the Media Research Center by including images of two NewsBusters articles during his shtick about fake news," he offered his own pass-the-buck take on the fake-news controversy:
The public is smarter than they are given credit for, and are very perceptive. So, the fear that fake news is what drove a Trump victory over Clinton is powered by a distrust with the intelligence the public. If Stelter and the media want their credibility back, then they need to show some trust in the public and not just demand that the public trust them.
Of course, neither of these two posts noted that Facebook reportely refused to implement standards that would weed out fake news in order to avoid provoking another attack from right-wingers -- like Media Research Center chief Brent Bozell -- over claims of bias and censorship, such has what happened earlier in the year.
If the MRC was really as interested in accuracy as Graham and other employees claim it is, it would address that claim in its discussions of the fake-news controversy.